In the fast-paced world of design engineering, making the right choices for self clinching fasteners is paramount. With many options available and technology continually advancing, design engineers face the challenge of staying up to date with the latest innovations. 

As the PEM® catalogue of self clinching fasteners is constantly expanding and evolving to meet the needs of design engineers in all industries, engineers must grasp the fundamentals of self clinching theory and stay informed about the latest developments so they can continue to innovate. 

In this blog, we explore the key factors design engineers should consider when selecting the appropriate self clinching fastener for the job to ensure success and product longevity. 

1. Materials

Material Compatibility

One of the primary considerations when selecting self clinching fasteners is the compatibility between the fastener and the materials being joined. Different materials have varying properties, such as hardness, ductility and thickness, which can impact the fastener's performance. Choosing a fastener compatible with the specific material(s) in the joint is crucial.

For example, when working with an aluminium panel, you have several fastening options to choose from, including an aluminium fastener, a steel fastener, a fastener made from a 300 series stainless steel or a heat-treated stainless steel fastener.

Corrosion Resistance

In applications exposed to harsh environments or where dissimilar materials have been joined, corrosion resistance becomes critical. Selecting a self clinching fastener with suitable corrosion-resistant coatings or materials can prevent premature corrosion failure, ensuring the joint's longevity.

2. Applications

Load Case

Understanding the load requirements of the joint is essential for selecting the appropriate self clinching fastener. Factors such as the load's magnitude, the force's direction and the load's expected dynamic or static nature should be considered. This information helps determine the necessary strength and size of the fastener to ensure optimal performance under varying conditions.

Static loads refer to the constant forces acting on the joint without significant variation over time. Design engineers should consider the magnitude and direction of the static load to choose a fastener with the required strength and load-bearing capacity.

The joint may be subjected to dynamic loads involving varying forces or vibrations in certain applications. Dynamic loads can lead to fatigue failure if the fastener can’t withstand the cyclic stresses. Selecting a self clinching fastener that can endure the anticipated dynamic load conditions is important to prevent failure in the end product.

Strength Requirements of the Joint

The strength requirements of the joint directly influence the options of self clinching fastener available to you. Factors such as the anticipated load, shear strength and tension strength should be carefully considered. By analysing the expected forces and stresses within the joint, design engineers can select a fastener that can provide the necessary strength and structural integrity.

Temperature in Installation and Use

Temperature plays a critical role in the performance and reliability of self clinching fasteners. Extreme temperatures can affect the mechanical properties of the fastener material, potentially leading to joint failure. 

Design engineers should determine the temperature range during both installation and operation to select a fastener that can withstand thermal stresses and maintain its integrity.

3. Installation

Consideration should also be given to the practical aspects of installing self clinching fasteners. Accessibility to both sides of the part is crucial to ensure proper installation. 

Thankfully, where access to both sides is limited, there are alternative fastening solutions available, such as blind-threaded rivets and threaded inserts. 

Additionally, when considering a self clinching fastening solution, the ease and efficiency of installation should be evaluated to minimize assembly time and costs.

4. Product Weight

The weight of the product or assembly is another key factor to consider. In certain industries, like consumer electronics, manufacturers are concerned with making lightweight products that are comfortable to wear or carry. 

In this context, the use of self clinching fasteners becomes important. These fasteners offer strength and structural integrity while enabling a lightweight design. They offer the strength of welded joints without the associated drawbacks while also enabling reversibility, reducing z-height and simplifying installation.

5. Aesthetic Considerations

In certain applications, the appearance of the joint is a significant factor when selecting the right self clinching fastener. The “look” of the fastener itself, the finish it offers (i.e. whether or not it’ll sit flush with the material it’s being installed into), and the need to match the overall design can all be considerations contributing to design decisions. 

Selecting self clinching fasteners that meet the aesthetic requirements of the application ensures a visually appealing end product, which is vital for consumer electronics, automotive electronics and items produced for commercial purposes.

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