Springs for the Aerospace Industry: Retractable Springs for Antenna Deployment

Hunter Spring has been providing flat spring and reel solutions for the aerospace sector for many years.

Shutterstock | Chill Chillz

The company’s constant force springs have been employed on various aircrafts to facilitate the opening and closing of cargo doors, cabin doors, and stairs. Additionally, the smaller, spring powered cable reels are used to retract everything from tray tables, luggage doors, armrests and footrests.

Outside the aircraft, Hunter Spring offers a variety of static grounding reels that are used by ground service crews when transporting fuel and refueling the aircraft. Constant force springs, developed by Hunter Spring, are also employed on landing system and navigation antennas, and even satellites.

The company’s unique STACER spring (Spiral Tube and Actuator for Controlled Extension and Retraction) is used to deploy antennas and probes on satellites after reaching orbit.

overhead storage

Mechanical Cable Reels

Hunter Spring offers a selection of spring powered cable reels with different mounting options. These spring reels, also called cable retractors, provide a quick and economical solution for counterbalancing, retrieving or returning needs

Spring reels are classified according to mounting style. Hunter Spring offers arbor mounted reels, bracket mounted reels and base mounted reels.  These reels have a diameter range of 2.0" to 6.0" and are capable of providing pull forces from 0.5 lbs to 35.0 lbs.

Custom reels with up to 94 lbs of force are also available.

The larger, steel reels from Hunter Spring are often used as door closers on airplanes, trains, elevators, trucks and loading docks. The smaller, plastic reels are commonly used as cable management devices or for retracting lighter weight objects such as tray tables, armrests, and sliding drawers.

Cable retractors with either constant force or constant torque are also available from Hunter Spring. These reels use a constant force spring (Negator) instead of a conventional power spring, and they are known as spring motor assemblies or B-motors.

Hunter Spring works closely with OEMs in the aerospace industry to develop custom spring reels for specific applications. As a flat spring manufacturer, Hunter Spring has the experience and equipment to design and test very precise and specialized springs. They have been using the science of springs to solve challenges for OEMs for over 100 years.

Prestressed Power Springs (SPIR'ATOR)

Hunter Spring’s prestressed power springs are widely used in the aerospace industry.

These springs are produced by reverse winding a NEG'ATOR constant force spring on an arbor and encasing it in a retaining ring or or housing. Rotational energy can be obtained from either the case or arbor or, when linear motion is required, through the use of a cable attachment.

a collection of different types of spring

With equal torque and deflection, prestressed power springs generally need 20% less space than conventional power springs, while yielding a flatter torque gradient.

These springs are suitable for use in applications where winding, counterbalancing, and retrieving are required.

Hunter Spring’s prestressed power springs are made from 301 High Yield Stainless Steel. For custom applications, other materials such as Inconel, Elgiloy, or high-carbon steel are also used.

Springs are designed for customer specific applications. Hunter Spring offers design worksheets to give Application Engineers an opportunity to specify their requirements and to help them develop a solution to meet their application needs.

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The STACER® - the original antenna spring - was developed by Hunter Spring in the 1960's. Antenna springs can be employed in various applications; their special features have been proven in challenging military and aerospace projects for decades.

a satellite

Shutterstock | NASA images

When the STACER® is deployed, it extends quickly under its own power to form a self-supporting tube reaching lengths up to 35 feet. Its exceptional capacity for extension, without the need for external force, contributed to the STACERs success in many unique, remote deployment applications ranging from deep sea environments to outer space.

The STACER is a reliable, extendable boom commonly used for sensor probes, solar array support structures, antennas, remote positioning, linear actuators and energy absorbers.

Let Hunter Spring’s experienced Applications Engineering team assist you with your STACER design needs.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Hunter Spring.

For more information on this source, please visit Hunter Spring.


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