Choosing the Best Bolt
According to Frederick E. Graves of The Scientific American, a refrigerator has 275 bolts, a fork-lift has 940, a car has 3,500, and a jet plane has 1.5 million. Essentially, the world is held together with bolts.
But what is a bolt? Graves says it’s a “cylindrical, externally threaded fastener with a head.” Unlike a screw, though, a bolt is meant to be used with a nut rather than in tapped holes. A bolt may be threaded or half-threaded. The head can be be square, hexagonal, round, countersunk, elliptical, or oval. Finishes vary. Materials vary.
This variation is important: there are as many types of bolts as there are applications for those bolts. Therefore, depending how corrosion-resistant a bolt needs to be, it could be made from zinc-coated steel, mechanical-galvanized steel, hot-galvanized steel, or numerous other finishes. Some bolts are designed for to be exceptionally hard or heat resistant, which is why they may be made of carbon or heat-treated steel, alloy steel, all-stainless steel, brass, aluminum, or other materials.
This variation may seem excessive for something as simple as a bolt, but consider a situation: a new restaurant is being constructed near a lake. The building has a concrete foundation, and the contractors are choosing between various kinds of bolts.
They won’t choose an aluminum bolt – aluminum may be light, but it is also not strong enough for concrete. They also won’t choose an uncoated bolt, since concrete near a lake will certainly have moisture. In the end, they choose ½” diameter, hot-dipped, galvanized wedge anchor bolts. These are designed to be used in hard concrete. The hot-dipped galvanizing means that these bolts are more rust-resistant. Also, since they are larger in diameter, these bolts have a higher holding value, also important in a building foundation. Each feature of the bolt is customizable for this particular task.
This may seem complex, which is why you will need to conduct a complete analysis to determine what bolt is appropriate for your needs. A program like BOLTCALC can help in these instances. Another option is to simply describe your needs to a manufacturer and get some recommendations.
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