Riveting in Sheet Metal(sheet metal rivets Barlow)

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Rivets have been used since ancient times to join pieces of metal together. Today, riveting remains an important metal fastening technique, especially for joining sheet metal. Rivets create strong, permanent joints while allowing the metal sheets to flex and move.
What is a Rivet?
A rivet is a short cylindrical rod with a head on one end. The rod is inserted through pre-drilled holes in the materials being joined. The tail end is then hammered or pressed to form another head. This process is called riveting. The rivet heads on both sides grip the materials together tightly so they cannot pull apart.
Rivets are often used with sheet metal, which is metal formed into thin, flat pieces less than 6mm thick. The ductility and thinness of sheet metal means it can be challenging to join using other fasteners like screws or bolts. Rivets are ideal for creating strong sheet metal joints.
Common Rivet Types
There are several types of rivets used for different applications:
- Solid/Round Head Rivets: These are one of the most common rivets. They have a dome-shaped head and are versatile for many uses.
- Countersunk Head Rivets: The head is flat and sits flush with the surface of the metal. This gives a smooth, finished look.
- Large Flange Rivets: They have a wide flange under the head that helps distribute force. Used for joints that undergo stress and vibration.
- Split Rivets: They have a shaft that splits during installation to form the second head. Allows riveting without access to the back side.
- Blind Rivets: Like split rivets, but have a built-in stem that pops off after driving the rivet. Used for fastening multi-layered materials.
Rivet Materials
Rivets come in a variety of materials:
- Aluminum: Corrosion resistant, lightweight, and strong. Common for aircraft and marine applications.
- Steel: Very strong but prone to rusting. Often zinc-plated or coated to prevent corrosion. Used widely in construction and industrial settings.
- Monel: A nickel alloy that maintains strength at high temperatures. Used in demanding environments like chemical plants.
- Copper: Used for plumbing and electrical applications. More expensive but long-lasting.
- Plastic/Polymer: Lightweight and will not corrode. Suitable for less critical joints.
How to Rivet Sheet Metal
Riveting sheet metal takes some practice to master. Here are the basic steps:
1. Cut rivet holes - The holes are cut or punched through the layers of sheet metal to be joined. They should be slightly larger than the rivet diameter to allow it to slide through freely.
2. Insert rivet - The rivet shaft is fed through the aligned holes. The rivet head should rest against the top layer of material.
3. Use a bucking bar - A steel bar is held against the rivet tail to act as a rigid support. This creates the force needed to flare the tail.
4. Hammer the rivet - Strikes from a rivet hammer or rivet gun flare out the tail, forming the second head. The force spreads the rivet tail, locking the rivet in place.
5. Inspect the rivet - Ensure the rivet head is tightly flush against the material. The split tail should also be fully spread and locked into place.
6. Finish flush - File or grind any uneven or excess rivet material so the rivet heads are flush with the sheet metal surface.
Pneumatic rivet guns allow quicker and more uniform riveting than hammering by hand. Using specialty bucking bars and rivet setters also improves the process and joint quality.
Rivet Strength and Applications
Properly installed rivets form very strong, permanent joints. Riveting provides reliable performance in demanding environments where vibration, shock loads, and stress canloosen other fasteners.
Common applications for rivets in sheet metal include:
- Aircraft fuselages and wings
- Truck and trailer bodies
- Railroad cars and shipping containers
- Building facades and architectural features
- Ducting and mechanical housings
- Machinery guards and covers
- Consumer products like furniture, electronics, storage containers
Riveting remains a trusted method for assembling sheet metal because it simplifies fabrication. Parts can be riveted together on-site without complex tools or welding. The joints also allow some flexibility and movement.
From ancient armor to modern skyscrapers, rivets deliver reliable sheet metal connections. Advances in tools have made the riveting process faster and easier than ever. This classic fastening technique continues to be an essential part of industrial and manufacturing assembly. Whether done by hand or high-tech machinery, riveting sheet metal remains a go-to method for durable, high-strength joints. CNC Milling CNC Machining