A spring is an elastic object that stores mechanical energy. They are typically made of spring steel. There are many spring designs. In everyday use, the term often refers to coil springs.
When a conventional spring, without stiffness variability features, is compressed or stretched from its resting position, it exerts an opposing force approximately proportional to its change in length (this approximation breaks down for larger deflections). The rate or spring constant of a spring is the change in the force it exerts, divided by the change in deflection of the spring. That is, it is the gradientof the force versus deflection curve. An extension or compression spring's rate is expressed in units of force divided by distance, for example lbf/in or N/m. A torsion spring is that works by twisting; when it is twisted about its axis by an angle, it produces a torque proportional to the angle. A torsion spring's rate is in units of torque divided by angle, such as N·m/rad or ft·lbf/degree. The inverse of spring rate is compliance, that is: if it has a rate of 10 N/mm, it has a compliance of 0.1 mm/N. The stiffness (or rate) of them in parallel is additive, as is the compliance of them in series.
They are made from a variety of elastic materials, the most common being spring steel. Small springs can be wound from pre-hardened stock, while larger ones are made from annealed steel and hardened after fabrication. Some non-ferrous metals are also used including phosphor bronze and titanium for parts requiring corrosion resistance and beryllium copper for them carrying electrical current (because of its low electrical resistance).