SINGAPORE – The U.S. space industry is well along the path to transforming from government sponsorship to entrepreneurially driven private businesses. Among the public/private joint space projects is Falcon 9, which in June took two astronauts to the International Space Station. It was built by Elon Musk’s Space X.
Another privately led space project this summer had retained Bill Purdy of Purdy Engineering, a key player in engineering and design for space vehicles for decades. Based in Poolesville, MD, Bill has been the go-to guy for engineering and design in space projects, with special expertise in vehicle mechanisms. Purdy has worked in the space industry for decades with system engineering innovations and troubleshooting in many space projects.
In July 2020, he contacted John While Springs in Singapore, with a request for a unique type of volute springs. A volute spring is a compression spring in the form of a cone. Under compression, the coils slide past each other, allowing the spring to be compressed to a very short length in comparison with what would be possible with a more conventional helical spring. A common application of volute springs can be seen in tree pruning clippers
Purdy Engineering also needed these volute springs to be fabricated in stainless steel, for the space vehicle in development. After discussion over weeks regarding dimensions, force and spring design that would fit in the assembly constraints, John While Springs developed the volutes. It uses custom-made machines to produce the springs, and can work with special materials as required.
Making springs for space vessels is not an everyday task at John While Springs – the company is part of the global Lesjoforsab Group, so the staff found it exciting. The technical engineers did their utmost with even further quality improvements on the springs going beyond the customer request.
But why did the American company choose to select a spring manufacturer half the world away? Roy Loh, Vice President spring technology Asia says he was told, “John While Springs was the most responsive company to the request and that it was just as easy to work with a company in Singapore as it is to have the supplier next door. We are very happy to contribute with our knowledge and capability to such an exotic business for us.”