When shopping for spring plungers, you may encounter lateral spring plungers. They are used for many of the same locking and indexing applications as traditional spring plungers. Lateral spring plungers, however, are designed for lateral use. What are lateral spring plungers exactly, and how do they work?
Overview of Lateral Spring Plungers
Lateral spring plungers are characterized by the position in which they are installed. They are installed laterally, meaning they provide a side-thrust force.
All spring plungers provide some type of force, but only lateral spring plungers provide a side-force thrust. Other types of spring plungers typically provide a vertical-thrust force.
Lateral spring plungers are commonly used in the following processes:
How Lateral Spring Plungers Work
As their name suggests, lateral spring plungers — and all other spring plungers — contain a spring. The enclosed spring presses against a ball or plunger. When the spring is compressed, it will exert a lateral force against the ball or plunger.
Lateral spring plungers use the same spring-based mechanism to exert a force as all other types of spring plungers. The spring will compress while simultaneously pushing against the ball or plunger. Lateral spring plungers are simply designed for lateral use.
Things to Consider When Choosing Lateral Spring Plungers
You should consider the material when choosing lateral spring plungers. Since they are used in conjunction with other parts, they need to be strong and durable. Otherwise, the lateral spring plungers may fail while potentially damaging the parts with which they are used.
Most lateral spring plungers are made of several materials. The body, for instance, may be made of lightweight and strong aluminum, whereas the spring may be made of stainless steel.
For further protection against damage, lateral spring plungers may feature a surface finish. Some of them are galvanized, for instance. A galvanized surface finish consists of a protective layer of zinc that shields the underlying metal from damage.
Something else to consider is a seal. Some lateral spring plungers have a seal, whereas others do not.
You’ll need to choose lateral spring plungers in the right size. Precision matters for locating and indexing applications. If a lateral spring plunger is too big or too small, it may not work. Fortunately, you can find lateral spring plungers in a wide range of sizes.