Rivets: A Versatile and Important Fastening Method(sheetmetal bending Harlan)

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Rivets are a simple yet extremely useful type of mechanical fastener used to join together multiple pieces of material. Though deceptively plain in appearance, rivets play an indispensable role in many industries and applications. In this article, we will explore what exactly rivets are, what they are made of, how they work, and some of their most common and creative uses.
What Are Rivets?
A rivet is a short cylindrical shaft with a head on one end. The rivet is inserted through holes drilled or punched into the materials being joined, and the empty end is then mechanically deformed and flattened into another head. The force exerted flares the rivet shank, clamping the materials together between the two heads. This creates a solid, permanent assembly.
Rivets are available in three main types: solid, semi-tubular, and blind. Solid rivets are the most traditional style, with a solid shank. Semi-tubular rivets have a partial hole bored through the center of the shaft, reducing weight. Blind rivets can be inserted and mechanically headed from only one side of the joint.
Rivet Materials
Originally, rivets were handcrafted from malleable metals like copper, iron, and silver. Today, while these metals are still used, aluminum alloys and titanium are more common for aircraft and other high-performance applications. Stainless steel provides good corrosion resistance. Monel and nickel alloys add strength at high temperatures. For less demanding needs, rivets may be made from brass, steel, or polymers like nylon.
How Rivets Work
Rivets join materials through both direct bearing and friction. The rivet shank directly bears on the hole walls, while the deformed heads pinch the materials together. This clamping force creates friction which resists sliding, rotation, and separation.
Proper rivet length and hole size are critical for creating a lasting joint. If the holes are too large or the rivet too short, clamping force will be insufficient. However, rivets that are too long or holes that are too tight can crack the materials. Manufacturers provide specifications to ensure optimal fastening.
Uses of Rivets
Thanks to their simple yet adaptable nature, rivets serve countless purposes across many fields. Some of the most common applications include:
Aircraft Construction
Rivets are extensively used in aircraft assembly. Aluminum and titanium rivets securely fasten wings, fuselages, bulkheads, and control surfaces on both civilian and military planes. Riveting provides smooth aerodynamic surfaces.
Bridge Building
Steel rivets help connect gusset plates, braces, and structural beams on bridges. Riveting distributes stresses efficiently across connections. The Golden Gate Bridge alone used over 1.2 million steel rivets during its construction.
Denim Jeans
Copper rivets reinforce points of strain on denim pants like pocket corners. This innovation by Levi Strauss & Co in the 1870s made their jeans substantially more durable.
Metal Building Construction
Self-drilling and self-piercing rivets quickly join roofing panels, wall and roof girts, and other framing elements on prefabricated metal buildings. Riveting them together onsite enables quick assembly.
Lead, copper, or plastic rivets seal joints in plumbing pipes while allowing some flexibility. This prevents leaks from vibrations and shifts.
Electronic Device Manufacturing
Miniaturized specialty rivets assemble cellphones, computers, cameras, and other electronics. Automated riveting stations efficiently mass produce these tiny but essential fasteners.
Ship and Boat Building
Marine-grade rivets withstand corrosion from saltwater. They fasten steel hull plates and frames on ships and fiberglass/aluminum components on boats. Large flange-head rivets counteract hull stresses.
Railroad Track Construction
Early railroad tracks consisted of strap iron rails spiked to wooden crossties. Eventually, steel rivets provided a stronger fastening method less prone to loosening under train vibrations.
Rich Artistic Tradition
Decorative rivets have adorned armour, weapons, jewelry, furniture, and religious objects since medieval times. Gold and silver rivets embellished breastplates, shields, scabbards, belts, and helmets.
Though often overlooked, rivets quietly enable our modern world. Their flexibility, strength, and durability make rivets the fastener of choice across countless critical applications. Whether crudely hand-hammered by ancient smiths or precisely machine-tooled today, rivets continue to bind the structures and objects we depend on. Their subtle importance merits appreciation. CNC Milling