Rivets: Their Many Uses and Applications(spring flat Burnell)

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Rivets are one of the most versatile and commonly used fasteners in manufacturing and construction. A rivet is a mechanical fastener that consists of two main parts - a cylindrical shaft and a head. The shaft is inserted into holes drilled or punched into the materials being joined. The head rests on one side of the material while the other end is hammered, pressed or upset to form another head. This process mechanically joins the materials together using the deformed shaft.
Rivets have been used since ancient times to assemble objects from metal, wood, stone and other materials. Today, rivets continue to be ubiquitous and have thousands of uses and applications across countless industries including aerospace, automotive, electronics, infrastructure, shipbuilding and beyond. Let's explore some of the main ways rivets are used.
Aircraft and Aerospace
The aerospace industry is one of the biggest users of rivets today. Thousands of rivets are used to assemble the shell and wings of airplanes and satellites. Rivets in aircraft are made from lightweight and strong metals like aluminum, steel, titanium and specialty alloys. The durability and reliability of rivets are critical for sustaining the immense stresses that airplanes undergo during flight. Aerospace rivets not only hold the airplane together, but also allow for necessary flexibility and vibration dampening.
Some common uses of rivets in aircraft include:
- Joining the aluminum/titanium sheets that form the aircraft skin and fusealge. Rivets create smooth, reliable bonds that can handle dramatic air pressure changes and forces during flight.
- Assembling the frames, ribs and stringers that give aircraft wings their shape and structural integrity. Tens of thousands of rivets may be used on large wings.
- Permanently fastening control surfaces like flaps and ailerons to wings and hinges.
- Connecting access panels, doors, windows and other non-structural parts. This allows for routine maintenance and repairs.
- Joining engine casings, landing gear wheels and many other airplane components.
The reliability and extensive testing done on aircraft rivets means they are trusted for critical uses in satellites, rockets and space stations too.
Rivets retain an important assembly role in modern automobile manufacturing. While welding is now used for major chassis and unibody structures, rivets offer benefits in certain applications:
- Rivets assemble sheet metal exterior body panels like doors, hoods and roofs where welding could cause warping. This allows smooth flat surfaces to be achieved.
- Plastic interiors with consoles, trim panels and headliners are often secured with specialty plastic rivets. This is faster than other joining methods.
- Rivets attach accessories, lights, mirrors, running boards and more to vehicle bodies. Rivets allow for easy removal if repairs are needed.
- Exhaust systems, mufflers, pipes and catalytic converters rely on combinations of rivets, brackets and hangers to securely suspend them underneath cars and trucks.
- Rivets assemble essential mechanical parts like brake assemblies, fuel tanks, control arms and drive shafts when complete welds or other permanent fasteners are impractical.
Even with increased adhesive bonding in cars, the versatility and security of riveting ensures it is still widely applied during vehicle builds.
Rail and Mass Transit
From passenger trains to subways, trolleys and monorails, rivets have long been vital to modern rail transportation. Some examples include:
- Riveting railroad tracks to sturdy steel ties that are secured on the gravel or concrete base. This provides a smooth and stable platform for trains.
- Assembling bogies or wheel/axle assemblies that allow train cars to make turns and ride on tracks.
- Joining the steel sheets and structural frames used in rail car and subway car bodies. Rivets allow for modular construction.
- Connecting floors, panels, seats, handrails and other rail car interior components. Rivets permit removal for maintenance and reconfiguration.
- Building station platforms, canopies and additional infrastructure using rivets in beams and joints.
- Use in rail bridges, crossing arms, signal gantries and other fixtures near tracks.
Given their vibration resistance, high shear strength and reliable service life, it comes as no surprise rivets are integral to trains and rail systems carrying millions of passengers daily.
Construction and Infrastructure
The connections made by rivets are vital in building projects of all types and sizes. Common construction uses include:
- Joining steel I-beams and girders in bridges, buildings, cranes, towers and more. Rivets distribute loads effectively in high stress areas.
- Assembling prefabricated steel roof trusses before lifting them into place on warehouses, arenas and commercial buildings.
- Putting up steel scaffolding and shoring during concrete work. This is often followed by riveting rebar before pouring.
- Connecting pipes for plumbing, fire suppression systems, industrial plants and utilities. Riveted pipe joints can safely handle high water pressures.
- Creating transmission towers and telecommunication antenna arrays from long steel members.
- Anchoring support posts, lighting, fences, platforms and more on infrastructure projects.
- Temporary connections during building construction that are later made permanent with welding or bolting.
Rivets make the skilled ironwork seen on iconic bridges, landmarks and skyscrapers possible. They continue enabling sturdy yet economical construction around the world.
Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering
Modern ship hulls predominantly use welds, but rivets still play a role in shipbuilding. Reasons rivets persist in vessels include:
- Riveting very thick steel plates, which may be difficult to weld properly. This is seen on hulls of large ships.
- Joining different metals like aluminum and stainless steel that are not weld compatible.
- Assembling parts subject to high loads or vibration like rudders, propeller shafts and mast/rigging connections.
- Allowing for maintenance access like on hatch covers, bilge pumps and sea valves. These can be drilled out if needed.
- Quick repairs and reinforcements during drydocking. Riveting is simple and the tools portable.
- On historic ships, preservation rules may mandate using traditional riveting methods during renovations.
On combat vessels, watertight integrity and blast resistance also make rivets advantageous for compartmentalizing by bulkheads. While hidden by interiors, rivets remain integral on many commercial and military ships.
Industrial Machinery
The production of industrial machinery, equipment and tooling relies extensively on rivets to assemble:
- Metal housings, enclosures, frames and bases
- Gears, pulleys, sprockets, rollers and other moving parts
- Driveshafts, spindles, linear motion components
- Structural elements like robot arms and CNC gantry supports
- Guards, shields and covers to protect hazardous areas
- Parts needing adjustment like guides, stops and tool holders
- Components exposed to vibration like fans, pumps and motor mounts
Rivets offer many benefits for machinery:
- They firmly join sheet metal and structural parts while allowing some flexing. This reduces stress cracking.
- Riveted joints easily accommodate alignment adjustments during assembly and installation.
- Riveting is reliable for oil-tight sealing of gearboxes, hydraulics and other wet systems.
- Rivets are preferable for equipment intended for rugged shop use and fieldwork.
- Riveted components are repairable if damaged. The fasteners can be drilled out and replaced.
Modern production and process engineering would not be possible without the strong, precise and lasting connections provided by versatile rivets.
Miniaturized rivets precisely assemble many modern electronic products we use daily including:
- Laptops, tablets, phones and other personal computing devices
- Home appliances like microwaves, TVs and smart speakers
- Portable electronics like headphones and fitness trackers
- Multifunction printers, copiers and scanners
- Servers, networking gear and telecom equipment
- Automotive control modules and infotainment panels
- Medical devices, imaging systems and analytic equipment
- ATMs, point of sale systems, security devices
- Vending machines, arcade and entertainment systems
Advantages of miniaturized electronics rivets are:
- The riveting process is highly automatable for mass production.
- Rivets provide solid mechanical bonds between layers and components.
- They allow electronics to be disassembled for recycling and materials recovery.
- Rivets permit electrical conductivity between joined parts like module housings and heat sinks.
- Minimal space is needed on dense circuit boards and assemblies.
- Plastics and dissimilar metals used in cases/frames can be securely joined.
Continued electronics innovation relies on tiny but mighty rivets anchoring internal components safely and precisely together.
As this overview illustrates, humble rivets are an amazingly adaptable and reliable fastening technology used in manufacturing and constructions across just about every field imaginable. From aircraft to tablets, rivets will undoubtedly maintain their indispensable status for decades to come thanks to their versatility, strength and ease of use. When broken down to basics, rivets simply comprise a shaft and head that securely sandwich materials together - yet this simple concept has enabled rivets to have thousand of diverse uses that fasten our world together. CNC Milling CNC Machining