Rivets: An Overview of Their Uses and Applications (laser cutting sheet metal Hugo)

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Rivets are an incredibly versatile and useful fastener used in a wide variety of industries and applications. In this article, we will provide an overview of rivets, their characteristics and advantages, as well as the many uses and applications for rivets across different sectors.
What are Rivets?
A rivet is a type of mechanical fastener that consists of a cylindrical shaft with a head on one end. The rivet is inserted into pre-drilled holes through the materials being joined, and the other end is deformed using a riveting hammer or rivet gun to create a second head that holds the materials together.
Rivets come in a range of materials like aluminum, steel, copper, stainless steel, titanium and more. The material chosen depends on factors like strength requirements, corrosion resistance needed, weight considerations and cost. Aluminum and steel rivets are most common for general applications.
Benefits of Rivets:
- High strength-to-weight ratio, especially with aluminum rivets
- Easy installation with access from only one side required in most cases
- Permanent fastening method that does not loosen over time like screws/bolts can
- Cost-effective compared to welding or other permanent fastening methods
- Can accommodate some variability in hole size/alignment
- Vibration/shock resistant fastening method
- Can be used to join dissimilar metals
Applications and Uses:
Aerospace and Aviation
Rivets are extensively used in aircraft and spacecraft construction to join the thin sheets of aluminum that make up the exterior skin or fuselage. Rivets don't spark, have high shear strength, and permanent fastening ability – critical factors for aircraft safety and performance. Specialty rivets like cherry rivets and blind rivets are commonly used in aviation.
Construction and Infrastructure
Steel rivets see widespread use in civil construction like bridges, towers, roofing, rail tracks, shelters, transmission towers, and more. Their high tensile strength, vibration resistance, ease of installation, and permanence make them ideal for structural construction. Stainless steel rivets are preferred for corrosive environments.
Automobiles and Transportation Vehicles
Sheet metal body panels, frames, interior components, and more are joined using steel and aluminum rivets in cars, trucks, buses, railcars, trailers and heavy transport vehicles. Blind rivets allow riveting pre-assembled parts from one side. Rivets withstand the vibration and impacts vehicles routinely experience.
Appliances and Electronics
Rivets are commonly used during manufacture of appliances like ovens, dishwashers, refrigerators, etc. to assemble the metallic chassis and joins sheet metal panels. In electronics like computers, phones, instruments, etc. small aluminum rivets assemble casings, frames and internal parts/PCBs. Resistance to electric current makes rivets suitable here.
Industrial Machinery
Heavy machinery used in agriculture, construction, mining, oil/gas, etc. require extremely rugged, vibration resistant joining methods. Large steel rivets are ideal for assembling the massive frames and components in this equipment. Their one-side installation ability also assists machinery assembly/maintenance.
Shipbuilding and Marine Applications
The constant shocks and corrosion exposure in marine vessels makes high strength aluminum rivets ideal for hull assembly, decking, bulkheads, railings, masts, and other parts in ships, boats, offshore platforms etc. Their permanence prevents loosening over time in rough seas.
Plumbing and Piping Systems
Copper rivets provide leak-free joining of copper pipes and plumbing fixtures. Stainless steel rivets assemble stainless steel tubing systems to avoid corrosion from chemicals/fluids. Aluminum rivets join aluminum irrigation pipes. Riveted joints withstand vibration/shocks better than soldered, brazed or screwed pipes.
Storage Tanks and Pressure Vessels
Assembling large steel plates into storage tanks, boilers, silos, gas cylinders etc. often relies on rows of steel rivets for high strength and leak-proof joining. Rivets handle the stresses from internal pressure better than welds in many cases. Heat/corrosion resistant rivets are used as required.
Security Doors, Safes and Vaults
Armored security doors in banks, stores, airports and other facilities are assembled using rows of steel rivets for maximum strength. The same applies for safes, vaults, evidence lockers etc. Rivets do not allow access or disassembly like screwed joints, enhancing security.
While this covers the primary uses and applications, rivets also see niche uses in art, jewelry, musical instruments, firearms, watches, and many other areas. They are an essential component of CNC machining and manufacturing across industries. With advancing technology, innovations like self-piercing rivets, flow drill rivets and solid rivets have expanded capabilities further. In summary, rivets are a versatile, reliable and cost-effective fastening solution with widespread use in assembly and construction. CNC Milling