# When a mass of 350g is hung on a spiral spring which was designed for a maximum load of 200g, what happens?

mathsworkmusic | Certified Educator

The spring is designed to take a maximum weight of 200g. At this threshold, the spring reaches its elastic limit when the weight is attached to it and allowed to drop down towards the ground.

The extension (e) in meters (m) of a spring is related to the force (F) in Newtons (N) applied to it and its spring constant (k) in Newtons per meter (N/m) by Hooke's Law

`F = k times e `

Assuming a gravitational constant of 9.81m/s^2 (that on Earth), the maximum force that can be applied to the spring in question is

`F_max = 0.2 kg times 9.81 "m/" s^2 = 1.962 kg "m/" s^2 = 1.962N`` `

When the maximum force the spring can withhold is exceeded, the spring constant of the spring will no longer be the same. The spring is no longer in equilibrium and loses its properties of retraction and elasticity. The tension in the matter that makes up the spring is weakened, some bonds of the matter (perhaps metal or plastic) being stretched beyond a critical threshold.

Being overloaded, the spring might lose its elasticity by bending in one or more of its coils, perhaps so much so that the spring snaps. The spring would not spring back up in the direction of its original starting position before the 350g excessive weight was added, as it would with a weight less than 200g, unless the ground which the weight would drag the spring down towards were also springy.

From the point of view of the 350g weight that is added to the spring, the spring would slow the weight's progress to the ground, counteracting the acceleration due to gravity. Depending on the height of the (originally contracted) spring from the ground, the weight might drop to the ground still attached to the spring, or might drop to the ground severed from part or all of the spring, or might dangle above the ground on the spring as a result of its warping of the spring.