All Springs Are Not Equal
Wave Springs offer the unique advantage of space savings when used to replace coil springs. With their smooth, circular coiled sinusoidal wave form, and rolled round edges of pre-tempered wire, Smalley’s edgewound Wave Springs offer many advantages:

  • Reduced spring height by 50%
  • Same force and deflection as coil springs
  • Fit tight radial and axial spaces
  • Over 4,000 standard sizes in carbon and stainless steel.
  • No Tooling Charges for special designs
  • Exotic alloys for all environments 
  1. RAILTEX 2019
    13 May 2019

    In our industry, it’s vital to keep moving forward; to constantly innovate and to allow your clients and customers to do the same.

    The best way to expand your horizons is to speak to true experts in the field, which is why TFC will be exhibiting at the Railtex event for the first time. We will be exhibiting our huge range of standard fasteners as well as our more specialised Smalley product at the Railtex exhibition, from the 14th – 16th of May 2019.

    Railtex is firmly established as the place to be for those active in today’s thriving rail industry. The largest rail exhibition in the UK for over 20 years, its role is to facilitate trade, provide unique networking opportunities and educational sessions over three days and under one roof.

    Railtex attracts international visitors and exhibitors as well as industry-leading keynote speakers, all of which provide the ideal platform for the industry to come together and do business.

    We look forward to seeing you at the event. You can find the registration link in the event details section or check out the Railtex website for more information.

    If you’d like more information on our exhibit, or the products that we’ll be showcasing at Railtex, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

    RAILTEX 2019
  2. Application Spotlight: Self-Locking Rings in Automotive Applications
    5 April 2019

    TFC offers an array of standard retaining rings for different automotive applications. Selecting the appropriate ring requires an understanding of the application requirements, which includes thrust load, groove dimensions, and many others. If your application rotates at high speeds, the rotational capacity of the retaining ring will be important to consider.

    When an application requires that the retaining ring rotates in an external groove, failure may occur when centrifugal forces are great enough to expand the ring so that it no longer clings in the groove. When this rotational capacity is exceeded, Smalley can help design a self-locking ring to increase the rotational capacity by ensuring that the ring continues to cling to the groove.

    These rings have a tab that “lock” into a slot on the outside diameter or in the centre-line of the radial wall. This lock keeps the ring’s diameter from expanding. In addition to preventing the ring from expanding, the self-locking feature can also help the ring to better withstand vibration, rapid acceleration, and degree of impact loading.  Sometimes the self-locking feature is even used on internal retaining rings to help with vibration and impact loading, even though rotational capacity is not a concern.

    Self-locking rings are often specified for transmission and gearbox applications. Rings are the main retention method within the assemblies to retain high speed rotating gears and bearings. These components are obviously critical to the function of the gearbox or transmission. This rotation can often exceed the rotational capacity for many retaining rings, and if a ring slips out of place, the entire assembly can fail, causing serious damage.  With the technological advances of electric cars, the electric motors used to power the wheels are subjects to rapid acceleration, vibration, and of course high RPMs. A Smalley self-locking ring can be used to prevent damage or premature failures of the motors and/or their individual components.

    Besides automotive applications, self-locking rings are used in many other designs, including aerospace and industrial.  Smalley can also manufacture these rings in different materials depending on the environmental requirements, or with the locking mechanisms in different positions depending on your needs. Smalley engineers are ready to help you design the perfect self-locking retaining ring for your application contact them now to find out which self-locking rings will suit your automotive application.

    Application Spotlight: Self-Locking Rings in Automotive Applications
  3. Application Spotlight: Wave Springs for Bearing Preload
    20 March 2019

    What is bearing preload?

    When assembling individual bearing components, the outer race, inner race, balls, and retainer all work together so that there is a controlled amount of internal clearance between the rings and balls. This radial play is necessary for proper operation, however, in most applications, it is also necessary to help reduce or eliminate the internal clearance to maintain correct functionality.

    To remove this internal clearance, an axial load can be placed on a bearing race independently of the external load placed on it. This is called preloading, and it ensures constant contact - reducing or eliminating any play that may occur between components. This becomes a critical factor in most high-precision and high-speed applications.

    There are two types of bearing preload: fixed and spring. In fixed bearing preload, the position of the inner and outer races of each bearing is mechanically fixed using either a dead weight (adhesive based) or through building in an axial adjustment that puts pressure on the bearings. Spring loading provides a constant load that can accommodate slight misalignments and is less expensive than fixed preloading.

    Why is it important?

    Benefits of preloading a bearing include:

    • Extends bearing lifespan
    • Elimination of ball skidding
    • Vibration reduction
    • Noise reduction
    • Precise shaft positioning
    • Greater load sharing between bearings
    • Rotational accuracy
    • Control and reduction of axial and radial deflection under applied load

    Why use a wave spring for bearing pre-load?

    A wave spring can provide all the benefits of spring pre-loading while also taking up dimensional variation from thermal expansion or cyclic loading. we can offer many types of wave springs for the enormous range of applications across many industries.

    Which wave spring should I choose for my application?

    Every application is unique, which makes selecting the proper wave spring very important. We have a standard bearing preload wave spring series (SSB), designed for popular bearing sizes. It should be noted that overall tolerances will be a very important factor as placing too much preload on the bearing can reduce longevity, while too little can cause higher noise output in high vibration systems.

    Correct material selection will also be vital, as the incorrect material choice can lead to failure in operation.  While we wave springs are stocked in both Carbon Steel and 17-7 Stainless Steel, we are able to offer wave springs in a variety of alloys to meet your application’s operating conditions.  For more information, reference our materials page. If you do not see a material you are looking for, please contact Smalley Engineering.

    What if I have more questions or do not see a standard that fits?

    If one of our standard parts doesn’t work for you, we can help design a custom spring for your preload needs.  Standard or custom,  our engineers are available to help you choose the best part for your application. 

    Application Spotlight: Wave Springs for Bearing Preload
  4. FAST LIVE 2019 The Silverstone Wing, Silverstone, Northants
    7 March 2019

    FAST Live is your opportunity to meet with the true experts in fastening and bonding. Discover lighter, cheaper and better alternatives to traditional fasteners, see new joining processes and connect with some of the UK’s leading fastening suppliers.

    FAST Live will be held at The Silverstone Wing, Silverstone Circuit, Northamptonshire. The opening hours are from 08.30 to 14.30 on Thursday 9th May 2019. Remember to register for your free visitor badge! We look forward to seeing you there!

    FAST LIVE 2019 The Silverstone Wing, Silverstone, Northants
  5. Our Finishes for Retaining Rings and Wave Springs
    1 March 2019

    Whether you need added corrosion resistance or simply want to change the appearance of your part, we can offer a wide range of finishing processes to ensure that your retaining rings and springs perform the way that they need to in your application. Below is a list of some of the more common choices that we have available.

    Oil Dip

    Oil Dip is a standard finish for all of our Smalley products produced in carbon steel. The oil provides resistance to corrosion in transport and in normal storage, however, the oil dip finish should not be considered a permanent finish.

    Vapor Degrease/Ultrasonic Clean

    This is the standard cleaning process used for all stainless steel parts. The process removes oil, grease, and other organic compounds from the parts’ surface. Ultrasonics are used as part of the process to force the solvent to act between the turns of the ring or spring.

    Vibratory or Hand Deburring

    These are optional processes that we can provide to remove burrs and break sharp corners and edges that may occur on the gap ends due to the cut-off operation after coiling. Circumferential surfaces and edges of Smalley parts are already smooth due to the nature of the flat wire and do not require deburring.


    Passivation is an optional cleaning process available for stainless steel.  It provides a bright finish and increased corrosion resistance.  Passivation dissolves iron particles and other substances that have become embedded in the surface of the material during production.  If not dissolved and removed, these contaminants could promote rusting, discolouration, or pitting in more corrosive environments.

    Black Oxide

    Black Oxide is a finish that provides a flat black appearance that is generally used as an aesthetic change instead of an improvement in corrosion resistance.

    Zinc Plating

    This is used on carbon steel to increase the corrosion resistance of the product.  It is sometimes used as a more cost-effective alternative to other platings or stainless steel. Smalley’s standard zinc platings, Type V and Type VI, are RoHS compliant. Zinc plating does not guarantee coverage between the turns of multiple turn rings and springs. (The process does subject the part to the possibility of hydrogen embrittlement. We offer stainless steel as a preferable alternative.)

    Zinc Phosphate

    Also known as “Parkerizing,” Zinc Phosphate can only be applied to carbon steel. It appears grey-black in colour and has superior corrosion resistance to black oxide, but inferior to zinc plating or stainless steel.

    To learn more about finishes, materials and other customisations contact our expert engineers, they will be happy to answer any questions and help you to find the right part for your application.

    Our Finishes for Retaining Rings and Wave Springs
  6. Applications – Nested Spirawave® Wave Springs
    8 February 2019

    Our new Nested Spirawave® Wave Springs can be used in applications across many different industries. They are used to replace a stack of single-turn wave springs or when a single-turn spring cannot produce the forces necessary within an application. Below are just a few examples of how nested springs can be used.

    Applications for Nested Spirawave Wave Springs

    Bearing Preload

    Nested Spirawave springs produce two to three times more force than a single-turn wave spring. In very high load applications, a three-turn nested spring is able to produce the high forces necessary for heavy duty bearing preload. This is necessary in order to reduce play, and also to limit noise and vibration within an assembly.


    Nested springs can provide a high spring force with a low profile in a valve where space is limited. When pressure is applied to the sealing surface, the spring will compress to keep the seal closed. When the seal begins to wear, the spring keeps pressing the seal tight against the surface.


    In a connector, the male end rotates, following the groove contour in the female end, with the Nested Spirawave providing the preload between the two halves. The nested spring provides the high load needed in a very tight radial and axial space.


    A two-turn nested spring replaces a stack of single-turn wave springs to provide the needed spring force to hold the ends together. A small amount of travel allows for the movement necessary to disconnect the ends when required.

    Push Seal
    A Nested Spirawave can provide a higher force than a single-turn wave spring while maintaining the precise spring rate necessary to preserve a proper seal. The exact pressure of the face against the sealing surface is essential to avoid excessive wear while maintaining this proper seal.

    Smalley’s Nested Spirawave springs have been available as a custom for over 30 years, but are now available as a standard series! They are available in carbon and 17-7 PH stainless steel from .500 to 4″ or 16 to 100 mm, with thousands available for next day shipping. Smalley engineers are available to consult on how a custom or standard nested spring can benefit your application.

    Need more information about Smalley’s Nested Spirawave springs?

    View the new range: Metric | Imperial

    Contact our technical team on +(0)1435 866011 for further information.

    Standard or custom, TFC will provide you with the right part, in the right material, with No Tooling Charges™.




    Applications – Nested Spirawave® Wave Springs
  7. Introducing our newest Wave Spring Series: Nested Spirawave® Springs
    29 January 2019

    We are proud to announce the first standard range of nested wave springs on the market. They will now be available from stock in carbon and 17-7 PH stainless steel from .500 to 4″ or 16 to 100 mm. 

    What are the benefits of Nested Spirawave Wave Springs?

    Two to three times the force

    Nested wave spring forces increase proportionally with the number of turns in the coil. Compressing a wave spring creates bending, or tensile stresses, which can limit the amount of force the spring can produce without failing or permanently deforming. It is recommended that the calculated operating stress be less than the minimum tensile strength of the material in static applications and less than 80% of the minimum tensile strength in dynamic applications. Stacking single-turn springs can achieve a higher load, but one Nested spring provides the desired load without the complication of stacking multiple parts.

    Eliminate uneven loading

    When an assembly demands a stack of single-turn wave springs, they have to be aligned perfectly to prevent binding or uneven loading when compressed. Because Nested Spirawave springs are made from one continuous filament of flat wire, coiled in parallel, the layers stay aligned, allowing for consistent loading.

    Simple automated handling

    Nested Spirawave Springs are ideal for automated processes. Their study, multi-turn design allows for pick and place methods without the risk of deformation that can occur when a robotic arm picks up a single-turn wave spring. This design has no free ends, making it tangle-resistant, reducing assembly time.

    Quicker installation

    Single-turn wave springs stacks need to be installed precisely and individually to guarantee proper alignment and repeatability. Nested springs can be easily placed into assemblies, which leads to both time and cost savings.

    Quick delivery time

    Now that Nested Spirawave springs are a standard series from Smalley, thousands of carbon and stainless steel parts from .500 to 4″ are available for next day shipment. Non-stock quantities can be available in as little as three weeks.

    View the new range.

    If one of our new standard series springs doesn’t fit your application, Smalley can design you a custom Nested Spirawave. Custom or standard, we’ll get you the right part, in the right material, with No Tooling Costs™.

    Contact us to request a free nested wave spring sample, or ask a TFC Engineer how a Nested Spirawave would fit into your application.

    Introducing our newest Wave Spring Series: Nested Spirawave® Springs
  8. Colour variations in materials
    6 December 2018

    Smalley retaining rings and wave springs can be manufactured in many different types of alloys. Each of these materials has specific properties which make them appropriate for use. Common alloys used include:

    • Carbon steel
    • Stainless Steel (302, 316, 17-7)
    • A-286
    • Inconel (X-750, 718, 625, etc.)
    • Elgiloy®
    • MP35N®
    • Beryllium Copper

    Operating environment must be considered when choosing materials; because temperature, atmosphere, and presence of contaminants will heavily influence material choice.  In order to ensure that our parts function properly when operating in these different environments, a number of processes are often used.

    Post-Production Procedures

    Heat treatment is a process that enhances the material properties of the metal, such as tensile strength and/or hardness. Open air heat treatment is the standard practice at Smalley, and in this type of heat treatment, there is no special control to the atmosphere. This may cause heat scale to form, which can alter the colour of the metal. Atmosphere controlled heat treats may be used in some cases that reduce the colour variation after heat treat.

    Stress relieving is a heating process that removes internal stresses created by the coiling process. Without stress relief, the diameter of the part can open up, which is not detrimental for internal rings which cling on the outside diameter, but for external rings, it is problematic since it could reduce the cling.

    Passivation is performed on stainless steels using an acid based solution to dissolve or loosen iron particles and other substances that are embedded on the surface of the material. This allows for the formation of a better oxide layer to enhance the corrosion resistance of stainless steels.

    Colour Change

    All of these methods can cause a colour change in metals. Colour variations are strongly influenced by the environment, temperature, and length of time exposed to these temperatures.  Below are some typical colour variations:

    • 17-7 stainless: blue, brown, or grey
    • A-286: blue or grey
    • Carbon steel: blue, black, or grey

    Steel is commonly thought of as silver or grey in colour, so it can come as a shock when steel rings or springs arrive in a different colour. These colour changes do not have an effect on the fit, form, or function of the parts. These changes are a side-effect from improving the properties of the material to make them more effective in the application.

    What to do about colour variation in materials

    The most important thing to remember is, once again, that these colour changes will not affect your part in any way relating to its performance. TFC always works with you to get you the exact part you need, so from the start of the design process, we will urge you to consider exactly what is important for your ring or spring. If a part is visible and the colour is critical to your application’s needs, we offer a number of different solutions like vacuum heat treatment, passivation, special finish, polishing or plating. It is important to consider the added time and cost of adding these supplementary manufacturing processes, though; if the part cannot be seen, it is likely to be an unnecessary expenditure.

    You can learn more about our material selection by downloading our Material Selection Guide or contact us on our website. TFC’s Expert Engineers are also available to discuss your design’s most critical components with you. Contact our technical team for more information.

    Colour variations in materials
  9. Smalley Wins GM Supplier Quality Excellence Award for 6th Consecutive Year
    29 October 2018

    TFC’s manufacturing partner, Smalley was presented with the 2017 General Motors Supplier Quality Excellence Award, marking the sixth consecutive year Smalley has achieved this prestigious honour. 175 suppliers were presented with this award in 2017, but Smalley was just one of five who have received it six years in a row.
    GM has been recognising its notable suppliers with the Quality Award since 2012, and it is only provided to companies that meet 13 rigorous quality points.

    Standards to be met included:

    • No late delivery times
    • No plant disruptions/unauthorised changes
    • QSB or BIQS Level III or higher certification
    • No customer satisfaction or product management problem reporting and resolution (PRR) for 12 months

    “Winning this award for six years in a row is unbelievable,” says Andy Postula, Senior Quality Engineer at Smalley. “We take our quality standards very seriously here, and to be recognised for another consecutive year is incredible. We feel so honoured to be among the select few to receive this award from its inception, especially with GM’s huge supplier base. We’ll continue to work hard to stay at the top of the industry.”

    Smalley has been a trusted partner in the automotive industry for over 50 years. All of Smalley’s products are manufactured to ISO 9001, IATF 16949, AS 9100, and ISO 14001, and the vigorous in-house quality and inspection processes has Smalley continuing to be a leading producer of precision retaining rings and wave springs for the automotive industry.

    About Smalley: For over 50 years, Smalley has been the leading manufacturer of retaining rings and wave springs for OEM engineers worldwide. As an ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 company, we deliver quality products certified to ISO/TS16949, AS9100 and ISO 13485. Custom or standard, we are dedicated to delivering the right part, in the right material for your application.

    Smalley Wins GM Supplier Quality Excellence Award for 6th Consecutive Year
  10. Which Exotic Alloy is right for your application?
    12 October 2018

    We are able to offer several materials that are ideal for sub-sea applications.

    What alloy would you recommend for a sub-sea application?

    Our AISI 316 stainless steel alloy can withstand the corrosive effects of seawater but, for higher corrosion resistance we can also provide our Smalley products manufactured from Inconel X-750, Inconel 718 and Elgiloy as well as other optional materials.

    I am working on a new project that requires all components to be manufactured out of nonmagnetic
    material and would like to know what my options are?

    For applications requiring truly non-magnetic components we recommend using Beryllium Copper,
    Phosphor Bronze or A-286 stainless steel, depending upon the application. However there are other
    non-magnetic material available. Typically 302 and 316 stainless steels are thought to be nonmagnetic
    but they both become slightly magnetic due to the cold working process used to
    manufacture the flat wire. Our Technical Engineers are on hand to discuss your exact application
    and to offer their recommendations.

    My application requires that the retaining rings are plated for corrosion resistance. What
    types of plating options do you offer?

    We can offer cadmium, zinc and nickel platings for our Smalley retaining ring products for
    corrosion resistance as well as zinc phosphate and black oxide for moderate corrosion resistance. It
    is important to consider the type of retaining ring where plating is involved because, if the ring has
    multiple turns (or spirals), it can be difficult and expensive to ensure the plating fully covers the
    surface between the turns. In these cases we recommend manufacturing the rings in a corrosion
    resistant material such as 302 or 316 stainless steel. If higher temperatures are a concern, consider
    using 17-7 stainless steel, A-286 stainless steel or Inconel.

    For more than 40 years, TFC has been growing to become one of the industry leaders and suppliers
    of retaining rings, constant section rings and wave springs. Whether you require a standard or
    custom solution, our dedicated team of engineers can design a solution for your target application

    Contact our Technical team on +44(0)1435 866011 or e-mail with any questions you may have.


    Which Exotic Alloy is right for your application?
  11. Product Spotlight: Smalley Internal Retaining Rings
    28 September 2018

    Spirolox® or internal spiral retaining rings

    Spirolox® retaining rings are an alternative to a stamped retaining ring. Smalley manufacture these differently to a traditional stamped ring, Spirolox rings are designed without ears or lugs. This prevents any interference with mating components and creates a uniform cross-section. Instead of using the ears or lugs for installation and removal, these rings can be wound into a groove and removed with a simple screwdriver. No special tools or pliers are required for installation and removal. Smalley achieved this design by coiling flat wire through a process called Edgewinding™. To create a stronger retaining ring, consider increasing the number of turns, wire thickness and adjusting the radial wall. Rings with at least two turns also provide a 360° retaining surface.

    Standard Spirolox® rings are separated into categories based on the load required for the application. These categories are as follows: Light (VH and VHM series), Medium (WH series), Medium Heavy (WHT series), and Heavy (WHM series). The DNH, EH, and VHM series are all Spirolox® rings that are specifically designed in metric sizes. DNH, EH, WH, and WHM series of rings are specifically designed to meet the quality specifications for military and aerospace applications.


    Bike Lock – Two-turn Spirolox® Retaining Ring

    This heavy-duty or WHM internal ring is used within the bike lock because of its thick cross-section. This ring was designed with the orientation of the removal notch facing inwards, eliminating the possibility of removal. This specific design prevents tampering with the lock and theft.

    Constant Section Rings

    Constant section rings are a heavier duty retaining ring that are also coiled from flat wire. These rings are specified for impact loading applications and can typically be found in automotive or industrial assemblies. Internal constant section ring series are FHE and the XAH. The XAH series rings are interchangeable with Eaton style snap rings. The metric equivalents of both are the FH and HDX series. Internal constant section rings are available with a wide variety of end types from U-Notch to Scalloped. A complete list of constant section end types can be found here.

    Actuator Valve – Constant Section Ring

    The heavy-duty XAH internal constant section ring was specified because of its ability to absorb the shock loading of the pistons. This application required a ring designed to withstand a high thrust and a ring with special ends due to the location of the ring within the assembly.

    Hoopster® Rings

    Hoopster® retaining rings are designed with an extremely low profile and are used in applications with limited space. These internal retaining rings offer minimal radial projection and can operate within a shallow groove. Internal Hoopster rings are classified depending on whether or not the ring is designed with bent ends for removal. The HHU (imperial) and HHMU (metric) series are designed without a removal notch, meaning the ends nearly meet to create a perfect circle. In contrast, the HH (imperial) and HHM (metric) series are designed with a removal provision so one end of the ring is slightly crimped. This makes it easier to remove the ring inside a housing. Below is an example of an application that features a Hoopster internal ring with bent ends as well as one without.

    Thin-Walled Cylinder – Hoopster® Ring

    This cylinder required a retaining ring to hold the two components together. However, the assembly did not offer enough space for a standard retaining ring groove. A Hoopster® ring was selected due to its low profile and the shallow groove depth. The cylinder on the left shows a standard HHU ring with bent ends whereas the cylinder on the right shows an HH ring with standard ends.

    Wave Rings®

    The Internal WaveRing® series (WHW) are a unique style of retaining ring. These rings have a wave allowing them to compress as well as perform similarly to a standard retaining ring. Wave Rings can compensate for extended tolerance of stacked components. These rings can reduce vibration within an assembly.  This is possible because the Wave Ring is applying pressure against the groove and against the assembly components. Custom Wave Rings are also available in a single turn configuration.

    Gear Bracket – Wave Ring®

    In this application, the Wave Ring® acts as a hybrid between a retaining ring and a wave spring. It retains the bracket together while allowing for slight compression in the assembly. This specific Wave Ring is designed in a two-turn configuration and features a removal notch.


    Smalley offers a variety of standard internal retaining rings, from Spirolox® to WaveRings®.  But did you know that any of these rings can be customized for your application? Material thickness, alloy, number of turns, and end type can all be designed to meet your specific application requirements. Challenge a Smalley engineer to design an internal retaining ring for your application. Check out our new Retaining Ring FAQ to learn more about our Spirolox® Retaining Rings. 

    Product Spotlight: Smalley Internal Retaining Rings
  12. Three reasons why Wave Springs are a great alternative to Disc Springs
    13 August 2018

    Disc Springs, also known as Belleville Washers, along with die-stamped Wave Washers, are commonly used in high load engineering applications such as clutches and valves. However there are some major problems involved in their manufacture that makes TFC's Smalley Wave Springs a preferred choice for some engineers. Here are three reasons why:

    1 Quality – A common problem associated with disc springs and wavy washers occurs because of the differences in mechanical properties as a result of variances in production and heat treatment.  All die stamped products are manufactured from annealed material that requires heat treatment after stamping and, because of the inconsistency in characteristics that results from this process, the load at defined working heights can vary enormously. A Smalley Wave Spring is produced by edge-coiling pre-hardened material to the correct diameter and wave height to produce a product with a guaranteed load at specified work heights.

    2 Installation – Because of the reasons explained above, when installing disc springs, it is difficult to identify the correct number of springs/washers needed to achieve the desired load. In order to correctly understand the quantity needed, the engineer is required to 'trial and error' the assembly with a differing number of springs until the correct load characteristics are obtained. Apart from the obvious problem of time wasting, this also often results in trouble during production caused by the misalignment of the stacked components. In comparison, a single Smalley Wave Spring eliminates this guess work as it is produced to the exact specifications for the application from a single coil of material and is ready for immediate installation when received by the customer.

    3 No Tooling – Since Disc Springs and Wavy Washers are a stamped product, they require specific tooling to create the finished article whereas our Smalley products are produced by edge coiling and do not require any tooling. Furthermore, die-stamped products are produced from sheet metal and the waste products of this process, particularly where exotic materials such as Inconel and Elgiloy are concerned, is significant. The availability of Smalley products is almost instant since the wire is coiled in-house and is generally available of-the-shelf and can be produced to customer specific dimensions without compromise to the assembly.

    Depending upon the application requirement, we are able to offer a variety of alternatives to Disc Springs and Wavy Washers. Our Smalley Crest-to Crest®, Nested, Interlaced and Wavo® Springs each offer an alternative solution and have been successfully specified in many high load engineering applications.

    For more information on this exclusive range please contact our Technical Department on +44 (0)1435 866011 or via   One of our team will be pleased to discuss your application.

    Three reasons why Wave Springs are a great alternative to Disc Springs
  13. Material Update for Our Smalley Products!
    26 July 2018

    Material Update for Our Smalley Products!

    Industrial Grade MP35N has recently been added to the expansive list of materials with which our

    Smalley flat wire products can be manufactured. This unique material was added because its superior strength and corrosion resistance make it an ideal option for our Aerospace, Medical and Petro-Chem customers.

    MP35N contains a combination of nickel, cobalt, chromium and, molybdenum. Due to its ability to resist stress corrosion cracking, this material is NACE MR0175 approved and is also resistant to hydrogen sulfide, high temperature oxidation, salt water, mineral acids and hydrogen embrittlement.

    Properties include:

    • Ultra high strength

    • High toughness and ductility

    • Outstanding corrosion resistance

    • Bio-compatibility

    Potential Applications include:

    • Petro-Chem equipment

    • Aircraft and Aerospace components

    • Orthodontic and Prosthetic devices

    • Chemical and Marine equipment

    For more information on this exclusive range please contact our Technical Department on +44 (0)1435 866011 or via   One of our team will be pleased to discuss your application.

    Material Update for Our Smalley Products!
  14. Smalley Self-Locking Rings Product Spotlight
    6 July 2018

    Our familiar and popular Smalley Spirolox® Retaining Rings can also be manufactured with a unique

    self-locking feature that make them ideal for applications where high rotational speeds are involved or, where the effects of vibration, rapid acceleration or impact loading is problematic.

    Self-locking rings provide a mechanical interference via a small tab on the ring that locks into a

    corresponding slot in the opposite turn and prevents the ring from expanding out of the groove as a

    result of centrifugal forces at high rotational speeds.

    The location of the locking mechanism can be dictated by the application requirements. Internal and

    external locks are easier to install (especially when small diameters or heavy cross-section material is involved) and allow for a simple visual confirmation of proper installation.

    Where tamper-proof applications are involved 'centreline' locks are typically used and once the ring is removed from an application, the tab is broken and a new ring must be installed. This type of locking feature is also less likely to interfere with mating components within the assembly.

    Aerospace and Automotive industries often use self-locking rings because the rotational capacity

    typically meets or exceeds the application requirements and can be found in transmission and clutch


    For more information on this exclusive range please contact our Technical Department on +44 (0)1435 866011 or via   One of our team will be pleased to discuss your application.

    Smalley Self-Locking Rings Product Spotlight
  15. High-Speed Electric Motor Demands Superior Retaining Ring Products
    21 June 2018

    Our engineers were faced with a problem when asked by one of our leading automotive electric motor
    OEM's to supply a 33mm external retaining ring capable of withstanding rotational speeds in excess of
    17,000 rpm. Conventional external retaining rings (circlips) are limited by centrifugal forces when the
    forces involved are sufficient to lift the ring out of the groove and, in this case, our standard Spirolox®
    rings could only be considered suitable for rotational speeds of around 8,000 rpm.

    The solution was found by supplying a special custom designed 'Self-Locking' ring that allowed the
    ring to function properly at higher rpm's. The self-locking feature utilises a small tab on the inside turn
    of the ring that locks into a corresponding slot on the outside turn. In addition to withstanding higher
    rotational speeds, the ring is also capable of sustaining vibration, functioning under rapid acceleration
    and absorb a degree of impact loading.

    All our Smalley Spirolox® rings are manufactured using a unique edge-winding process which is as
    flexible as it is precise and accommodates design changes without the need for additional tooling or die
    modifications. This process facilitates the development of prototypes allowing the production of low
    quantity custom orders quickly and economically. Even after the initial prototypes are produced, the
    same process allows the design to be altered with simple machine adjustments or even a change of raw
    material size.

    High-Speed Electric Motor Demands Superior Retaining Ring Products
  16. FAQ's: TFC Smalley Spiral Wound Rings
    25 May 2018

    1. Do Spirolox® Rings fit stamped ring grooves?
    Yes, our Spirolox rings are designed to fit into grooves identical to those used for die-stamped circlips
    such as the Anderton, Seeger or Rotor Clip type products and, benefit the assembly by the absence of
    protruding lugs. We can supply an interchange listing for all our ranges or, alternatively, if you know
    the part number of the product you are currently using, we will be pleased to spec the appropriate
    Smalley ring for your application.
    2. How are your Smalley rings installed and/or removed?
    Our spiral wound rings can be installed one of two ways: firstly by winding (spiraling) the ring into the
    groove where possible or, by pressing the rings axially onto a shaft or into a bore with the use of a tool
    that pushes them over a tapered mandrel or through a tapered funnel. This process can easily be
    automated for production assembly where high volume applications are involved. Removal of the rings
    is simple as no special tools or bespoke pliers are required. By using a simple pick or flat bladed
    screwdriver in between the ring's removal notch and the groove, the ring can be simply wound out of
    the groove.
    3. Can the retaining ring radial wall size be changed easily?
    Yes, we can produce special designs with custom radial wall sizes because Smalley's unique edgewinding
    process allows us to modify the ring properties without the need to modify expensive bespoke
    tooling as is the norm with traditional die-stamped circlips. When changes of this type are made,
    consideration needs to be given to material availability and stress related issues associated with
    manufacture and installation. Our technical team are always pleased to offer the best design solution for
    your application.
    4. What is the upper limit for retaining ring thickness?
    The limit on the material thickness is relative to the diameter of the ring itself. There are two ways to
    increase the thickness of retaining rings: either by increasing the number of turns or by increasing the
    thickness of a single turn ring. To determine the optimal thickness we would like to understand your
    application and our technical team are on hand to review your requirements
    5. I am worried the gap/removal ends on a single turn ring will damage the cavity on my internal
    application. Can you create a closed ring, similar to a stamped ring, for the large cavity in my
    If damaging the cavity is a concern, our multiple turn Spirolox rings can offer reduced contact with the
    mating surface and is one of the primary advantages of these types of ring. Since they are produced by
    coiling flattened round wire, unlike a die stamped circlip, the edge profile of the material is not sharp
    and, because the material thickness per turn is significantly less than a single turn ring, the installation
    forces are much lower. Also, we can supply modified end configurations that may help the desired ring

    FAQ's: TFC Smalley Spiral Wound Rings
  17. FAQ: TFC's Smalley Ring & Spring Products
    6 March 2018

    1. What industries are your Smalley products used in?

    Our Smalley product customers are worldwide and encompass a broad range of environments and
    applications. Whilst our products are specified in almost every industry, we have expertise in the
    Petro-Chem, Defence, Off-Road and Automotive industries. You can find our Smalley parts specified
    in many other industrial markets and they have even been used to put a spring in the step of running

    2. Are your catalogue parts manufactured in Inconel and, if so, is it still deemed a standard part?
    Our standard materials are carbon steel, 17-7 stainless steel, 302 stainless steel and 316 stainless steel
    depending upon the product. However we can supply parts from the standard range catalogue in a wide
    variety of exotic alloys and, since our parts are manufactured by edgewinding rather than die-stamping,
    there are no tooling costs involved. As we have hundreds of alloy sections readily available from stock,
    in the factory, we can readily supply non-standard items within very short lead times. Our technical
    sales team are on hand and will find an appropriate solution.

    3. How are your Smalley parts manufactured?

    Our Smalley products have been developed using an exclusive edgewinding manufacturing process that
    requires no special tooling. A precision coiling process is utilised that coils flat wire on edge to produce
    the highest quality rings and springs available in the market. Smalley parts can be manufactured to your
    exact specification in almost any diameter, any number of turns and in any quantity. The minimal
    no-scrap process employed virtually eliminates waste and allows for the economic production of small
    prototype quantities and for parts produced in exotic alloys.

    4. Why can't you just quote it?

    TFC strive to offer the perfect Smalley part first time, every time. In order to make sure the parts fit
    your application and dimensions perfectly, we may ask questions in the early stages to ensure we are
    going to supply the exact part you need. We like to understand the application and any environmental
    constraints in order to provide you with the most cost effective solution.

    5. Can we obtain free samples of your Smalley products?

    TFC is proud to offer free samples of our standard catalogue parts that include Spirolox® retaining
    rings, wave springs and constant section rings for you to test in your application. If a standard part will
    not satisfy the application, we have a specific pricing policy that allows for the economic production of
    a small quantity of prototypes for proving purposes.

    FAQ: TFC's Smalley Ring & Spring Products
  18. Christmas Branch Closures
    15 December 2017

    Please be advised that TFC will be closing for Christmas and New Year shutdown from 22nd December 2017 until 2nd January 2018.

    The specific closure times for our regional branches is shown below.

    United Kingdom

    TFC Head Office, Heathfield

    Close: 3:45pm, 22/12/17

    Open: 8:45am, 02/01/18

    Last deliveries and despatches: 21/12/17


    TFC Basingstoke

    Close: 1:00pm, 22/12/17

    Open: 8:45am, 02/01/18

    Last UK deliveries and despatches: 21/12/17


    TFC Keighley

    Close: 12:00pm, 22/12/17

    Open: 8:00am, 02/01/18

    Last DLF deliveries: 21/12/17

    Last UPS deliveries: 20/12/17


    TFC Walsall

    Close: 12:30pm, 22/12/17

    Open: 8:15am, 02/01/18

    Last deliveries and despatches: 22/12/17


    TFC Colchester

    Close: 1:00pm, 22/12/17

    Open: 8:45am, 02/01/18

    Last UK deliveries and despatches: 21/12/17


    TFC Airdrie

    Close: 1:00pm, 22/12/17

    Open: 8:00am, 02/01/18

    Last deliveries and despatches: 21/12/17


    Christmas Branch Closures
  19. Wave Springs and Retaining Rings for Medical Applications
    24 November 2017

    As the preferred supplier to the medical industry, Smalley’s Spirolox® Retaining Rings and Wave Springs are found in medical devices from surgical instruments to implantables, imaging equipment to dental tools and more.

    Smalley is now ISO 13485:2016 certified, after a rigorous, nearly year-long application process and aggressive quality audit with a third-party registrar (DQS). This international Quality Systems Standard,written specifically for medical device manufacturers, has its foundation based on ISO 9001.

    For almost 40 years TFC have partnered with US based Smalley Steel Ring Company to become the leading European supplier and technical support centre for Smalley's Wave Springs, Spirolox Retaining Rings and Snap Rings.

    The flagship Crest-to-Crest® multi-turn compression springs have always been of interest to designers because of their axial & radial space saving features.  As engineers around the world design smaller and smaller assemblies, the question becomes, where can I find the compact components to support my designs?

    Over the past decade, in particular, Smalley's production team have significantly enhanced their ability to produce smaller and smaller springs to match the requirements of the medical and electronic industries.  This development has culminated in the recent expansion of the popular YC & YCM series down to 0.188 inches and 5 mm in diameter with special designs being available down to 0.157 inches or 4mm in diameter. 

    Smalley's unique edge-winding process enables parts to be cost effectively manufactured from many materials, including surgical 316 Stainless Steel and implantable Titanium. 

    Wave Springs are produced to reliably satisfy precise operating conditions which make them ideal for accurate load, and the tight radial and axial spaces found in many medical applications. These latest manufacture developments from Smalley have created further possibilities for designers within the medical industry where typically small cavity sizes limit the available spring force properties.

    Contact TFC’s engineering technical support team to discuss how these new small springs can enhance your application.

    Tel:- +44 (0) 1435 866011


    Wave Springs and Retaining Rings for Medical Applications
  20. Manufacturing Management Show 2017
    16 October 2017

    Ricoh Arena, Coventry. Stand C16

    22 Nov 2017 - 23 Nov 2017

    Created by the publishers of Manufacturing Management magazine, the Manufacturing Management Show brings everything you need to know about running a successful manufacturing site under one roof.
    The Manufacturing Management Show has put together a unique programme of workshop content, providing a wealth of advice and inspiration for all manufacturing professionals. Taking place on both days within the two theatres on the show floor, the subjects covered range from health & safety, IT and automation to materials handling and maintenance.
    We would love to see you at the show, please visit the events page on our website here.

    Manufacturing Management Show 2017
  21. Engineering Design Show 2017
    22 September 2017

    Ricoh Arena, Coventry. Stand F44

    18 Oct 2017 - 19 Oct 2017

    The Engineering Design Show is the UK's must-attend event for engineering, electronics and embedded design. Successful design is always evolving and improving the EDS is no different. The show offers you a fully immersive experience of innovation, inspiration, interaction and insight.

    With keynotes from senior engineers at leading brands from across aerospace, automotive, motorsport, electronics and more, the conferences at the EDS provide delegates with powerful content providing insights into the future of engineering design.

    Register here if you would like to see TFC at the show!

    Engineering Design Show 2017
  22. TFC Moves Up a Gear to Solve a Classic Problem
    29 August 2017

    TFC Moves Up a Gear to Solve a Classic Problem

    The origins of British Motor Sport began in the final year of the 19th century with a number of
    events described as 'hill-climbs', but a key event was to be a dash along a public road and up a gentle
    hill at Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex in 1902. This event neatly combined the essence of what was to
    become sprinting and speed hill-climbing, and in 1905 the world's first permanent hill-climb took
    place at what has now become the iconic Shelsley Walsh in Worcestershire.

    When Martin Rutter, an avid hill-climber, contacted us for help we were keen to assist as the
    heritage of the competition venue was matched by the application. Martin was looking to solve a
    problem with the race developed Colotti gearbox used in his specially adapted Fiat X1/9. Colotti
    Transmissions began in Italy, in 1958 when Valerio Colotti established himself as an independent
    racing gearbox designer having spent many years working in the technical departments of Ferrari
    and Maserati. His company went on to successfully develop gearboxes for many leading race teams
    of the time including the legendary Lotus, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Minardi and, the iconic Ferrari.

    Martin said, “Racing historic classic cars brings its joys but major headaches when it comes to
    sourcing components. This is where TFC came to the rescue for my Fiat X1/9 that I campaign in
    national speed hill-climb championships. An urgent and muchrequired upgrade was a Colotti race
    gearbox originally developed many decades ago by Valerio Colotti, the famous designer of many F1
    and Ferrari transmission systems. However, the build of the gearbox was held for weeks as the
    correct retaining ring for a motion shaft could not be located - that is until TFC facilitated the supply
    of a Smalley retaining ring perfect for the job. It wouldn't be possible to keep historic race cars racing
    if it wasn't for the support of companies such as TFC”.

    As the leading European supplier of Smalley products, TFC offers thousands of retaining rings to fit
    any application requirement. Smalley retaining rings are available off the shelf in carbon steel, 302
    stainless steel and 316 stainless steel.

    Visit for more details or contact our
    engineering team to discuss your application.

    TFC Moves Up a Gear to Solve a Classic Problem
  23. Have you got the right spring for your application?
    21 August 2017

    TFC’s engineers answer commonly asked Retaining Ring and Wave Spring questions.  Our Product Manager, Simon Ward, describes how to properly measure your Wave Springs to ensure that you have the right part for your application.

    What is the free height?

    It is sometimes important to know how to properly measure the free height of our Crest-to-Crest® wave springs in order to verify the correct part is being used for the application. However it is essential to understand what is meant by the term 'free height' and this is defined as the height at which a wave spring is measured in its free state.

    Insert free height image.


    How should you measure the free height of your Smalley Wave Springs?

    When done correctly, it can save valuable inspection time but, because of the finished form of our multi-turn Smalley springs, this is not always easily achieved. The following guidelines should help to correctly assess the free height of our springs:

    1) Ensure the spring is sitting on a flat surface between two parallel plates.

    2) Lower the top measuring surface until it touches the spring.

    3) Apply a slight force to deflect the spring until the crests of all waves come in contact with the loading surfaces (top & bottom).

    4) The distance between the two parallel plates is the free height.


    That’s all for now, check back next time when the team will answer more Smalley product related questions. You can see more blog entries and other application examples on our technical articles page

    Have you got the right spring for your application?
  24. FAST Exhibition - September 2017
    28 July 2017

    Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire.


    You can't beat face-to-face discussions to solve a design engineering, production engineering or supply problem, and this is an opportunity to meet with the true experts in fastening and bonding.

    The unique 'Roadshow' style of the event has been designed to provide answers for the busy people who want to get in, get around, get fastening solutions and get back to work with the minimum of time and fuss.

    Entry to the event at IWM Duxford is by pre-registration ONLY. Pre-register in advance for a VIP visitor badge and claim free exhibition entry, free parking, and a free bacon roll and brew on arrival. The exhibition opens for business at 08:30 especially for those wishing to make an early start.

    TFC will be there to answer any questions; come and visit our stand - we look forward to seeing you!

    To register for the event click here!

    FAST Exhibition - September 2017
  25. Offshore Europe 2017, Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre
    28 July 2017

    05Sep 2017 - 08 Sep 2017, Stand 5A74

    SPE Offshore Europe is recognised by offshore E&P professionals as Europe's leading E&P Event. Attending will ensure that you are up to date with the most significant technologies and can connect with a global network of 50,000+ attendees.

    Engage directly with technical experts from more than 1,000+ suppliers on the exhibition floors, from international market leaders to new innovative technology companies, to source and compare effective solutions.

    Expand your technical knowledge with exceptional insight and best practice in the industry’s largest free to-attend conference.  Produced in association with SPE, four days of cutting edge content will ensure that you and your company stay informed and competitive.

    Come and visit TFC and our manufacturing partner, Smalley, on stand 5A74.

    For more information on the event please  click here.

    Offshore Europe 2017, Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre

Buy from TFC Ltd

Request a Quote