Friday, January 30, 2009

Will These Screws Hold?

When you’re designing equipment, the screws are the least of your problems, right?

Hi, Diane here, and I would have thought that until I read an article in the January issue of Assembly. Their story of screws working loose due to temperature swings in transit made me realize, you can’t take these simple fasteners for granted.

An engineer can pay close attention to torque specifications and still have screws fail. Other factors that affect loosening include internal and external threads, length, coatings, spacing of fasteners, environment, equipment vibration and more. Thread lockers like Loctite® aren’t always the answer, because they add time and cost to the assembly process, and can typically only be used once.

And it’s crazy to think you can use stress testing in every case—most businesses will do it only for safety-critical applications. So how can you avoid the scenario depicted in the Assembly story, having your piece of equipment delivered in pieces?

The article had a great recommendation, and I second it: Talk to your supplier. Rely on the experience of people whose business is fasteners. Our Technical Sales staff takes calls all the time from engineers who are not sure which fastener will function without failing in a particular application. (For a sampling of the metric fasteners we offer, visit our Metric Fasteners section.) If we don’t stock the right item, we can obtain it.

Because no want wants a screw loose. (Okay, you know I had to say that.)

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