Rivets can do a great job holding thin metal sheets together, but they do leave bumps behind when they deform the sheet material during installation. And these bumps can really get in the way when space is at a premium or when assemblies have stringent cosmetic requirements. The patented SpotFast Fastener from PennEngineering does away with these localized thickness changes.
"We've eliminated the bulbing that results when rivets deform the panel material," says Jay McKenna, PennEngineering's special products manager. To avoid the backside bumps caused by riveting, the SpotFast employs a pair of internal undercuts, or "clinch profiles." During installation, each panel cold flows into its own undercut, leaving a flush transition between panel and fastener, McKenna explains, noting that the undercuts have been positioned within each SpotFast size to accommodate a range of sheet thicknesses. While the SpotFast offers flush installation on both top and bottom sheets, it can also install flush with just the top surface and blind in the bottom sheet, McKenna adds. The new fastener also offers a couple of design twists that go beyond rivet replacement. For one thing, it can serve as a flush pivot point in which the top sheet can rotate around the fastener while the bottom sheet remains stationary. "This opens up a world of design possibilities," says McKenna, who cites enclosure openings as just one example. The SpotFast can serve as an alternative to welding in cases where cosmetic requirements rule out any visible weld lines. "Or when sheets are just too thin to weld," McKenna says. It also can be used to join dissimilar materials that can't be easily welded together. PennEngineering will offer the new fastener for sheet thickness of 0.020-inch and up starting in May. For more information, go to http://rbi.ims.ca/4917-645. View larger product image
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