One of the most common needs in engineering is to join two or more parts together. Usually, the main requirement is for a secure and long-lasting bond, although the ability to undo the joint at will is not uncommon. Here, John Marshall, Technical Engineer at WDS Component Parts reviews the relative merits of various fastener and adhesive options.
Engineers frequently have to join things together. This simple statement covers a multitude of considerations. The parts can vary in size or be of any material; the application may have specials needs or the working environment may preclude certain options. Fortunately there are just as many options, so an optimum solution can be found for each job.
Design and industrial engineers will usually opt for a fastener or adhesive solution, so it is mainly a matter of identifying the option that best suits the situation. (In some cases welding is an option for metal parts).
There are many forms of fastener, such as a bolt, screw, rivet, clamp, latch or band. As mechanical devices, the distinction between them is fairly clear to see – and simple to understand. Though the characteristics of each require careful consideration before a decision is made when specifying for a new application.
Similarly, nowadays there are many industrial adhesives available to design engineers. Each one is formulated to provide set characteristics, so there is a need to identify the best for each situation. Significantly, new types of adhesives are regularly launched, suggesting that the technology is still developing as new formulations are developed and new fields of application pioneered.
One thing that fasteners and adhesives have in common is that users tend not to keep them stock, but order them as needed. This almost always leads to a requirement for quick delivery, typically next day.
WDS is fully aware of the need and has shaped it product range and service offer accordingly. For instance, the majority of its product range is manufactured in-house in the UK using lean manufacturing techniques. This means that it is geared up to provide a quick response to incoming orders which allows it to offer next day delivery in the majority of cases.
On the fastener front, the WDS range includes regular nuts, bolts, screws and washers as well as more specialised components like eye bolts, swing bolts, socket screws, shoulder screws, retaining screws, tommy bar screws; locks, latches and catches; all manner of hinges and clamps; toggle clamps and latches; retaining springs, clips and pins. These are all available in a range of sizes and materials so that just about every requirement can be met.
In the unusual circumstance that a suitable fastener is not in stock, a rapid manufacturing order can be raised and the product delivered immediately. In the even more unusual circumstance that a suitable fastener cannot be found in the WDS catalogue, designers are standing by and ready to produce a bespoke solution.
WDS is committed to staying abreast of the evolving needs of its customers and adjusting its product portfolio accordingly. As such it has recently introduced new adhesives to its offering. New additions include a thread locking adhesive, available in a range of different strengths, and general purpose super glue.
As well as ensuring a secure joint, the thread locking glues also provide a sealing function that can be useful in wet, damp or humid applications and environments. The super glue combines high performance and fast curing with low viscosity for easy application. Suitable for many situations it is particularly appropriate for plastic or rubber applications requiring fast bonding.
Ease of use is another characteristic that is increasingly expected with fasteners and adhesives. For this reason WDS prefers ready to use adhesives, so that application does not require on-site mixing or other extra duties.
Fasteners are designed to be as ergonomic as possible, and to avoid the requirement for special tools. In order to meet the widest range of applications, WDS maintains as catalogue items many stainless steel parts, special designs such as hook clamps which combine high force with rapid adjustment, fast fitting cam clamp levers and many other specialist products.
Recognising that the design stages of a project are just as important as the build and assembly, WDS has CAD files for over 20,000 parts available on line for instant download. Furthermore, its design team is always on hand to offer help and advice.
With a wide and growing range of products and a commitment to support service, WDS maintains its abilities by continuing to invest in in-house manufacturing so that high product flexibility and short lead times are givens. The latest investment includes a new grinding machine at its ISO90001 certified plant in Leeds where the majority of its standard parts are made.