Rivets: An Essential Fastener for CNC Projects(nylon vs delrin Devin)

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Rivets are a versatile mechanical fastener used in many CNC projects to join two or more materials together. While welding, screwing, and gluing are other popular joining methods, riveting offers unique benefits that make it an indispensable tool for CNC work.
What are Rivets?
A rivet is a two-part mechanical fastener consisting of a smooth cylindrical shaft and a head. The shaft is inserted into pre-drilled holes in the materials being joined. The head is then mashed against the material using a tool called a rivet gun or riveting hammer, deforming the tail end of the shaft and clamping the materials together. The deformed tail is called the shophead or bucktail.
Benefits of Riveting in CNC
There are several key advantages that make riveting a preferred choice for many CNC applications:
- Strong and Secure Joints - The compressive force created by riveting forms an incredibly tough connection that won't loosen over time. This makes rivets ideal for high-stress parts.
- Vibration and Noise Resistance - Riveted joints can withstand tremendous vibration and noise without failing. This is crucial for CNC work like machine frames and automotive parts.
- Quick Installation - Rivets provide a fast way to assemble CNC projects. Holes are simply drilled, parts aligned, and rivets set by hand or with a rivet gun. No waiting for glue to dry or threaded holes to be tapped.
- Non-Corrosive - Most rivets are aluminum or steel, making them highly resistant to corrosion. This is vital for parts exposed to weather and moisture. Plastic and stainless steel rivets are also available.
- Easy Visual Inspection - It's easy to do a visual check to ensure rivets have been properly set. No torque measurements needed.
- Shear and Tensile Strength - Riveted joints have excellent shear (side) and tensile (pulling) strength, preventing parts from shifting under load.
- Disassembly and Reuse - Rivets allow nondestructive disassembly for maintenance and part replacement. In most cases, they can be drilled out and replaced.
- Material Flexibility - Rivets can join dissimilar metals or materials like plastics, ceramics, glass, and composites that can't be welded or screwed.
Common Rivet Types Used in CNC
There are various types of rivets available for CNC applications:
- Solid/Blind Rivets - Tubular rivets with a pre-assembled stem used for blind joints. Installed with a rivet gun. Excellent shear and tensile strength.
- Self-plugging Rivets - Blind rivets that seal the hole after installation. Useful where air or liquid tightness is critical.
- Drive Rivets - Installed using hammer blows rather than rivet gun. Used for hard-to-reach areas.
- Structural Rivets - Extra large rivets designed for maximum strength in structural connections. Used in truck frames, cranes, etc.
- Monobolts - Single-piece rivets without a bucktail. Streamlined look, but less grip than traditional rivets.
- Breakmandrels - Blind rivets that snap at reduced shank diameter for easy shophead removal.
- Split Rivets - Rivets with split ends that splay outward when set for quick disassembly. Used in low-stress applications.
Best Practices for Riveting in CNC Work
Proper rivet selection, hole sizing, and installation technique are key to achieving optimal riveted connections in CNC projects:
- Select rivets with adequate shear and tensile strength for the application. Consider joint stresses and materials.
- Hole diameter should match rivet shank for tight fit. Use rivet gauges for proper sizing.
- Drill holes perpendicular to surfaces. Any mismatch can compromise joint strength.
- Grip length should be slightly less than the combined thickness of materials. This ensures compression.
- Use rivet sets to form symmetrical shopheads and prevent damage to materials.
- Set rivets firmly until the tail breaks at reduced diameter. Avoid damage from excessive hammering.
- Stagger rows of multiple rivets evenly to distribute stress across joint.
- For blind rivets, use flush cutters to trim excess stem material after installation.
- Deburr holes thoroughly to prevent cracks from stress concentrations.
With proper selection and installation, rivets are an extremely versatile and robust fastening solution for CNC work. Their unique benefits make them a staple item for any CNC shop. Understanding the various types of rivets and following best practices will ensure strong, lasting riveted joints in CNC projects. CNC Milling