At a time when reshoring is very much a topic of concern, here at Challenge Europe are delighted to announce our partnership capabilities for sourcing and supply chain management of threaded fasteners on a specialist basis. This covers threaded products and related items from screws and bolts to nuts, washers, security fasteners, inserts and custom fasteners.
Our expert team are able to partner with assemblers/manufacturers and to offer contributions to cost control and pricing strategies by minimising administration costs, achieved by applying experience and appropriate technology, e.g. VMI. This enables us to deploy pay-as-you-use charging so reducing customer inventory costs to spread cash flow and by dealing with environmental issues to minimise the impact of manufacturing processes.
In addition to ex-stock programmed supply we assist partners by responding to urgent or short-term custom manufacturing of fasteners from our own in-house facility. This capability is ideal for small quantities and extends to partnering arrangements with fabricators and finishers so that we can cover a wide range of items from specialist threaded fasteners to sheet metal or cast fixings.
This capability enables us to produce components from alternative materials at short notice and to incorporate them into packaged sub-assemblies which allows customers to gain a complete package of high-quality and low-cost on standard mass-produced items and on small quantity specialist components.
A typical specialist partnership may therefore include in-house machining coupled with a global sourcing and supply infrastructure supported by in-depth expertise of the manufacturing cycle gained from over 30 years in the engineering arena. Contact us to discuss how we can achieve quality and cost improvements for your manufacturing process.
Specialist threaded fasteners often need help in forming the best attachment to soft core materials such as aluminium or magnesium alloys. Challenge Europe are pleased to announce their stock, advice and production service operation for a comprehensive range of wire thread inserts, available in both tanged and tangless variants, or screw thread inserts which provide high performance internal threads in castings where light weight of the complete assembly is a major issue.
These inserts provide significantly improved performance over the substrate, enabling bolt tension to be maintained under severe conditions of vibration, thermal stress and corrosive action.
Challenge Europe wire thread inserts represent an extensively proven well accepted technology and are exceptionally effective in aerospace, auto industry, electronics, medical and related industries.
Use of wire thread inserts enables manufacturer assemblers to access the best performance characteristics of a multi-material approach where combinations of metallurgy are required. Standard material is chrome nickel austenitic stainless steel which is compatible with most substrates and is both hard-wearing and corrosion-resistant.
A wide range of other materials and surface finishes are available to ensure optimum performance in a variety of thread forms and identification colours. Contact us to specify your needs.
With all the benefits of the internet it has become apparent that there are dangers – who of us has not come across the life-critical disease “we have self-diagnosed” online, or the false news/conspiracy theory which can reinforce our worst fears?
At a professional industrial level, Challenge Europe often find design engineers overlook the sophistication of threaded fasteners and fall into the trap of “internet specification” or “specification by CAD system”. A practice which seems to derive from pressure of time coupled with the perception that fasteners are low-end product and that sourcing can be done over the internet, relying on urgent sample supply in case of doubt.
An experienced fastener supplier can provide a wider knowledge at the level of advice in new product development, re-engineering and in problem-solving where difficulties arise. It is increasingly difficult to find this level of expertise outside of specialists such as Challenge Europe.
Ultimately, one can never know completely how a fastener will function in-situ until you try it which is why accelerated aging trials and extended excess load tests are frequently performed to ascertain a realistic safety margin. Guidelines from hard-won experience can normally be accessed, but sometimes an unusual situation needs to be evaluated or perhaps a replacement of the exact same type is simply not available and a suitable replacement is required. It is easy and tempting to over-specify, but Challenge Europe can help.
Fasteners can almost be regarded as active components, given the changing loads and environments they are often called upon to compensate for in their daily service. The simple act of holding together two separate components requires a balancing of forces – this is a complex matter often addressed by application of a “safety margin” judged to be sufficient to deal with the unknowns involved.
However, some industries deal with much more life and performance critical situations than others and so the concept of designing for a product lifetime has evolved – in one way to ensure that the specification is adequate, but on the other to time-limit the expectation, and so ensure that proper maintenance is mandated.
Aerospace, automotive and rail industries all follow this design for a specific lifetime philosophy – an approach rarely used elsewhere – and sometimes this leads to over specification in products which do not need it. This over specification is often a comfort issue, as a sort of safety margin which often makes the custom spec prohibitively expensive if not actually impractical. Over specification is a significant potential problem in the fastener industry.
This generally occurs in applications where there are issues of weight and space but where cost is secondary because of the safety critical nature of the situation. However sometimes given a minimum lifetime expectancy there can be a tendency to “play it safe” and add a safety margin on top of a safety margin, leading to gross over specification, e.g. going up one or two sizes with consequent weight and space implications. Calling for an exotic and expensive alloy where a lower-cost high-grade treated steel would be more appropriate. Over specifying one fastener may not be a problem but over specifying thousands can make a big difference overall.
Design for a specific lifetime is often a highly skilled art of combining knowledge from different areas, e.g. specific performance of the fastener, effect of varying material, options for head types and the stress they involve, stresses inbuilt into the fastener from its manufacturing process or treatment – a solution which can be achieved in concert with a fastener specialist such as Challenge Europe. Contact us here to discuss.
Machine screws are used almost everywhere! They are ubiquitous in assembly roles world-wide, especially for fixing accessories to castings, fixing castings together, often with nuts – fixing covers in place – from marine situations to aerospace, packaging to electronics.
The materials choice begins with low-grade steel for general purpose on up to high-force situations requiring high-grade steel, elsewhere calling for brass or copper for electrical conductivity, then covering corrosive environments where a stainless steel is needed – even to very high temperature or extremely aggressive environments which may need exotic alloys such as Hastelloy, Elgiloy, Titanium etc.
Typical issues include vibration loosening but this is now reliably addressed by a range of friction-based or washer-type solutions. However, significant care is needed where electro-galvanic action may be envisaged, i.e. where a mix of different materials is envisaged with conflicting electro potential.
The basic format of threaded shank and load-spreading head is capable of extensive adaptation with choices of thread form – although typically these will be an ISO Metric specification. Screw heads however are subject to a very wide range of shapes and design concepts to reduce vibration loosening, facilitate automatic installation, resist vandalism/unauthorised removal, or to create a smoother, more easily cleaned surface, e.g. in the food industry, or to facilitate especially high torque settings, such as may be required in high-performance industries such as aerospace or automotive applications.
Contact the team at Challenge Europe for further information, pricing, delivery etc.
At Challenge Europe we have always had a belief that “you can’t sell from an empty basket” and so have had a long-term policy of stocking heavily to ensure we are able to support changes in customer demand.
Therefore, we are pleased to announce that we have good stocks of threaded fasteners so that customers can be assured of robust supply. Of course, this is especially important at this time of general lock-down when it may prove difficult to access many existing channels – and will be just as important when the locks come off and urgent demand is felt in the recovery phase.
It is already clear that the medical device and associated equipment industries are stretched producing many times their usual output of beds, ventilators etc. to note only the headline items. Supply of hardware items such as threaded fasteners – screws, bolts, nuts, washers etc. is being supported by specialist expert stocking distributors like our team here at Challenge Europe who invite any company experiencing supply difficulties on these items, to contact us for an urgent service.
Here at Challenge Europe we come across the risks of excessive reliance on the automatic specification selection feature in many CAD systems at the design stage. These systems match physical dimensions but frequently neglect the materials or stock availability. This is also the case where, for example, a standardised component is requested, but in a material not covered by that standard. This focuses on the need to consult a specialist fastener supplier, especially regarding subcontract assemblies, since it may be that they cannot actually comply with the original drawing. In turn this has a major time implication in getting changes made when compliance is impossible.
A good example is a case where it was found necessary to take a superior product and downgrade it at extra cost, e.g. a washer to a certain specification, custom specified with a wide manufacturing tolerance where actually a normal spec washer would have been suitable but not meet the spec. The solution was to take standard washers and drill them out at extra cost. Especially where small quantities are concerned, this can be a major issue.
The solution has been found to lie in developing trusted supplier relationships where consultation at an early stage can bring these issues to light. Not only will such a supplier have an extensive knowledge of materials and finishes – they will also be in a position to advise on stock availability and alternative ways of meeting custom requirements. For example, it may not be necessary to custom produce from scratch where a standard item with treatment or other adaptation may be suitable, more readily available and cheaper.
Contact us for help with your specification issues.
The team here at Challenge Europe are used to dealing with questions of specification regarding materials and finishes of threaded fasteners. This preferably occurs early in the process of defining new assemblies, but may equally be of value at service or repair.
A good example is one where black stainless steel screws were specified using a treatment involving oil, however the retained oil was a significant problem in that it contaminated the substrate and substantially marred the appearance of the final assembly. It subsequently turned out that stainless steel was not necessary and that it was perfectly satisfactory to use normal steel with a different blackening process not requiring an oil – with absolutely no detriment to the application.
In truth, screws and nuts may be produced in so many materials and alloys from mild steel, high tensile steels, stainless steels, brass, nylon, copper, titanium, duplex stainless steels, exotics such as Inconel, Incoloy, Monel, Hastelloy, Zirconium, Molybdenum, Tantalum, Waspaloy, Tungsten, Silicon Bronze, Aluminium, Ferralium, Polyoxymethylene and even Fibreglass or glass reinforced plastics. So, it is not surprising that the selection may be very confusing and potentially problematic, especially when overlain with the further multiplicity of additional finishes available.
Typically, these finishes are most applicable to steels because of their ability to change the properties of screws made from this low-cost material. Primarily aimed at improving corrosion resistance or changing appearance, the most common include zinc, in various forms, occasionally cadmium, also black japanned, chemical black, chrome, electro brass, copper, stayblack or powder coating. Chromate conversion coatings are often used as part of the plating process to passivate the coated surface which enhances corrosion protection and can add a decorative effect in the cases of zinc & yellow and zinc & black. Using which substrate and which finish can be simplified with experienced advice available from a specialist fastener supplier. Contact us here.
The present situation is a challenge for all of us and it is interesting to see that many companies are stocking up as a precaution – but also as an act of faith that things will get better soon and in the belief that we will all need stock to get the industrial manufacturing machine back up to speed. Here at Challenge Europe we are looking after our staff and our customers ensuring both personal health and the health of our mutual businesses with safe working practices both internally and for delivery at customer sites. We are pleased that we have been able to make arrangements to ensure continuity of supply and service so that our customers continue to be fully supported while the situation lasts.
Contact us to discuss your fastener requirements at this time.