Fasteners are hardware components that are essential to countless assemblies, allowing for parts to be secured together in varying ways. With a plethora of assembly demands, many different fasteners exist to perform varying roles. For example, some fasteners are designed for short-term assembly of light and simplistic objects, while others may be more permanent with the strength to assist in supporting an entire bridge. As such, it can be useful to have a general understanding of common fasteners that are available
Many fasteners across the market are known as threaded fasteners, and these hardware components will feature internal or external threading that is designed to mate with a correlating fastener or part. Bolts are one of the most common examples, coming in the form of a helically threaded shaft where a head is present on one side. To secure components together, the tail of the bolt is passed through a pre-drilled hole until it sticks out the other side, and a mating nut with internal threading is tightened on. This both holds the bolt in place while also providing a head on both sides of the assembly to keep everything together. In some instances, a washer is also added to better support the loads of fasteners.
Screws are often compared to bolts due to their similar appearance, though instead of relying on mating nuts to be secured, screws are able to bore their own threading into a surface as they are installed. Screws generally require the use of a screwdriver, drill, or other tool to be driven into a surface, and they will dig into materials and pull them in until pull-out is prevented.
The final common fastener that fits within this group is the rivet, those of which often come in the form of smooth, cylindrical shafts where a head is present on one side. Rivets are inserted into preformed holes like bolts, though instead of using any other component to be secured, they require a specialized tool that deforms the tail to create a second head. By establishing a dumbbell shape through deformation, the rivet can permanently hold parts together with very high reliability.
Beyond the option of what fastener is best for a given application, one can also choose between varying materials to meet specific needs or requirements. A majority of fasteners are made from steels like carbon steel, stainless steel, and alloy steel, this being due to the general properties of such materials that strike a balance between needs and cost. Otherwise, fasteners may also be produced from zinc, chrome, titanium, aluminum, and various other substances. Oftentimes, the choice will come down to what performance characteristics are required. For example, if corrosion is a potential threat, then a threaded fastener that has a corrosion resistant coating or plating may be the best choice. In other instances, one may simply need to ensure compatibility between the metal of the fastener and the material of the parts that are to be assembled.
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