What goes into making a successful spring? A lot more than you think! And getting the perfect balance across all the many inputs is what sets William Hughes apart from its competitors.
Springs are remarkably easy to take for granted. We know what they are and what they do, and we use them every day, even if we don’t realise it. But behind all their simplicity of operation there lie myriad design iterations, materials studies, fatigue tests and treatment processes, all so they can continue doing what they always do, successfully, time and time again.
It’s when you look at the length and breadth of capabilities, resources and end products available from leading spring and wire form manufacturer William Hughes that you realise springs are more than just a coiled piece of metal. Indeed, just a small glance into this company, looking at the time, effort and experience it puts into even basic commodity products will help you re-appraise your evaluation of the humble spring.
Let’s start with design and consultation which, as Max Hughes, Managing Director says: “Should take place as early as possible in the overall design process. Springs are often considered an afterthought, albeit often with a crucial role to play, so it is essential we are involved at an early stage. Trust me, it solves a lot of future headaches.”
To this end, William Hughes offers the capabilities of its in-house design team, which can help customers start from scratch, fine tune existing designs or even consider alternatives that they may not have looked at in the past. “We have decades of experience,” Hughes explains, “from the most mundane compression spring, all the way up to high precision forms, for aerospace and automotive components.”
And these springs can take on multiple forms, which include: compression springs, torsion & double torsion springs, tension/extension springs (often with hooks), cone springs and track springs, all of which can be fine tuned to match the precise needs of any given application – from the simplest pushbutton return, all the way up to complex and incredibly precise aerospace components.
Different applications have different demands and different demands often mean different materials. This is why William Hughes specialises across multiple materials and alloy types. These materials include 1,800 different wire types in various weights and finishes, including several grades of spring steel (EN 10270-1, -2 and -3) as well as multiple non-ferrous wire types such as beryllium copper, phosphor bronze, copper, brass and various nickel grades, to name but a few, available in round, square, flat and shaped formats.
The company typically works within the range up to 11 mm diameter (or up to 16 mm using spring steel) and from a few millimetres to 2.5 m in length, with standard coiling between 0.1 and 8.0 mm. In terms of production, William Hughes deploys the latest CNC technology across its three production sites, with many specialist machines that allow it to produce a wide range of complex forms and one-offs in small batches and for volume production into the millions.
Following production, the completed springs and wire forms can be further tailored to their specific applications using a variety of post-production processes and finishes including painting, plastic coating, threading, pointing, nibbing, electrophoretic painting, Delta®-Tone Finishing, Delta®-Seal, Steel and Glass Shot Peening and injection over-moulding for products such as electric vehicle busbars.
“Our different factories in the UK, Bulgaria and Poland all share some capabilities and specialise in others,” Hughes explains. “Our geographic spread can also make a difference to transportation and costs, depending on where the end customer is located. With many automotive OEMs being based in Eastern Europe, it makes sense that we put our capabilities on their doorstep.”
Staying with the automotive industry, quality assurance is essential, which is why William Hughes has ISO 9001:2000 and ISO/TS 16949:2002 accreditation. It also has AS9100 for the aerospace industry and its heat treatment operations, materials testing laboratory and chemical processing capabilities are all Nadcap accredited.
With testimonials and a customer list that reads like a who’s who of leading companies, William Hughes is uniquely placed to deliver the very best design, fabrication, testing and finishing of all spring products. “We work incredibly closely with our customers,” Hughes concludes, “which is why our right-first-time success rates are so high. By getting involved from the outset, managing expectations and delivering sound advice relating to materials, physics, dynamics, production and, of course, economics, we rarely see single orders from customers - many have been coming to us for years and will continue to do so well into the future.”
A) Just a few of the wide variety of spring types produced by William Hughes.
B) Some typical double torsion springs manufactured by William Hughes.