Spring Washers Are More Diverse Than You Think

Juliet D'cruz

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If you need to buy spring washers for shock absorption, flexible tension, and other benefits, you have many options—perhaps more than you realize. That’s because spring washers are quite diverse.


Also called disc springs, these washers are usually made from flexible and resistant materials. Stainless steel and annealed spring steel washers are able to be flexed and compressed between parts but they will still retain their shape. 

The material that spring washer manufacturers use to stamp these parts is integral to their performance and is fairly consistent across most types of spring washers. Their real diversity comes from their many shapes and types, which include the following:

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Wave Washers

Wave washers are some of the most common types of spring washers. They can be thought of as a flat washer that has been modified so that the surface has one or more curves. The curves or waves deliver a defection action. 

The greater the number of waves, the more spring-back they deliver when compressed. One-wave washers deliver light deflection of load and are useful for light tensioning and protection against abrasion. 

Three-wave washers or five-wave washers will provide stronger deflection, and can be used for light shock absorption and more robust flexible tension between parts. These features can be enhanced when wave washers are stacked.

Single Wave Washers

Not to be confused with one-wave washers, single-wave washers have a raised or domed center that does not extend to the washer’s outer diameter. They are most effective in applications that need a slight clearance between parts or softer materials in order to prevent abrasion.

Belleville Washers

Belleville washers are characterized by their conical or cone shape, which is more narrow at the inner diameter and widens to the outer diameter. This shape facilitates the strong deflection of heavier loads. 

When they are stacked in a uniform manner, they provide a strong spring-back action. When stacked from end to end, they will absorb a substantial amount of shock absorption and support. Belleville washers can also be used in locking or trigger mechanisms in munitions and similar applications.

Split Washers

Split washers have a single split in their surface and are shaped so that the ends meet but one is slightly higher than the other. Since the surface of the washer is now uneven, it will provide a slight deflective action in a similar manner as a wave washer. Split washers are most used to retain tension between bolts and to better stabilize fastener assemblies. 

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Dome Washers

Dome washers are unsurprisingly dome-shaped, with a curved surface across the washer’s outer diameter. The outer edges are ground so they sit flush with the installation material. They deliver balanced load distribution and deflective support between fasteners but not a strong spring-back action.

Crescent Washers

Crescent washers are very similar to dome washers, but with a more subtle curvature and without its outer diameter edges ground flat. They provide less of a deflection than dome washers but comparable balancing between parts, which makes them useful for load-cycling purposes.

Finger Washers

Finger washers have the greatest deviation from conventional flat washers, mainly because of protruding flanges, which are curved. They may also have additional splits in their surface. Finger washers provide flexibility along with strong shock absorption. This makes them useful for damping noise and vibration in tight spaces. They can also be used to add stability to ball bearing and rotating assemblies.