When engineers design custom fabrications, they have a few standard hardware options to choose from: rivet nuts, PEM nuts, and weld nuts. But what they may not know is that the hardware they select can have a direct impact on factors like cost and lead time.
Believe it or not, hardware installation is one of the biggest bottlenecks at a sheet metal fabrication shop. If a hardware installation process isn’t the right fit for a custom fabrication, the job may require two fabricators instead of one, driving up the cost of a part. In some cases, installing the selected hardware may not even be possible, prompting unnecessary back and forth with the customer and delaying the entire project.
So, how do you know which hardware is right for your custom fabrication? We have a couple simple rules for you to follow.
How to Choose Hardware for Your Custom Fabrication
Here’s the abridged version of what you need to know:
For parts that are big and heavy. . . use manually inserted hardware like rivet nuts or weld nuts.
For parts that are light and easy to handle. . . use pressed-in hardware like PEM nuts, which are installed using automated equipment.
Now for the full-length explanation:
PEM nuts are an excellent solution for light duty applications, including many electronic components. These self-clinching fasteners make for a clean and easy installation with the use of an automated press.
The problem is that engineers often design PEM nuts into big and heavy parts. Fabricators are then stuck finagling these parts into the relatively small press so that they can complete the installation process. Sometimes two fabricators are able to manage it together, but other times the parts just won’t fit at all. Either way, hardware installation eats up an inordinate amount of time—and affects cost as well.
The best way to avoid this fiasco is to use manually inserted hardware, like a rivet nut or a weld nut, instead.
Like PEM nuts, rivet nuts clench the material they’re inserted into. But unlike PEM nuts, they’re inserted using a hand tool. Rivet nuts are extremely versatile, largely because fabricators can install them anywhere on the shop floor without having to use a fixed machine. This type of hardware is great for complex assemblies and heavy parts.
Finally, we recommend weld nuts when customers need the strongest and most reliable hardware option available. Welding hardware into place ensures exceptional durability for big and heavy parts, and as long as customers select manual welding over spot welding, fabricators can complete this process without a machine.
If you need advice selecting the right hardware for your custom fabrication, the experts at Ameritex are always happy to help. Get a quote and we’ll respond to your request within 24 hours.