Introduction to Rivets and Their Uses(anodized aluminum colors Jesse)

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Rivets are a popular type of mechanical fastener used to join and assemble materials. A rivet consists of a cylindrical shaft and head on one end. The end opposite the head is called the bucktail. To install rivets, the parts to be joined are clamped together and holes are drilled through the materials where the rivets will be placed. The rivet is inserted into the hole and the bucktail is upset, or deformed, with a hammer or rivet gun. This upsetting process forms a second head and clamps the materials together.
Rivets have been used since ancient times to construct buildings, ships, bridges, and numerous other structures and products. Today, rivets continue to be ubiquitous in manufacturing and construction. They are valued for being inexpensive, reusable, and reliable when properly installed.
Common Uses for Rivets
Aircraft and Aerospace Applications
The aerospace industry was an early adopter of rivet technology. Rivets are well-suited for aircraft assembly because of their light weight and ability to withstand vibration and fluctuating stresses. Almost all aircraft are primarily assembled with rivets, including small planes, jets, helicopters, rockets, and space stations. Rivets securely fasten the frame and skin of the aircraft. They are also extensively used in engine casings, wings, fuselage, and flight control surfaces.
Bridge Construction
Rivets are a tried and true method of joining girders and parts during bridge construction. They withstand the tension, compression, and shifting loads that bridges undergo. Steel rivets are commonly used to connect steel bridge members. The rivets fill gaps between plates and girders, distributing weight and forces evenly throughout the bridge. Riveting produces permanent, stiff connections between bridge components.
Shipbuilding
Ship hulls and other marine equipment contain thousands of rivets. They are the preferred fastener because of their strength and corrosion resistance in ocean environments. The extensive vibration, flexing, and forces exerted on ships make rivets well-suited for the job. They are installed throughout the exterior and interior of ships to hold steel members together. Rivets create durable, watertight connections that withstand the test of time and heavy use.
Railroads
Rivets facilitate the construction of railroad tracks and railcars. They are used to assemble railroad ties, plates, chairs, turnouts and turntables. Rivets provide the strong, reliable connections needed to handle the loads and vibration experienced by rail lines and rolling stock. Most modern railroad vehicles, including locomotives and subway cars, use rivets in their car body shells.
Building and Construction
The connections made by rivets are advantageous in many building projects. Rivets are used to join structural steel I-beams, channels and zed-sections when constructing buildings, bridges and towers. Riveting assembles prefabricated steel frames used in construction. Rivets also fasten rebar used to reinforce concrete for added strength. Sheet metal ductwork, gutters, roofing, and siding commonly utilize rivets as well.
Automotive Industry
Cars, trucks and other vehicles rely extensively on rivets in their frames and bodies. Thousands of rivets hold together the steel stampings that form automotive chassis and body panels. They create solid, long-lasting pressure joints able to withstand the road vibrations and impact a vehicle endures. Rivets are also used in drivetrain components, brake assemblies, wheels, and exhaust systems.
Appliances
Manufacturers of appliances like refrigerators, washers, dryers and stoves use rivets to assemble the sheet metal that forms the exterior housing. Rivets also fasten internal parts, brackets and handles. Their ability to quickly and economically join sheet metal makes rivets ideally suited for mass production of home and commercial appliances.
Electronics
Rivets play a key role in the manufacture of computers, tablets, cellphones and other electronics. They integrate outer metallic casings as well as internal components and circuit boards. The reliability and conductivity of rivets is advantageous in electronics assembly. Consumer products, medical devices, instrumentation and communications equipment all employ rivets.
Plumbing Applications
The plumbing industry relies on rivets to assemble pipes, valves, fittings, sinks and other components. Rivets provide leak-proof joints that hold up under pressure. Copper rivets join copper tubing, while stainless steel rivets fasten stainless pipe sections together. Rivets also affix brackets, hangers and other hardware used for running plumbing and HVAC systems.
Type of Rivets and Materials Used
There are many varieties of rivets tailored to different applications. Some of the most common types of rivets include:
- Solid rivets - Made of a single material and are the most common type used. Steel and aluminum are typical materials.
- Blind rivets - Installed from one side without access to the rear. The mandrel shaft is pulled to expand the rivet. Used where accessibility is limited.
- Split rivets - Have a notch running halfway down the shaft. The rivet splits and expands when driving the head into place. Allows for adjustment and disassembly.
- Drive rivets - Feature pre-cut mandrel stems. The rivet head is driven onto the mandrel using an impact tool or rivet gun.
- Structural rivets - Used for critical repairs and construction. Must conform to structural standards.
In addition to various metals, rivets can be manufactured from polymers, composites and other materials. The material is chosen based on the strength, corrosion resistance and temperature resistance needed for the intended application.
Advantages of Rivets
There are several key reasons why rivets continue to be a popular fastening choice after centuries of use:
- Strong – Properly installed rivets form permanent, robust connections. The upsetting process work-hardens the rivet, increasing strength.
- Reliable – Provides consistent clamping force and fatigue resistance when used appropriately.
- Durable – Withstands vibration, shock, and stress over time. Does not come loose like screws or bolts.
- Economical – Inexpensive to manufacture. Automated installation reduces assembly costs and time. Reusable in some applications.
- Lightweight – Weight savings compared to other fasteners like welding or bolting. Benefits aircraft, vehicles, and structures.
- Effective Joining – Joins dissimilar or thin materials. Seals joints from leakage. Maintains electrical conductivity.
The versatility, longevity, and proven performance of rivets ensure they will continue to be integral to manufacturing and construction for years to come. Understanding proper rivet selection and installation techniques allows for optimal performance and safety. With the right rivets for the job, these dependable fasteners will provide durable, reliable connections under demanding conditions. CNC Milling CNC Machining