Selecting the proper material for an application requires a general knowledge of what is commonly available for use in Smalley flat wire products. Specifying the correct material can prevent additional cost and failure in operation. Carbon steel is the most commonly specified material. Stainless steels, although more costly than carbon steel, provide far superior corrosion resistance and have higher temperature operating limits.
Smalley Wave Springs and Spirolox Retaining Rings are available from stock in carbon and stainless steel. Wave Springs are stocked in both carbon steel and 17-7 stainless. Spirolox Retaining Rings are stocked in carbon steel as well as 302 & 316 stainless steel. Other alloys (link to Special Material page) and finishes (link to Material Finishes page) are readily available for production.
SAE 1070-1090 high carbon tempered spring steel is a standard material for spiral retaining rings and wave springs. Tensile strength and yield strength are maximized as a result of the oil tempered martensitic structure.
SAE 1060-1075 high carbon cold drawn spring steel is a standard material for snap rings. Hard drawn carbon steel has no scale as it receives its strength from the drawing process.
In either temper, carbon steel is best suited in applications having a protected environment as it corrodes if not lubricated or atmospherically sealed. Additional corrosion protection can be added with custom finishes. Rings and springs are normally supplied with an oil dip finish providing protection during shipment and for shelf storage.
302 is the standard stainless steel for spiral retaining rings. This widely used material is specified because of its combination of corrosion resistance and physical properties. 302 obtains its spring temper condition by cold working. Though it is categorized as being a nonmagnetic stainless, 302 becomes slightly magnetic as a result of cold working. It is not hardenable by heat treatment.
Nearly identical in physical properties and heat resistance to 302, 316 provides additional corrosion resistance, particularly against pitting, due to its molybdenum chemical content. 316 is generally used in food, chemical and sea water applications. 316 shows less magnetism than 302. However, as with 302, magnetism increases as the wire is cold reduced. This stainless grade is also not hardenable by heat treatment.
Learn more about stainless steel retaining rings here.
Similar in corrosion resistance to type 302, this alloy is used almost exclusively for wave springs, yet offers both high tensile and yield strengths for special ring applications. In fatigue and high stress applications, 17-7 out performs even the finest grade of carbon steel.
Spring properties are achieved by precipitation hardening Condition C to Condition CH900. As a result, the material may be subjected to a temperature of 650°F (343°C) without a loss of spring properties. 17-7 PH Condition CH900 exhibits magnetism similar to high carbon steel.