How to Pick the Right Fastener for your Needs

Posted on April 12, 2021 James Williams How to Pick the Right Fastener for your Needs

Fasteners are hardware components that serve countless industries, allowing for two or more parts to be securely joined together. From the bolts used to assemble aircraft skin sections to screws that attach piping to walls, there are numerous fastener types that each present their varying characteristics and attachment methods which may benefit different applications. To help you choose the right fasteners for your application, we will discuss some of the common considerations that should be made before making a final decision.

One of the first steps that one should always take when choosing a fastener is to determine the application. Some applications may require vibration resistance or the ability to withstand corrosion, thus it is important to be familiar with your needs and requirements. It can be highly beneficial to familiarize yourself with various standards that fasteners fall under, as standards may dictate whether particular bolts, nuts, or screws are capable of withstanding certain pressures, temperature, stresses, etc.
While various fastener types may be compatible with your needs, there may be numerous shapes and sizes for a fastener type that can also affect its ability to serve an application. With bolts and screws for example, such fasteners will often have various shaped heads that permit the use of different tools for their installation. The shape of the head can affect the amount of torque one may apply as well. For the shafts of such components, one should note the length and threading. Length is important for inserting the component in an assembly as well as can affect the ability to add nuts, washers, or studs. Threading on the other hand may affect assembly time, engagement, and load bearing characteristics, thus it can be important to consider in order to ensure a secure installation.
Just as the shape and size of a fastener will affect its performance, the material used for constructing the fastener may have a large effect on its characteristics as well. Many fasteners are constructed with carbon steel as its strength properties and load carrying capacities make it capable of excelling in a wide range of applications for the construction of valves, bolts, studs, and other components. Stainless steel is also popular for fastener construction, and certain grades are beneficial for water treatment plants, food storage areas, and other applications where there may be a presence of moisture or corrosive substances.
While various steel types may be the most popular for a wide range of applications, many fasteners may also be manufactured with the use of brass, bronze, and aluminum. Brass and bronze in particular are heavily used in offshore applications due to their corrosion resistance as well as general appearance for aesthetic reasons. With aluminum, the greatest benefit is found in its high strength-to-weight ratio, that of which makes the material useful for the construction of aircraft.
Whenever an assembly is made with fasteners, it is useful to be aware of the risks associated with dissimilar metals. Depending upon the assembly and materials present, there is a possibility that issues such as galvanic corrosion may occur. While compatibility can fully prevent such situations, one may also use protective materials, insulation, or other methods to separate and protect dissimilar metals. Beyond galvanic corrosion, fasteners of all types may generally face corrosion based on the environment they are placed in. As such, coatings may be used to protect fasteners, and zinc is the most popular solution due to its corrosion resistance and cost-efficiency.

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