Menu Search

Six Types of Spring Plungers

Spring plungers and cam levers work differently. A cam lever or clamp is a simple fastening device used for releasing equipment from its fixed position. On the other hand, a spring lever is a mechanical tool that allows you to fix a component into a specific position.

There are many things you need to consider before buying a spring plunger. At this stage, you should ask questions like, “What is the installation process for this plunger?” “What is the plunger’s thread length and thread size?” and “what can this device do?”

A spring plunger isn't a one-size-fits-all tool, which means you have many options to choose from, depending on your needs and how well they answer the questions listed above. This article will look at six major types of spring plungers and what you can use them for.

In this article we will take a closer look at:

1. What are Spring Plungers and what are they used for? 
    > What are Spring Plungers?
    > What are Ball Plungers?
    > How do Spring Plungers work?
    > What are Spring Plungers used for?

2. Hand Retractable Spring Plungers
3. Threaded Spring Plungers
4. Press Fit Spring Plungers
5. Pull Pin Spring Plungers
6. Push Pin Spring Plungers
5. Indexing Plungers
6. Summary

What Are Spring Plungers and What Are They Used For?

What are spring plungers?
Spring plungers are indexing devices used for positioning and locking different components of equipment in place. By exerting some degree of pressure on their ball or nose, spring plungers keep the components in the same position.

Depending on the type of spring plunger purchased, you can install it using various methods like slotted drive, hex socket, and slotted drive. You should also consider the force of a spring-loaded device as part of your purchasing criteria — that is, whether it exerts light, standard, or heavy end-force on equipment.

What are ball plungers?
A ball plunger is a spring-loaded device that has a ball on its tip. It moves in and out of position, and is often used in rolling and detent applications. Most ball plungers have a thread locking element that keeps them in place after their installation.

How do spring plungers work?
When a spring plunger comes in contact with some degree of force, this pressure compresses its in-built spring and moves the nose into the desired position. This way, the spring plunger can lock a component into a specific placement.

What are spring plungers used for?
Spring plungers have many uses. For one, they can serve as some type of cushion between two objects. You can also use these devices as some form of support between objects or to eject a component from its groove.  

Hand Retractable Spring Plungers

Hand retractable plungers are made of brass, steel, or stainless steel for protection against corrosion. This device can have 10-32 to 1-8 threads plus a piano or stainless steel wire thread, depending on the type.

Hand retractable plungers can be used for many industrial, medical, and consumer applications. Typically, they serve as indexing, positioning, and fastening components. You can also use them on sports and recreational equipment.

This type of plunger allows for swift one-handed operations. All you have to do is twist the handle 90 degrees, and it will lock the plunger in.

Threaded Spring Plungers

Threaded spring plungers work with different industrial applications like machine tools and woodwork equipment. These types of spring plungers are made from steel, thermoplastic, technopolymer, or stainless steel.

You can use them as shock absorbers or ejectors by applying accurate and repeatable spring end forces through a ball or rounded nose, especially in sheet metalworking. Thread spring plungers have enclosed springs in threaded capsules.

Press Fit Spring Plungers

If you are installing equipment on softer materials like aluminum, plastic, or wood, then a press-fit plunger is your best bet.

Commonly described as a "simple and economical" spring-loaded device, press-fit plungers have an initial load range of 0.01-0.50. This load range, plus other factors, makes press-fit spring plungers ideal for use when a threaded hole would be impractical or when adjustment is not required.

Press fit plungers exert a heavy spring force and mostly have steel bodies. Their diameters can be anything from one-eight of an inch to half-inch.

Pull Pin Spring Plungers

As the name suggests, pull-pin spring plungers have a quick-release press-fit pull-pin body. This body is threaded into the application while the ring pokes out to the outer surface. To lock the plunger's tip into the desired position, simply release the ring.

Pull spring plungers are best for adjustable tubing, tooling, latches, fixtures, gates, and similar equipment. These mechanical devices consist of the housing barrel and plunger assembly. You can use pull-pin spring plungers to retract and engage the plunger for locating, fastening quickly, and quick change operations.

Push Pin Spring Plungers

Also called two-way spring plungers, push pin spring plungers are used to engage, position, or clamp various components

One of the exciting features of push pin spring plungers is a tapped hole in both ends. You can attach knobs, grips, prisms and other types of inserts to the plunger via the tapped hole.

You are more likely to find push pin spring plungers made from steel than any other material. They also have fixed-in hexagonal tapped pins that can be used for thrust or traction.

Indexing Plungers

An indexing plunger is a mechanical device with a retractable nose. It is used in machine and fixture applications to lock items in place, especially when indexing a range of motion or a series of positions.

Depending on your needs, you can purchase a hand-operated plunger or the spring-actuated version. You can also opt for precision indexing plungers, lock and clamp indexing plungers or an indexing plunger without a knob.

There are slight variations in how each type of indexing plunger works. For example, an indexing plunger without a knob comes with a pull ring or threaded pin, while the lock and clamp versions merge clamping functions with the primary indexing function.

The plunger's retractable nose allows you to fix and release your components without any hassles. If you want to free a component from the plunger's fixed position, you only have to pull the device's handle.


Before purchasing any type of spring plunger, you should ensure that it is suitable for your equipment. For example, buying a threaded plunger for wood or material may not be ideal.

At Reid Supply, we stock different spring plungers plus other accessories and mechanical tools, including cam levers, handwheels, and toggle clamps. Visit our website today to browse through our new products and see if anyone is the right fit for your workpiece.