Challenge Europe explain how to specify a threaded fastener product

Threaded fasteners are still one of the most common mechanical products manufacturing companies require on a daily basis. In fact they are so common that accurate terminology is often overlooked in the specification process and the complexity of detail may not be adequately appreciated. Our team at Challenge Europe therefore focus on full conversation with users where they can guide and advise.

For example, many people are unaware of the simple difference between a bolt and a set screw, a mistake which may cost thousands of pounds in incorrect supply, replacement delays, production delays and the knock-on implications for contractual defaults or even catastrophic service failures if not corrected before ultimate use in the field.

Consequently the team at Challenge Europe have developed the experience and skill to guide customers along the path of selecting the right product for the job and helping them to understand the correct terminology to be used at the design stage or when ordering for manufacture.

Knowing the traps that can be easily fallen into, simple questions are asked that will enable us to determine what it is that the customer is looking for. It is important that even basic information is determined correctly, like how is the customer measuring the length of a product, do they realise that most male fasteners are measured from under the head, whereas countersunk fasteners are measured inclusive of the head?

In very basic terms what are the things to be kept in mind when ordering fasteners:

  1. Material – brass, steel, stainless steel etc.
  2. Grade – 4.8, 8.8, 10.9, 12.9 etc.
  3. Finish – self-colour, zinc plated, chemi-blacked, nickel plated etc.
  4. Diameter – metric or imperial
  5. Thread form – metric coarse, metric fine, BSW, UNC, UNF, BA, etc.
  6. Head form – Hexagon, Countersunk, Pan, Cheese, Cap, etc.
  7. Drive form – Socket, Multi-Lobed, Pozi, Phillips, Slotted, etc.
  8. Application – how is the fastener being used

There are of course many other factors that need to be taken into consideration at the more specialised end of the fastener range but here at Challenge Europe we are able to provide technical expertise in helping to prevent the sort of frustration and product failures possible from simple mistakes of the kind described.

Brass threaded inserts from Challenge Europe Ltd

Here at Challenge Europe we are delighted to supply ex-stock a standard range of metric and imperial brass threaded inserts for use in the manufacturing and installation industries, in order to provide a robust thread in moulded/fabricated plastic components, where the softness of the substrate precludes a tapped thread. Brass threaded inserts are a favourite for use throughout industry where they can provide a quick thread just by drilling or moulding a pilot hole and pressing the insert into place.

A well-known and much used solution to fixing onto non-metals, brass threaded inserts can often provide higher torque or pull out performance by the application of heat or ultrasonic energy to further embed the insert into its substrate.

Expansion and self-tapping inserts are also available in brass for use in plastics or in the case of wood, and some composite materials, steel and stainless self-tapping inserts can be supplied.

Contact us in Bedford to discuss your production needs.

Thread forming screws for plastics - from Challenge Europe

We are delighted to offer an extensive range of threaded fasteners ex-stock which includes many specialist items such as thread forming screws for plastics. These have become more and more important in the assembly of everything from electronic equipment to furniture.

Kevin Moorcroft, our MD, explained “thread forming screws for plastics are easily inserted into drilled or moulded holes in thermoplastic materials where they deform the material to provide optimum fastening force superior to standard self-tappers. They are especially useful in the manufacturing production environment where automatic feed can be employed to greatly speed the assembly process. Thread forming screws eliminate the need for nuts or inserts, so reducing piece part costs, labour costs and process costs.”

There are a range of thread geometries associated with this type of screw, this is to allow for their use with different component materials and design features. For example, if required for insertion into thinner walled, harder plastic, mouldings it might be advisable to try a trilobular thread variant which tends to reduce the risk of burst out. Of course the choice of hole diameter can be critical and we at Challenge can advise on both screw selection and suitable hole diameters.

Head formats include countersunk, pan, and flange types with cross recess or multi-splined (star) drives. Typical materials include hardened steel with a zinc & clear passivate finish or in some instances black finishes can be available, also stainless steel.

New Hafren range of security fasteners available from Challenge Europe - anti-vandal and anti-tamper screws and nuts

Challenge Europe are delighted to have in their portfolio the Hafren range of security fasteners – a range of anti-vandal, anti-tamper screws and nuts proven in applications from architectural and street furniture, to marine and industrial equipment.

2 hole headed (otherwise known as pignose or snake eye) A2 stainless screws, bolts and self-tappers provide a versatile and clean look to installations while deterring vandals and keeping installations safe. Likewise, shear-nuts in zinc plated steel, galvanised, A2 and A4 stainless.

The Hafren range from Challenge Europe also covers 6-lobe driven threaded fasteners in A2 stainless steel with centre pin, in self-tapping, machine screw, self-drilling, barrel nut and floor anchor formats. Both countersunk and dome headed types are available.

Contact us for details of the Hafren range of security fasteners.

Production oriented fasteners from Challenge Europe

The needs of manufacturing industry can generally be listed under the headings “reliability, speed, quality and cost” in varying order – but whatever the exact balance, design is always at the heart of achieving a successful outcome a balance which is clearly understood here at Challenge Europe.

As our MD Kevin Moorcroft explains – “Automation in particular, places exceptional demands on a fastener above and beyond how well it does its job in service. For example, designs such as Torx™ and Torx Plus™ are less prone to slippage and wear in the assembly cycle – likewise, collated nails and screws for electric and pneumatic installation are ideal for the building/construction industry – similarly, self-piercing rivets especially designed for fast joining of sheet metal.”

Many drive forms for threaded fasteners exist, each with a different relevance to assembly, e.g. by hand, with power tools, semi-automatic, fully automatic and completely automated. Each also carries varying degrees of security when installed. At the simple end we have slot, cross head, socket, square and hex head forms. More complex we have hex lobed (torx), tri-lobed (tri-wing), torq-set, triple square (12 point), polydrive, double hex (8 point), bristol, one way, splined, hex+pin, hexlobe+pin and pignose (spanner head/snake eye).

It must be kept in mind that not all the above are freely available in a wide range of sizes, head styles or materials. Many were initially developed to meet specific applications and would be very expensive options unless your demands ran into the hundreds of thousands.

In principle the simpler drive forms are suited to lower speed assemblies whereas the more specialist complex designs offer higher speed and higher torque capability. Types with centre pin or dual holes are primarily for security installations.

Where high speed jointing of sheets is required on a continuous basis then the investment in the specialist equipment for self-piercing rivets can prove a worthwhile exercise – no holes are required and a neat join is produced – it is essentially a single iterative process which can be used on un-weldable materials and combinations of differing materials. There is minimal damage to coated sheets and it is a low impact process in terms of environment, e.g. zero fumes or heat, low noise levels and low energy usage.

Contact us to discuss your production needs.

Manufacturing and Assembly capability at fastener supplier Challenge Europe

As specialist fastener suppliers we often meet customers with low volume, low tech, problem jobs that have come along at inconvenient times and which would take up disproportionate resources in house. Consequently we have developed an expertise to take on these specialist projects so that we can soak up urgent or otherwise troublesome small component production, to enable smoothing of resource usage, efficiency and cost reduction. This means that we can efficiently and reliably feedback the finished items as needed to suit production requirements often with the integration of the required fasteners processes.

Projects include racking assemblies, lifting handles for instrument cases, clamp screws, modification of standard components into specials, e.g. safety valves, cutting of studding to length, small and simple welding fabrications, brackets, countersinking, tapping and other similar light engineering.

This add-on service has benefited many existing customers who have taken advantage of the engineering expertise available here at Challenge Europe and coupled it to ongoing fastener supply for existing production so saving time and money.


Challenge Europe support growing UK manufacturing industry demand for threaded fasteners

As UK manufacturing industry once again uses all its ingenuity and determination to grow itself out of externally derived problems, Challenge Europe are geared up to help with design and production support in supply of standard and custom threaded fasteners.

The Challenge Europe service packages provide advice in the design/development phase, coupled with a range of supply approaches through the production cycle.

Typically this takes the form of stockholding, monitoring of usage patterns, inventory control and/or site management – all the way up to production system integration using a customer preferred production model, e.g. Kanban, Lineside supply, JIT or Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI).

This is achieved with ISO 9001 systems and a fast response capacity for standard threaded fasteners as well as for security and custom fastenings, and related components.

Challenge Europe is a member of the Engineering Industries Association and able to offer specialised manufacture of fasteners including nuts, bolts, screws, washers and allied products including sub-assembly and packaging.

For especially urgent or local requirements Challenge Europe maintain a drop-in trade counter service and extensive warehouse stock holding. Contact us to discuss your fastener needs.

Self-drilling screws from Challenge Europe

The concept of self-drilling screws came out of the need for speed and the realisation that by putting a cutting face on the end of a power driven screw it could cut its own hole and immediately generate a female thread, so saving a considerable amount of time. In the case of self-drilling Tek type screws, with integral sealing washer, this time saving is increased, together with the added functional improvement of instantaneous sealing.

Challenge Europe are significant suppliers of self-drilling screws for application in the construction industry, general engineering, agriculture and others, where steel, other metal or plastic sheet needs secure fixing to steel frames, wood or composites. The Challenge Europe production service means that they can help specify the correct screw and ensure reliable supply on a Kanban or similar basis.

Challenge Europe self-drilling screws are offered in a variety of configurations to suit the specific requirements of the material into which they are being driven e.g. drill points, gimlet point with serrated lead threads, needle point, etc. Head forms available include self-countersinking, pan head, integral flange or hexagon heads in plated finishes and in stainless steel.

Ex-stock and custom sealing washers for manufacturers from Challenge Europe

We are delighted to announce large stocks of sealing washers such as Dubo rings and Dowty washers, also those manufactured from rubber, EPDM, neoprene, silicone, nylon and fibre  are available for immediate delivery. We are also pleased to advise on specification of custom sealing solutions for threaded fasteners to suit all types of industrial applications.

Specialist sealing of fasteners such as bolts and machine screws can be achieved with Dubo ring technology or with options such as Dowty washers. Where a more traditional method is required then washers in EPDM are often supplied – other options include NBR, fibre, nylon or neoprene. For more extreme environments where greater resistance to heat, oils and solvents is required more exotic materials such as FPM/FKM (e.g.Viton) can be offered.

Supply models for manufacturers in production situations include Kanban, Line-Side Supply, Vendor Managed and JIT systems, providing peace of mind to suit high and low tech’ products. The Challenge Europe supply program covers advisory “hand-holding” where required from design to finished product in metric or imperial sizes and an extensive range of materials with each project sourced and stocked for optimal production.

Vibration proof threaded fasteners from Challenge Europe

As specialist industrial suppliers of threaded fastenings and fixings, here at Challenge Europe we have built up a portfolio of vibration proof products to suit many manufacturing and installation applications, both ex-stock and to custom specifications.

For sealing and locking purposes the Dubo Retaining Ring is a deformable plastic collar which prevents rotation of a threaded bolt or screw while effectively sealing the opening. Dubo rings are chemically resistant to most industrial environments and do not deteriorate or wear. They also absorb vibrations by virtue of their plastic-flexible characteristics. Dubo toothed collar rings complete the system where extra support is needed.

Traditional self-locking nut solutions are of course part of the Challenge Europe package including nylon insert nuts, and all metal self-locking variants that use a range of features e.g. deformed or collapsed threads, to provide an interference fit condition. Other types of anti-vibration nuts include the serrated flange type and those that are combined with an external toothed lock washer. These are all available with the Challenge Europe supply chain management service of Kanban, Line-Feed (or Line-Side Supply), Vendor Managed Supply or JIT programming etc. Where a self-locking nut approach is not appropriate there are a number of washer products that can be used to impart vibration resistant properties, these include toothed lock washers, shakeproof washers, crinkle washers, Belleville washers and many sorts of nylon or fibre sealing washers.

Often of course a nut or washer solution may not always be suitable and in many cases the use of a patch applied to the male thread will prove to be a better option. These patches can be a simple nylon type which provides an interference fit but allows for the component to be used several times, or it can be of the adhesive type for a more permanent form of assembly. Challenge Europe can supply either of these which also carry the benefit of enabling quick automated insertion for continuous production assembly.

So contact us now for your vibration proof fastener needs.

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