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.

Different screw head types from Challenge Europe

Kevin Moorcroft, M.D. here at industrial threaded fastener specialists Challenge (Europe) Ltd recently discussed the question – What screw head type should I use? – with some helpful tips as he explained: “Standard hexagon head is one of the most common form of screw or bolt head used throughout industry in typical sizes from M4 upwards but there are also countersunk screws with recesses of many types, e.g. multi-splined, hexagon socket, pozi and slotted. These have particular purposes since countersunk screws for example finish flush so need a recessed drive. There is also pan head which is effectively surface mounted and tends to be used for M1 up to M8 sizes with many drive forms available.”

For both stock and custom needs in recent years it seems that the tendency has been to avoid slotted drives because they do not lend themselves to power tools, either manually or robotically operated. Consequently a wide variety of other designs have been created primarily to aid fast and accurate machine-driven assembly with less slippage and more control of speed, torque and pressure.

Standard external hexagon drives suit many kinds of automated assembly, these and hex socket drives are both very positive options for larger sizes. However, auto-feed tooling is required for high speed assembly and this presents the screw to the driver which best utilises multi-spline recessed heads for fast positive performance.

Socket head cap screws are a good example of a screw design suitable for manual or semi-automated production and feature an internal hex drive in a circular head, often with external knurled finish which aids manual starting of the thread allowing a good finger grip for positioning. Similarly, flange head bolts which have a flange that stands in place of a washer to spread the load. A related variant is the range of socket set screws (grub screws) with internal hex drive, which are used for location, e.g. collars on shafts and similar.

Carriage bolts are a good example of a very useful and specialist head type, in this case very popular with the construction industry. They are formed as a dome with square underneath designed to locate into a square hole in metal or to pull down and lock into wood. This enables the bolt to be tamper proof on the head side and for the nut to be done up/undone without needing a tool at both ends of the bolt/assembly.

Thread forms for industrial screws and fasteners at Challenge

Metric thread forms are common across a significant range of fastener products, so that for example an M5 thread is the same irrespective of the head type or screw style. There are of course fine thread, extra fine thread and constant pitch series, but if possible these are to be avoided as their stocked range is not as comprehensive as it is for your more general coarse pitch threads.

Challenge (Europe) Ltd M.D. Kevin Moorcroft explained that “the coarse pitch series of threads will meet most general engineering requirements so these are the standard production and ex-stock items. The more specialist threads such as an M10 fine pitch socket head cap screw, may be stocked by specialists such as ourselves here at Challenge Europe but of course the finer pitch thread forms can come at a premium price simply by reason of economies of supply”.

“Similarly for ‘old’ imperial threads such as the B.A. range, once commonly used within electrical equipment, which has seen its availability diminish during the last recession leading to enforced redundancy in many applications. Although demand still exists for the range, only those sizes/types with viable volumes tend to be stocked and available at reasonable pricing. Sizes not commonly stocked can be small batch produced but again at the risk of premium pricing.”

Other thread forms are slightly different – for example self-tapping screws which have a coarser pitch – and were conventionally used in sheet metal work with variants later developed specifically for use in plastics, the latter becoming more commonly known as thread forming screws. Thread forming screws also exist for use in metals and create a finer machine screw type thread by material deformation during insertion, the theory being that a thread forming screw could be removed if required and replaced with a machine screw. Thread cutting screws also exist having a lead in design feature that specifically aids the cutting/removal of material in a similar way to a thread tap.

Thread forming and cutting screws tend to be smaller sizes typically M2 up to M8 – possibly M10 depending on the drive – since security of the drive determines the amount of torque that can be transferred to the screw.

Specials, e.g. self-drilling screws, are another variant available in a several drill point and thread configurations suitable for use in a diverse range of applications and industries.

Industrial Screws from Challenge Europe

Many imperial thread sizes are now either obsolete or trending towards obsolescence, prompted by changes in demand patterns from countries such as the USA who are now drifting towards metric products. This increasing globalisation of metric threaded fasteners does not necessarily mean that all variations are commonly available and it remains important that design engineers are careful in their selection. Whether metric or imperial it is always advisable to seek advice and avoid either paying premium prices or creating lifetime availability issues.

The team here at Challenge (Europe) Ltd are well used to this situation and carry extensive stocks of standard sizes of industrial screws – plus a wide experience in supply of non-standard sizes, threads, lengths and materials.

Explained our M.D. Kevin Moorcroft “We find that standard sizes of metric products have grown extensively to compensate for this trend. ISO standards now cover a whole range of products complimentary to old imperial sizes, as well as expanding on the original ranges of metric fasteners, e.g. metric socket head cap screws once only available in 12.9 grade are now offered under the ISO standard in 8.8, 10.9 and 12.9 grades to suit a wider range of applications with varying requirements of tensile strength.”

As you would expect, small diameter screws find applications in areas such as electronic devices, medical equipment and instrumentation, while larger sizes are used in heavy duty applications such as radio masts, large lighting assemblies, machinery etc.

However, head configuration can have an effect on the size of fastener which can be used. For example, one may wish to use a M6 bolt with a hex head but find conventional spanner access limited, consideration could then be given to the use of recessed drives such as a hexagon (socket) or multiple splined variants. A further alternative is to go to a smaller diameter with an upgrade in material specification, although this may require a greater deal of investigation in order to avoid non-preferred diameters such as M7, M9, etc.

A common failing when at the design stage is to assume that smaller diameter threaded products are available in the same lengths as their larger diameter brethren. In general terms, the smaller the diameter then the shorter are the commonly available and stocked lengths. Nothing is impossible and specials can be created but these nearly always come at a premium price. The answer is to consult the experts whenever possible so contact us to check our stock and custom capability.

Challenge Europe makes threads material to the case

Threaded fastener systems – nuts, bolts, screws and washers used in manufacturing industry at large are a time served, well developed, reliable and surprisingly sophisticated technology. They are also well known – but it is often not appreciated just how critical it may be to choose exactly the right material and finish. This is where we at Challenge Europe can be of real help.

Manufacturing industry typically requires threaded fasteners in varying grades of steel, stainless steel, copper, brass and aluminium, depending on the installed environment and compatibility with neighbouring substrates.

As explained by Kevin Moorcroft, our M.D.: “The material choice is the most important first step but often just as important is the choice of finish – we offer chemi-black on mild steel, stayblack on stainless steel, zinc plated, chrome plated and nickel plated as standard finishes on many of our fixings.

“We work with design engineers and buyers in all industries to optimise choices and minimise costs so we can ensure highest quality and quickest assembly times for each product.”

Standard products include machine screws, self-tapping and self-drilling screws, as well as machine screw SEMs, thread-forming screws and hammer drive screws.

Contact us to discuss your threaded fastener and fixing needs.

Challenge Europe address the application for threaded fasteners

Each manufacturing industry has its own requirements, but all use threaded fasteners – nuts, bolts, screws and washers. Here at Challenge Europe we address these varying applications with experience and technical expertise which can save manufacturers’ time, money and concerns about quality. Industries such as electronics, medical, agricultural, general machinery, instrumentation, marine, and building, all benefit from our careful consideration of the presented specification and supply of quality fasteners.

Each application is different of course as our M.D. Kevin Moorcroft explains: “In many applications the requirement is fairly straightforward and can often be met by a standard item, however it is also quite common to require a higher spec material or different length, different head form, unusual thread length or non-standard finish. That is where we come in to help identify what is needed and to supply at a competitive price. Where something more custom is needed then we can deal with that too; as we can with a range of fastener associated products or, where a threaded system is not suitable, then we can provide a riveting solution”.

Standard products include socket shoulder screws, machine screws, self-drilling screws and hex-headed high tensile bolts. Smaller sizes of many fasteners particularly suit the electronics industry and a range of plastic plugs protect products in transit from ingress of foreign bodies. Korrex plastic nut caps are ideal for outdoor protection.

Contact us to discuss your threaded fastener needs

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