The first spring ever to be used was in the form of jewelry. Archaeologists have uncovered artifacts in prehistoric Europe and Asia, made in forms using copper and brass.
Other forms of springs came later in the form of weapons. Draw bows and cross bows were used in biblical times a few hundred years before the birth of Christ. These weapons had spring-triggering mechanisms which allowed the weapons to fire arrows.
In medieval times torsion springs, made of bull’s hair were used to effectively launch stones and other projectiles. The “torsion springs” were used in conjunction with a long wooden arm that assisted the launching mechanism.
It wasn’t until after 1000 A.D that the first mechanical springs were used where the metal’s elasticity became a true function of a device, this in the form of clocks. The clock industry takes credit for being an early important contributor to the spring manufacturing industry. In 1330, the Glastonberry Clock was the first clock to mention “metal springs” in its construction. Coiled flat springs saved more space and were used starting around the 14th and 15th century.
Spring Manufacturing further advanced in the lock and guns industry starting around the 15th century. Flat springs were primarily used in early locking mechanisms and for triggering mechanisms in firearms around this time period. For the next few centuries, spring making development progressed slowly.
During the Industrial Revolution, in the early 1900’s, spring manufacturing made quantum leaps in a relatively short period of time. Helical springs were originally wound on an arbor (as they may times are today, for short runs), however this method of manufacturing springs could not keep up with the rapidly-growing automotive and farm equipment industry.
In a short span, less than 5 years, patents were secured for new spring making equipment that included; hand winding, tapered or conical springs, adjustable spring winders, large-diameter coilers, automatic spring coilers and torsion spring machines.
By 1940, most of the earlier automatic machines could now produce springs at high speeds with better accuracy and less demand for secondary or hand operations for additional bends. Looping machines came shortly after in the 1950’s so that extension springs could now be produced faster and more accurately.
Today, spring manufacturing continues to advance with the use of CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) spring manufacturing equipment. With over 90% of everything in the world that is mechanically produced requiring a spring, advancements in spring manufacturing will continue as technology moves forward.