The anatomy of air springs: Exploring the world of air spring products in South Africa with Air Spring Supply Company

In the world of mechanical engineering and industrial applications, the role of air springs cannot be overstated. These versatile components, with their ability to provide suspension, isolation, and actuation, play a crucial role in ensuring various vehicles’ smooth and efficient operation. In South Africa, Air Spring Supply Company is a premier supplier, offering a comprehensive range of air spring products to cater to the diverse needs of various industries. This article delves into the fascinating world of air springs, explores their anatomy and applications, and highlights the significance of Air Spring Supply Company as South Africa’s sole distributor for Firestone Industrial Products Company.

Understanding air springs: The basics

At their core, air springs contain a column of air encased within a rubber bellow or sleeve. This design allows them to serve various purposes, including suspension, isolation, and actuation. Air springs are commonly found in vehicle suspension systems, often working in conjunction with coil springs.

Air spring operation is relatively straightforward. They use an air compressor to fill and empty a malleable air bladder. The weight or load is attached to a piston or bead plate directly supported by the enclosed air, resulting in slight deflection. It’s worth noting that the primary load-bearing element is the air itself, rather than the rubber liner, which primarily serves to contain the gas. A self-levelling mechanism is frequently incorporated into air springs to maintain a consistent load, and in some designs, a secondary coil spring is added for additional support. Moreover, electronic air spring systems have become available and are capable of monitoring air pressure, filtering compressor air to protect the rubber bellows, and include a locking mechanism to retain air inside the spring in case of compressor or airline failure.

The anatomy of air springs: Components and composition

Let’s break down their essential components and composition to better understand how air springs function.

  • Air fitting: This is a tapped hole through which the air compressor supplies the spring with air.
  • Nut/bolt/mount: The method by which the air spring is attached to the component. Some air springs have a bolt and air-fitting combo mechanism built into their design.
  • Bead plate: Typically made of forged steel, cast zinc alloy, or cast aluminium, the bead plate is a crimped metal plate that encloses and attaches the spring.
  • Bellows: The bellows are constructed from a physical, multi-layer material, typically neoprene or rubber, and hold the compressed gas.
  • Girdle: This piece of metal separates the bellows chambers in convoluted air springs.
  • Bumper: An optional layer of cushioning that protects the piston in the event of air spring failure.
  • Piston: Attached to the machinery that requires suspension, the piston is supported by the enclosed air. Additional hardware is often used to secure the piston housing.

Types of air springs: Versatility meets specialisation

Beyond custom-fabricated air springs, three primary types of market-ready air springs are available from leading air spring product suppliers.

  • Crimped, convoluted bellows: These feature a permanent crimp in the plate connecting the bellow to the bead plate. They excel in applications such as vibration isolation and linear or angular actuation. However, they are not typically used for automobile suspensions.
  • Sleeve bellows: These bellows use an external clamp to secure the bellows to the bead plate. They offer high vibration isolation but are primarily suited for linear actuation. As such, they are less commonly used in suspension systems.
  • Rolling lobe bellows: Rolling lobe bellows differ from the other types in that they use a piston, rather than a bead plate, at one end of the bellows. This design is most prevalent in automobile suspensions but is not recommended for vibration isolation applications.

Air spring specifications: Why air springs are a smart choice

When considering air springs in various applications, several key factors make them a smart choice.

  • Installation: Air springs, despite offering capabilities comparable to pneumatic cylinders and other springs, are often more cost-effective. Additionally, they have a small footprint when deflated, making them easy to operate and attach to machinery.
  • Maintenance: Air springs have minimal maintenance requirements; some manufacturers even claim that their air springs are maintenance-free. Unlike conventional springs, they do not require lubrication, and there are no seals or guides that can become misaligned or broken. While air spring bellows may develop dry rot over time, this process typically takes several years. Air springs should be stored at room temperature in dry, dark areas to maximise their lifespan.
  • Environmental suitability: Air springs are suitable for various industrial and commercial applications thanks to their durability and simplicity. While rubber and neoprene, the materials commonly used in air springs, can be subject to dry rot, this can be mitigated by maintaining a dehumidified environment. These materials are suitable for high and low-temperature applications, though they have less heat tolerance than metal spring alternatives. Neoprene, for instance, is ideal for temperatures up to 65°C but should not be used below -40°C, while rubber is unsuitable for temperatures below -60°C.

Air Spring Supply Company: Elevating South African industry

Among the various suppliers of air spring products in South Africa, Air Spring Supply Company is the sole distributor for Firestone Industrial Products Company. This distinction places us at the forefront of the industry, offering access to world-class air spring solutions that cater to the unique needs of South African businesses.

The Firestone advantage

As a Firestone Industrial Products Company distributor, we bring expertise and innovation to the South African market. Firestone, a trusted name in the global automotive and industrial sectors, is renowned for its commitment to quality, reliability, and cutting-edge technology.

A comprehensive range

We offer a comprehensive range of air springs and related products to meet the diverse requirements of industries across South Africa. Whether you’re looking for air springs for automotive suspensions, industrial equipment, or specialised applications, we have you covered.

Technical expertise

In addition to providing top-quality air spring product supplies, we offer valuable technical support and expertise. Our team of professionals can assist you in selecting the right air spring solution for your specific needs, ensuring optimal performance and efficiency.

Contact Air Spring Supply Company for details

Contact us today to partner with the leading air spring product supplier in South Africa.