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The Difference Between Ball and Spring Plungers

Ball plungers and spring plungers are spring-loaded devices that use some degree of force to fix workpieces in place. Although they both use pressure pins or spring-loaded balls to index, clamp, or lock components in a particular position, these tools serve different functions.

This article will highlight fundamental differences between these types of spring-loaded devices, including how they work and the materials they are made from. Understanding these differences would help you choose the best spring-loaded tool for your tasks at every point.


In this article we will take a closer look at:

1. What are Ball Plungers?
2. What are Spring Plungers?
    > What are the Three Pieces of a Spring Plungers?
3. Spring Plunger vs. Ball Plunger
4. Summary

What Are Ball Plungers?

Ball plungers are spring-loaded devices used to set workpieces in place. As an industrial engineer or similar, you’ve probably come across this device before and noticed its unique design.

Ball plungers are known for having a steel ball and spring held within a threaded body that looks like what you’d find on a bolt or screw. They also have a slotted drive which you use to install or remove the tool from workpieces.

So how does a ball spring plunger work? When you apply some pressure to the top or side of the ball, it sinks and compresses the spring. This movement causes the ball to roll into another position while fixing your workpiece in place. Metric-threaded ball plungers work well for drawers, cabinets, doors, and other wooden workpieces.

What are Spring Plungers?

A spring plunger is a budget-friendly spring-loaded device used to index and fix different manufacturing and construction components into a particular position, just like ball plungers. Ball plungers can be made from stainless steel, steel, brass, or nylon, and you might notice some other exterior coating for extra protection.

When you think of a spring plunger, the first thing that should come to mind is this tool uses a “spring force” to keep the ball or nose in place and fix the workpieces at all times. This end force is so powerful that the ball remains in the same position no matter what it encounters. You can also use spring plungers as support or cushion between two objects, fixturing them in place.

Compared to regular, non-loaded springs, spring plungers are typically easier to install. Their sizes range from 7/20 inches to 1¾ inch, and you can fix them using different methods like the hex socket, the slotted driveway, and a high slot for blind holes. Spring plungers also give you more control over your workpieces and allow you to get through work faster.

What Are the Three Pieces of a Spring Plunger?

While there are a couple of variations, most spring loaders have three essential components: the plunger, inner compression spring, and threaded body. The spring is fixed inside the threaded body. The hand-retractable plunger rests on the very tip/end of the tool and controls the amount of force you apply at every point in time.

Spring plungers are also used to eject components from a groove. To do this, place the device at the end of the groove and apply the right amount of pressure to force the piece out. 

Spring Plungers

> Spring plungers can have a ball or a narrow pin, depending on the type.

> Spring plungers can withstand heavy-duty equipment.

> This tool has some sort of coiled spring within its body.

> Most spring plungers have an extra coating to prevent corrosion.

> They are primarily used with pumps, valves, and other manufacturing and construction components.

> The essential components of a spring plunger are the plunger, inner compression spring, and threaded body.

Ball Plungers

> Ball plungers have a ball tip instead of a nose.

> Ball plungers do not perform well with a heavy load compared to their spring counterparts.

> Ball plungers have a threaded body with various thread sizes.

> No additional coating on ball plungers.

> They are often used in drawers, cabinets, doors, and different wooden workpieces.

> The essential components of a ball plunger are the ball, spring, threaded body, and slotted drive.


In some ways, a stainless steel ball plunger can pass as a type of spring plunger. However, the key difference is while ball plungers have a ball at the top, spring plungers have a narrow pin or nose, depending on the type. Although, both devices do have springs fixed within threaded bodies.

Now that you know the differences between these spring-loaded tools, it’s time to make a purchase. At Reid Supply, you can find many types of ball plungers and spring plungers that are uniquely suited for your needs. We also have a rich catalog of adjustable handles, handwheels, toggle clamps, screwdrivers, washers, and other new products.

Please go through our website to find a device that works for you today!