It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say thousands, potentially millions, of fasteners are used each day across the world. Despite the technological advancements made in regard to these pieces of equipment – stronger materials and better manufacturing processes – there’s the potential for them to loosen or break. Considering the importance of these screws, nuts and bolts, failure to maintain their connections could result in weakening crucial structures and endangering people’s lives.
To reduce the risk of fasteners failing, workers can use threadlock adhesives.
What Are Threadlock Adhesives?
Threadlock adhesives are resins that chemically bond the parts together. The resins are applied to the threads of the fasteners and fill all microscopic gaps in the materials, completely sealing the fasteners together. Without this resin, the actual physical connection between fasteners can be as little as 15 percent, according to Electronic Fasteners.
What Threadlock Adhesives Do
It is overly simple to say threadlock adhesives are glue. These substances mitigate risks that are often the cause of fasteners failing: tension relaxation and loosening. Changes in temperatures in the surrounding areas cause fasteners to expand and contract depending on the materials used. When the equipment does this, it’s possible for the connection to become loose. Fasteners can self-loosen due to a lateral sliding motion between the pieces of equipment, which could be caused by vibrations. Additionally, fasteners may have a weak connection due to being improperly threaded.
Threadlock adhesives not only prevent motion and loosening, they also protect the equipment from gathering moisture or being corroded by gasses and fluids.
Traditional threadlock adhesives had limitations, such as being negatively affected by extreme cold and hot temperatures. Newer products like anaerobic adhesives use chemical technology that allows these materials to function up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. These adhesives remain liquid until deprived of oxygen in the presence of metal ions. This means they cure within 24 hours after the fastener is assembled, and the hardened material provides a high-strength connection.
Choosing an Adhesive
There are a variety of threadlock adhesives on the market, and not all of them are perfect in each situation. Manufacturers have created products with differing strengths, allowing workers to use resins that allow for fasteners to be removed or resins that will be in place for years to come.
With low-strength adhesives, fasteners can be easily disassembled, and the resin can also be cleaned from the equipment, which can then be reused. Fasteners with medium-strength adhesive can generally be removed with hand tools, and even equipment with the highest strength product can be removed with hand tools after being heated to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Screws, meters and gauges up to one-quarter of an inch in diameter that will need adjustments over time often receive low-strength adhesive. Fasteners up to three-fourths of an inch in diameter used in machine tools, presses, pumps and compressors often receive medium-strength adhesive. High-strength products are applied to equipment that is up to one inch in diameter and used in permanently assembled equipment and structures.
Additionally, the metal type of the fasteners will influence the choice of threadlock. If the equipment is made of inactive metals, workers must use a primer for the adhesive to cure. If only one of the pieces of equipment is made of an inactive metal, a primer may not be necessary.
These materials lose their potential benefits if they aren’t applied properly, which can be manually, semi-automatically or through automatic dispense systems. There are also fasteners with pre-applied coats of adhesive. A dry coat of capsules of the adhesive are administered to the equipment. These capsules then break when the fastener is assembled, allowing the adhesive to connect the metals.
Adhesive should be put on only the parts of the fasteners that will come into contact after being tightened. Blind-hole connections should have adhesive on the bolt and mating threads, and large pieces of equipment should also receive adhesive on both parts.
Threadlock adhesives are a crucial instrument for strong, long-lasting work in many industries, and new technology is continuously being developed to offer stronger materials.
At Border States Electric, safety is not just a priority, it is a value.
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