Metal Fasteners 101 – What You Should Know Before You Invest
Metal fasteners are an integral part of manufacturing, construction, and even simple day-to-day applications from simple staples to heavy-duty attachments used in aerospace manufacturing. Metal fasteners are usually separated into two distinct groups – those that produce a permanent bond and those requiring either a releasable or a sliding bond.
Examples of metal fasteners that create a permanent bond are screws, rivets, clamps, retaining rings or bolts. Non-permanent fasteners are items like quick-release couplers and pins that allow the movement of fastened parts.
Since 1980, The Federal Group USA has been a leader in metal fabrication including the production of custom metal fasteners. We work with a wide selection of high-quality materials to create various types of fasteners to meet your exact requirements.
Our experienced engineers are happy to help you determine the specifications you need and provide advice on material, design, and function as needed.
What Are Metal Fasteners?
Metal fasteners are used to join multiple components, whether they’re made from sheet metal, plastics or some other material. They are available in a wide range of standard shapes, sizes, materials, and purposes, and can also be produced custom for specific needs.
Uses For Metal Fasteners
The primary benefit of metal fasteners is that they are able to bear significant loads before reaching a breaking point. Metal fasteners can typically be classified in one of two ways:
- Light-Duty metal fasteners are used in standard commercial applications and even in some medical items, for example pet buckles, hip pins, tactical products, tent applications, bags, and straps to name a few.
- Heavy-Duty fasteners are standard in manufacturing or hefty applications, like vehicle and aircraft cargo tie-downs. Some of these metal fasteners can sustain loads of 750 pounds and more before hitting a breaking point.
Types of Metal Fasteners
In addition to the light-duty and heavy-duty classifications, metal fasteners will also fall into two distinct categories: threaded and non-threaded fasteners.
The most common types of threaded metal fasteners are screws and bolts. These common fasteners have pre-cut threads in the shaft to allow the component to grip any material securely. It can also unscrew to detach from the object.
Screws and bolts for sheet metal often have threads along the entire shaft, while wood fasteners only have threads halfway up the shaft.
While both types of threaded fasteners have similar looks and characteristics, there are a few key differences. Typically, screws are used to join threaded objects, while bolts are used to assemble unthreaded objects.
Non-threaded metal fasteners do not require a thread to catch onto materials, but instead are driven into materials to create a connection. You can drive these fasteners into a material with a hammer strike, insert them into a snug, pre-made hole, or use a device to join the fastener to two or more materials.
Popular non-threaded metal fasteners include rivets, pins, corrugated fasteners, and specialty products.
As a permanent metal fastener, you install rivets by cutting a hole into an object that slightly exceeds the diameter. You then hammer the components into place or use a specialized tool to complete the installation.
These fittings have a smooth texture and often serve as an alternative to welding.
Corrugated Metal Fasteners
These fasteners consist of metal strips connected in a wavy pattern (with one sharp side and one smooth side). When you impale the pointed end into a wood piece, you can join multiple wood beams together. For example, corrugated fasteners are ideal for rough framing projects.
Specialty Metal Fasteners
Specialty metal fasteners include items like snap fasteners, high-strength fasteners for industrial applications, or even items like zippers and metal snaps that can be used to join fabrics and leather together.
Other examples of everyday non-threaded fasteners include:
- Retaining rings
Fabrication Methods for Metal Fasteners
When producing custom metal fasteners, there are a number of different metal fabrication processes that can be used. The best option will be dependent on the necessary application and the tooling requirements.
Image above: Blade bolts manufactured by cold forging and finished by CNC machining.
One way The Federal Group USA manufactures custom metal fasteners is through CNC machining. During this process, a bar of raw material is cut to size using computerized machines equipped with various cutting tools.
CNC machining allows for superior precision and accuracy because the equipment remakes the same component multiple times without affecting its dimensions or quality. The process has a quick turnaround, unlike traditional machining methods.
CNC makes fast adjustments to production by changing the computer code. The machines can also function continuously for an extended period.
Image above: Wheel studs manufactured via the cold heading process.
Another fabrication method is cold heading, the manufacturing process of forming metal parts at room temperature. With cold heading, metal wiring goes into a drawing machine that compresses it into a specific diameter. When it passes into a cold heading machine, the blank is repeatedly struck between a punch block and die at high speed, creating the desired shape.
Cold heading fabrication for metal fasteners comes with several benefits:
- Quick production
- Stronger fasteners, due to the reduced stress on the structure of the metal
- Minimal material waste because the initial metal piece cuts to the same volume as the completed fastener
- Reduced production costs
- Versatility to produce many types of fasteners
Types of Metals for Fastener Fabrication
Fabricators use several metals and alloys to create different types of fasteners. The metal type plays a significant role in the fastener’s strength and resistance to heat and corrosion.
Self-clenching components like clamps, screws, pins, and bolts must consist of an appropriate metal. If not, the material can affect the quality and duration of the connections you need.
When choosing a metal for your fasteners, consider:
- Whether it will encounter corrosive materials
- Physical stress requirements
- Structural stability requirements
Common materials for metal fasteners include:
- Steel wire
- Stainless steel
- Steel alloys
Choose The Federal Group USA for Your Custom Metal Fastener Needs
The Federal Group USA has been a leading manufacturer of custom metal fasteners since 1980. We strive to fulfill our clients’ needs and exceed their expectations. Our team prides itself on engineering expertise, exceptionally high manufacturing standards, and perfected metal fabrication techniques on every job.
We will walk you through every step of the process and make recommendations for your project on standard or custom metal fasteners. Whether you need steel screws or brass rivets, our team can fabricate fasteners to meet your specific requirements.
Contact us today to discuss your needs.