Industrial Fasteners (Industrial Report) - UK - April 2013
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Industrial fasteners include a wide variety of mechanical fastening devices ranging from mass produced simple items, with little opportunity for product differentiation, to complex and ad-hoc products designed for specialist applications. The most common form of product segmentation identifies:
- threaded fasteners
- non-threaded fasteners
The major types of threaded fasteners are:
Bolts are usually used in conjunction with nuts. A variety of materials are used for their production, depending on the required tensile strength of each application. Standard bolts are made of iron or steel, with brass and copper bolts being widely used in electrical assemblies. Aluminium bolts are frequently, but not exclusively, used in the aerospace sector, and those made of nickel are used where high temperature tolerances are required.
Standard nuts utilise hexagonal heads, although square headed nuts are commonly used for woodworking applications. Different shape variations are also used to ensure satisfactory locking of bolts. In safety-critical applications and where frequent vibration occurs, self locking nuts are most commonly used. Applications for self locking nuts have increased strongly over the past few years and a wide range of such mechanisms are now available.
Screws differ from bolts in that they have the capability to be used in a threaded hole without a nut.
The most commonly identified non-threaded fasteners are:
Nails and tacks are some of the simplest mass produced fasteners, with little opportunity for product differentiation. Even so, a wide variety of materials are used in their production; dependent on the required tensile strength and corrosive resistance of the finished item. Studs and staples also tend to have similar characteristics to one another.
Rivets are one of the oldest forms of fastener, and like most fasteners they can be manufactured using a wide variety of materials, dependent on the application for which the product is required.
Washers are also classified as non-threaded fasteners, although strictly they are not fasteners, but components within a fastening system.
It is apparent that increased levels of automation in the end user industries, in particular the automotive sector, have fundamentally changed the requirements of fasteners in recent years. In the past the emphasis of production centred around time, handling and effort, but now the key characteristics are repeatability and tight performance tolerance.
The increased life expectancy of many end use products, such as the two sided galvanization of automotive bodies, better finishes, increased use of plastics, and new designs in engines and transmissions have demanded that fasteners be adapted to greater longevity. This has resulted in old practices, such as electroplating and phosphate and oil finishing, being replaced by sophisticated organic coatings. In turn, this has led to adjustments in tightening strategies and torque/tension testing.
Organic coatings include dry paint films or the subsequent oil treatment of products. Pigmented oil films have proved both versatile and capable of self-healing. Zinc rich coatings on the other hand have proved useful where a sacrificial layer is required for use against other metals, i.e. aluminium or magnesium to protect against galvanic corrosion.
All values quoted in this report are at constant prices unless otherwise specified.
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