Spring vs Ball Plungers: What’s the Difference?

Plungers are often used to secure and position workpieces. You can find them in furniture and machines. Plungers feature a ball or pin that sinks into the plunger’s body under the pressure of a load. While all plungers use this basic method of operation, there are several different types of plungers, the two most common being spring and ball.

What’s the difference between spring and ball plungers exactly?

What Is a Spring Plunger?

Also referred to as a spring-loaded device (SLD), a spring plunger is a mechanical plunger that’s characterized by the use of a spring. Within a spring plunger’s body is a coiled spring. Depending on the specific type of spring plunger, it may be installed via a hex socket, slotted drive or top slot.

Like with other types of plungers, spring plungers are available in a variety of materials. Stainless steel is a popular material in which spring plungers are made. It’s strong, and more importantly, protected against corrosion. In addition to stainless steel, spring plungers are available in carbon steel, brass and nylon. Regardless, all spring plungers are designed with a coiled spring within the body. When a load is applied to a spring plunger, the spring will depress while simultaneously creating its own reactive force.

What Is a Ball Plunger?

A ball plunger, on the other hand, is a mechanical plunger that features a ball on the tip. The ball isn’t static. Rather, it’s fitted inside a shallow groove where it’s able to move around. When exposed to a load, the ball will depress. Ball plungers such as this are often used in drawers, cabinets, doors and other wooden workpieces.

While ball plungers can withstand loads, they are typically designed for use with lighter loads than that of spring plungers. The ball used in a ball plunger has minimal depth. In other words, it won’t depress deep into the plunger’s body. It will remain relatively shallow, instead.

In Conclusion

Spring and ball are two of the most common types of mechanical plungers. Spring plungers are defined by their use of a spring, which is encased in a body. Ball plungers, conversely, are defined by their use of a ball tip, which depresses slightly when exposed to a load. They are both used to position workpieces Of those two types of plungers, spring plungers are better suited for heavy loads, whereas ball plungers are ideal for lighter loads.

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