While the aircraft may be one of the greatest engineering marvels of our time, their advanced technology and capabilities are fairly meaningless when disassembled. Fasteners are commercial hardware parts that may be used to secure two or more components together in either a permanent or non-permanent fashion. Millions of fasteners may be used to assemble structures, equipment, systems, and other components of a single aircraft. Rivets in particular are an important type of mechanical aircraft fastener that is often used for much of the assembly of an aircraft, and there are many types of rivets that are installed throughout the structure. As aircraft hardware parts, roughly 40,000 rivets may be used on a single Boeing 747 wing for assembly and integrity, acting as testament to their importance for aviation. In this blog, we will discuss how rivets function to hold an aircraft together, as well as the various common types of rivets that may be present on an aircraft.
Rivets are mechanical fasteners that consist of a threadless, cylindrical shaft and a head. For installation, the tail of the rivet is passed through the holes of the components before being deformed with a special tool or hammer. When the tail is deformed, it produces a second head that locks the components together permanently. In regards to aircraft hardware and structures, rivets are used for securing sections of skin, ribs, spars, bracings, and fittings. Rivets can be used to bear loads, such as tension and shear, though rivets typically excel in bearing shear loads over tension due to their second head.
Solid rivets, or solid shank rivets, may be considered the most basic and standard type of rivet, and they have been in use since the Bronze Age. Solid rivets consist of a cylindrical shaft and a head, and their tail may be upset with the use of a rivet gun or hammer. Solid rivets are heavily used within the assembly of an aircraft, such as for the installation of the frame. When solid rivets are used for aircraft structures, the most common materials for manufacturing them are aluminum alloys, titanium, or nickel-based alloys due to their high reliability and resistances. When a solid rivet is used for the structural assembly of bridges or frames, steel is more common due to the structures being a static application. Solid rivets require access to both sides of the assembly that it is securing, as it needs to be driven in from one side, as well as deformed from the other. When access to both sides of the components proves either difficult or impossible, other rivet types must be used.
Blind rivets are the solution for one sided access to components, and they serve as the second most commonly used rivet for aircraft hardware components and structures. Blind rivets are similar to solid rivets, featuring a head and smooth cylindrical shaft, though they differ with the presence of an internal mandrel and weakened area near the head. For installation of blind rivets, the tail is passed through the hole of the component, and then a special tool is used to draw the mandrel through the body of the rivet. As the mandrel is pulled through the blind rivet, compression forces begin to exert on the shaft, causing the rivet to deform and create a second head to permanently secure the assembly. Typical blind rivets are manufactured from soft aluminum alloy, steel, stainless steel, copper, and Monel. Blind rivets such as internally and externally locked structural rivets are watertight, provide great shear load carrying capacity, and prevent loosening, making them very useful for aircraft assemblies.
Across all types of rivets that are used for commercial hardware parts or aircraft hardware components, airworthiness and other type-certification must be met for installation as mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). There are many types of standards and grades that rivets may meet, and some examples include Aeronautical Standard (AS), Military Standard (MS), National Aerospace Standard (NAS), Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and Air Force-Navy (AN). Standardization provides for specifications regarding material, size, head type, length, etc. In general, rivets that are standardized and/or are used for aircraft assembly are produced to meet much higher standards and specifications as compared to standard rivets for personal use.
When it comes time to begin sourcing the rivets and other aircraft hardware parts that you need for your next project or operation, Unlimited Purchasing has you covered with everything you are searching for. Unlimited Purchasing is owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, and we can help you find the aerospace parts and components that you need, new or obsolete. As a premier supplier of parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries, we're always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7x365. ASAP Semiconductor is an FAA AC 00-56B accredited and ISO 9001:2015 certified enterprise. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at +1-714-705-4780.
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