Aircraft are composed of countless components, many of which must be secured with fasteners. For years, the aerospace fastener industry has continually developed new and stronger variations that can increase aircraft performance. As such, there are numerous types of standard fasteners, such as nuts, screws, rivets, bolts, pins, and collars. Since they are subjected to extreme environmental conditions like high pressures and high temperatures, they must be designed to withstand such environments.
A majority of the fasteners that cater to the aerospace industry are made in different sizes, shapes, and qualities. For instance, they possess a high resistance to corrosion and oxidation, which is essential since aircraft are exposed to varying temperatures. Beyond needing a lightweight construction that adheres to aerodynamic principles, they have high shear, fatigue, and tensile strength. Furthermore, they must be self-sealing and self-locking, ensuring aircraft parts are secured properly.
One of the primary ways to guarantee that the fasteners you select meet your specific requirements is to look at the materials they are composed of. In particular, aircraft fasteners are usually made of either aluminum, steel, titanium, or super alloys, all of which we will outline in the next section.
Though it is popularly utilized for atmospheric planes, aluminum requires additional treatments to work optimally in such aircraft. For example, aluminum rivets must be subjected to a cold forming process in order to be used as aerospace fasteners. Even after processing aluminum, it is still incredibly sensitive at 250 degrees Fahrenheit and above, and it is also sensitive to stress-induced corrosion.
Steel and its alloys are recognized for having two central characteristics: high strength and surface hardness. However, if you are opting for steel fasteners, they must be carefully selected as steel is much heavier than other materials. Such weight can cause problems if the design and construction is not done properly. For instance, some steel variations are more susceptible to heat damage. Series C300 corrosion resistant stainless steel is usually the material of choice for aerospace screws, bolts, and fastener covers. Meanwhile, series 400 are opted for when one needs fasteners with high resistance to heat.
More recently, aluminum is being quickly replaced by titanium in numerous applications as its strength and lightweight qualities outperform its counterparts. More than that, titanium has a high level of resistance to heat and cold.
Also called high-performance alloys, super alloys have the capacity to withstand a wide range of extreme conditions. They are highly versatile and can maintain their structural and surface integrity despite the harsh conditions they are subjected to. Some of the most common super alloys include A286, inconel 780, and hastelloy.
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