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What Are Fasteners and Their Most Common Types?

Fasteners are a common component type found in countless assemblies across industries and applications, used to join various materials and workpieces together in a permanent or non-permanent fashion. Depending on the application in question and its particular needs and requirements, one may use fasteners such as nuts, bolts, screws, washers, rivets, studs, puns, and more. As each of these options vary in their abilities and the type of materials they can be used with, it can be useful to have a basic understanding of the most common types of fasteners.

Before making a choice, it is first important to determine whether you need a fastening solution that is temporary, semi-permanent, or permanent. Temporary fasteners allow for rapid attachment and detachment, and joined parts do not need to be drilled, tapped, or otherwise damaged for fastening. This group includes nuts, bolts, screws, washers, and pins. With a semi-permanent fastener, the parts can be broken apart at the risk of losing their ability to work. Generally, this covers soldering and riveting. Lastly, permanent fasteners are one-time use, and they are designed so that the joined parts never come apart. This fastening style covers rivets, welding, soldering, and brazing. Now, we can cover a few of the most common fasteners and how they can be used.

Nuts and Bolts

While nuts and bolts are two distinct types of fasteners, they are both commonly used together to create assemblies. Nuts are often circular or hexagonal in their shape, and they feature a central hole with internal threading. Bolts, meanwhile, are externally threaded shafts with a head on one side. To secure an assembly, the tail of the bolt is passed through holes of work materials, and then a mating nut is attached to the opposite side of the head. Through bolt stretching, compression, and force, the assembly is highly secure until the nut is uninstalled.


Screws are fairly comparable to bolts in terms of their design, featuring an externally threaded shaft and a head on one side. Unlike bolts, screws do not need to be paired with a nut for installation. Instead, they are self-tapping, meaning that they are able to bore their own holes as they are installed into a material with the use of a screwdriver or similar tool. As the screw is tightened, the threading will pull materials in to ensure that the screw cannot easily be removed.


While washers are not able to secure components themselves, they are still quite useful for assemblies in their ability to distribute weight and act as spacers. Washers may vary in their design, but most are flattened, circular rings with a hole in the middle for a bolt or similar fastener to pass through. Oftentimes, washers are placed between a bolt and nut to separate them from the surface of the materials they join.


Rivets are a heavy-duty fastener for permanent installations, and they generally come in the form of a smooth cylindrical shaft with a head on one side. For installation, the tail of the rivet is passed through an assembly, and a specialized tool is used to form a second head to secure the assembly permanently until the rivet is broken.


Nails are a fastener type that is fairly simple to install, generally requiring one to just hammer the nail into the material in question. Oftentimes, nails are used to secure wood and other various materials for household applications and industrial needs alike. Nails should not be confused with bolts, as the two differ from one another as nails lack any threading.


While the aforementioned fasteners are all quite common, one may also take advantage of inserts, retaining rings, pins, anchors, and much more. On Industrials 360, we can help you source all of the various parts and components that you need to carry out your operations while ensuring competitive pricing and rapid lead times for your benefit. All of the listed items on our website are purchasable today, and we encourage you to utilize our RFQ forms provided online to quickly and easily request quotes for your comparisons. If you are interested in speaking with a representative for a more one-on-one purchasing approach, call or email us today and see how we can operate as your purchasing partner.


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