Fasteners are an integral part of any design project, but their application is essential for the overall success and longevity of the product. When designing a project, you should always consider the suitability of the fastener you’re using.

This article will go through five key steps you need to know when choosing the right fastener for each project — every time.

Step One: Choosing the Right Materials and Application

There are many different types of fasteners to choose from, such as nuts, bolts, rivets and washers. In design projects, these must be applied correctly. When choosing the right fastener, materials and application methods, it’s important you have the knowledge to complete the installation process correctly for each industry. You should also consider:

Once you’ve decided on a base panel material, you can choose the fastener according to what the material requires. For a self-clinching solution, you must know your panel’s hardness and select a self-clinching fastener that’s appropriately harder than the available options. If you have an aluminium panel, you’ll have multiple options ー an aluminium fastener, steel, a 300 series stainless or a heat-treated stainless fastener.  

The method used when installing fasteners is also integral to your design project's overall success, as fasteners have unique application requirements. For example, a self-clinching fastener should be installed with a squeezing action using a parallel acting press. Quick impact installation doesn’t allow sufficient time for sheet material to cold flow.

Would you like to learn more about fastener selection and installation? Our free Catalogue Training with Applications class provides expert guidance for effective fastener selection. Register for your place below.

Step Two: Meeting Load Requirements

Every design project will have specific load requirements for fastener applications. Knowing how heavy or lightweight the sheet metal is can help you understand what fastener type is required. Using the correct fasteners that meet load requirements can increase drilling efficiency, project durability and installation safety. A key consideration for meeting load requirements is selecting the appropriate thread size for threaded fasteners. 

For self-clinching fasteners, the panel must be a ductile material softer than the fastener going into it. The panel must meet the minimum sheet thickness required by the particular fastener. Some self-clinching fasteners can be installed into sheets as thin as .020″ / 0.51 mm, but generally, .030″ / 0.76 mm or .040″ / 1mm is the minimum sheet thickness necessary.

For full specifications of maximum sheet hardness for fastener materials, check out our stainless steel panels page.

Step Three: Balancing Resistance and Strength

When installing fasteners to any component, you should know its tensile strength and tightening requirements, especially when applying resistance and force to sheet metal. If your application requires the fastener to clinch into stainless steel, be sure you use the fasteners specifically designed for this purpose and have the correct strength and resistance capability.

Fasteners such as self-clinching nuts and screws can encounter thread binding issues when made from materials such as stainless steel. This problem is typically related to galling 一 the seizing or abrading of threads caused by the adhesion. 

Softer metals such as aluminium and austenitic stainless steel are dangerous to thread galling or stripping when put under too much pressure. During the tightening of the fastener, pressure can build between contacting thread surfaces, which increases friction as high metal points of the threads meet. These two events can generate enough heat to fuse, seize the nut and bolt together.

Step Four: Maintaining Temperature

Temperature is often overlooked in fastener considerations, but prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures can determine the longevity and durability of a fastener application.  Different materials will expand and contract at different rates and temperature can affect this fluctuation. For self-clinching fasteners, this can possibly cause the clinch to loosen.

Step Five: Selecting a Trusted Fastener Manufacturer

Another important factor when choosing the proper fastener type is the manufacturer. When selecting a supplier to meet your needs, you should consider the brand reputation and what unique fastening solutions they offer. PEM® have been providing industry-leading solutions in the fastener industry for more than 80 years and continue to expand globally with self-clinching fastener innovation.  

Our solutions can be applied to all projects for fast and effective installation. We’ve created a handy guide to help you choose the proper fastener to ensure success in your design. 

Download your free copy below to learn more.

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