When they initially talked to customers, product development engineers at Penn Engineering were surprised to learn that spring-loading is not an important requirement for a low-cost fastener--as long as it has all of the other benefits of a panel fastener. Based on that insight, Penn Engineering (Danboro, PA) has just introduced the PFHVTM, a high-value, self-clinching steel panel fastener that sells for about half the price of conventional, spring-loaded fasteners.
"The secret of our design," says Pete Vogel, product manager, "is we reduced the component and assembly cost of the panel fastener by using a retention feature that is designed into the retainer. Therefore, we can cost-effectively assemble the two-piece panel fastener." He adds that a patent for the novel assembly has been applied for.
The panel fasteners are available in two screw lengths and a variety of thread sizes. Both a universal/slot Phillips drive and a six-lobe/slot combination drive are available. Along with all of the standard features of a conventional panel fastener, the PFHV also features a low profile and compact design (see drawing). Moreover, the headed screw provides better head strength and costs less than a machine screw.
Initially, Penn Engineering is targeting electronics applications, including access panels, plug-and-play modules, and component equipment and instrumentation. Vogel reports that early customer feedback has been extremely positive. The company also plans to introduce a low-cost, spring-loaded fastener in 1999.