Welcome to this installment of MC² on Springs & Retaining Rings!

Springs and retaining rings are mechanical components essential to a vast array of consumer, medical, electronic, and industrial-grade designs. Increasingly engineered to specific applications, springs maintain tension, compression, or torsional loading on assemblies of all sizes as a way to ensure certain return setpoints or performance characteristics. In contrast, retaining rings — whether tapered section, constant section, or spiral — are a subset of removable fasteners that engage some grooved portion of a design’s housing or shaft to hold that subassembly together. Due to the similarities of their physical scale, manufacture, and phase at which they’re integrated into machines or workpieces, springs and retaining rings are often considered together.

Detailed in this Motion Control Classroom are spring and retaining-ring subtypes and their uses; calculations commonly used in their specification; and the metals, composites, and manufacturing techniques that have helped maximize their performance in cutting-edge applications.

Lisa Eitel

Executive editor, Design World

Springs & Retaining Rings Classroom Sponsored by


What are linear springs and how do they work?

Types of industrial springs: compression, extension, and torsion

Common challenges that wave springs address

What are some common wave spring material and finish options?

There are four key criteria for sizing and selecting a wave spring: load, working height, physical design requirements (bore diameter, ID, OD), and material.

Springs are flexible mechanical components to store and release energy or apply and release forces on machine axes.

Springs that follow Hooke’s Law are often referred to as “linear springs” because they have a linear relationship between load and deflection.

Industrial springs are common in motion control and industrial equipment, but they're typically mounted deep inside an assembly of moving parts

What limits wave-spring working height and axial force?

How do wave springs eliminate problems associated with traditional coil springs?

Wave springs are core to myriad gear, actuator, clutch, and consumer-grade motion assemblies. They are load bearing — included in designs to address play or compensate for dimensional variations. Wave springs apply load in axially — so are specified by working height (and other parameters).

Coil springs and wave springs are both types of compression springs, meaning the spring’s force increases as its axial length decreases (as the spring is compressed). But coil springs and wave springs react differently to applied loads, especially in terms of how stresses are created in the material, which in turn, affects their working load and the linearity of their load-deflection characteristics.


Wave Spring Catalog

Why settle for ordinary springs when wave springs offer optimal force handling, space savings and performance? Get to know full product details and everything about single-turn, multi-turn and custom wave spring options available.

Wave Springs Pack More Force Into Less Space

In many applications, wave springs offer significant advantages over traditional spring designs such as coils or discs.

Selecting The Right Wave Spring End-Type

Rotor Clip engineers can help assess the right end-type for wave springs based on your application requirements. Here are the following end-type configurations offered for both single-turn and multi-turn wave springs.


What are strain energy and resilience in the context of compression (wave) springs?

How to calculate retaining ring maximum speed (rpm), and when it matters

How to avoid wave spring fatigue in dynamic applications

When a compressive or tensile load is applied to a spring, the load does work on the spring, causing the spring to undergo a change in shape. This change in shape creates a type of potential energy — referred to as strain energy — in the material.

Wave springs are gaining acceptance in motion applications, thanks to their ability to provide similar force and deflection characteristics to traditional coil springs, but with significantly reduced working height.

Selecting an appropriate retaining ring for an application typically involves evaluating factors such as installation stress, the radial load exerted by the ring, and the thrust capacity of the ring.


What are Retaining Rings? Summary for Motion Engineers

How to Select Retaining Rings: An Engineer’s Guide

How to calculate retaining ring maximum speed (rpm), and when it matters

Retaining rings basics video: Stamped, eared, e-clip, and constant section

When selecting retaining rings for an application, there are a number of factors that determine the right decision.

As with other joining hardware (such as cotter pins, screws, and bolts) retaining rings prevent mating components from excessive moving. In short, they create a removable shoulder preventing components from migrating out of proper position during operation.

Retaining rings are fasteners that hold together components on a shaft when installed in a groove. There are three main types of retaining rings; tapered section, constant section and spiral.

Selecting an appropriate retaining ring for an application typically involves evaluating factors such as installation stress, the radial load exerted by the ring, and the thrust capacity of the ring.

Rotor Clip Retaining Ring & Wave Spring Capabilities

Rotor Clip is the global leader in the manufacture of Retaining Rings, Wave Springs and Hose Clamps. Our team of design, metallurgical and quality engineers will work with you to determine the best product, material and finish for your application.

With billions of parts produced annually, over 20,000 standard parts to choose from and endless custom capabilities, we are driven to provide our customers with Application Driven Solutions™ every time.

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