Fasteners can be made in one of three ways. The method that most people are familiar with is molding, in which metal bits are heated and formed into shape. Another method involves cutting, where fasteners are cut onto shape with automated factory tools. The third option is cold forming, which occurs when metal is sent through a set of machines that include die casts and other shape-making components.
Cold Forming for Different Types of Fasteners
Out of all the options for making fasteners, cold forming services are generally considered the fastest to execute, as well as the most efficient in terms of cost and metal savings. As such, the method has grown in popularity among makers of different types of fasteners. Today, micro cold forming services are used in producing the following kinds of fasteners:
Nails are one of the most widely used fasteners for everyday projects. In fact, a hammer and a box of nails is a mainstay of most households. Nails are generally used to make small wooden fixtures, such as boxes and frames. Among people with little experience in woodwork, it's often assumed that nails are used to bond wood panels in larger objects, such as furnishings and architectural structures, but this is generally not the case with conventional nails.
While the use of conventional nails is best suited to smaller items, nails are sometimes useful as a holding fastener for light panels of otherwise heavier objects. For example, the panels of a drawer will usually be bonded by screws, but nails will be used to hold the thin, back panel into place.
Nails are relatively simple in shape, as they consist of a flat head at one end and a diamond tip at the other. Despite this simplicity, the formation of a nail involves complex industrial processes. Among manufacturers of fasteners, it's often argued that the cold forming method is the easiest and most efficient way to produce nails.
When nails are produced by cold forming companies, each nail is sent through a process where strips of metal wire are fed into a machine. The wire is cut at measured lengths to suit the batch of nails in question. These smaller bits are then slotted, one by one in single file, down a diamond-point diecast along a conveyer. From above, a blow punches down on each passing metal bit, and this forms the nail head.
Nails are an applicable fastener that people with little woodworking experience can use on household fixtures. That said, regular nails are not the strongest or most reliable of fasteners. For larger, heavier and more serious projects, different types of fasteners are generally more appropriate.
2. Brad Nails
A variant of the regular nail is the brad nail, which is longer and boasts a smaller top. Whereas conventional nails are generally used for smaller projects, brad nails are often applied with pneumatic tools. As such, brad nails are common for indoor trimmings and outdoor projects. For cold forming companies, the process through which brad nails are made is similar to that of the regular nail, but with different molds in the die and blow.
Brad nails are often the preferred fastener for trimmings along the edges of walls and doorways. Thanks to the small size of the head, a brad nail is more inconspicuous than a regular nail. For aesthetic reasons, this make brad nails preferable along trimming because the heads go into the board, and are therefore difficult to spot in passing. Regular nails, by contrast, have wider heads that press around the circumference of the hole from the outside of a given board, and this is not the kind of look that most homeowners desire when it comes to trimmings.
Brad nails are also a suitable fastener for certain structural elements of a house, such as the joists in a ceiling. When ceiling components are made, brad nails might be used to attach the joists, while nuts and bolts are used to attach foundational boards together.
With the convenience of an air-powered nailing tool, brad nails can be useful in the repair of small pieces of interior architecture. For example, if a step along a stairwell needs to be changed out, brad nails can be used to fasten the new step into place. Similarly, when kitchen cabinets are being built or repaired, brad nails make it easier to fasten trimming and shelves to the overall support structure.
Compared to nails, screws are often considered to be the more secure of fastening options. However, the truth is somewhere in the middle. On the plus side, screws have threading that can hold a board more securely into place than a nail. But whereas nailed boards have the disadvantage of being pliable, screws can also be problematic. If a screw is overly tightened, for instance, the thread could end up stripping the screw hole. When this happens, the hole must be patched and recreated elsewhere, and this can leave aesthetically unpleasing evidence.
Due to the variety of designs and sizes, screws are one of the most diverse cold formed fasteners. At one end is the head of the screw, which most often features either a Phillips cross or a straight slot. Along the shaft is the thread, and at the other end is the sharp tip. As one might expect, the process through which screws are cold formed is more complex than that of nail production.
The process starts with the feeding of metal wire into a complex set of machines. First, the wire is cut into uniform lengths, each of which are shifted under a series of blow punches that form the shape of the head. Finally, the shaft is given its tip and thread.
Screws are made in numerous lengths, with some boasting more pronounced threads than others. Screws are also made from various different metals, but those of the stainless variety are generally best for outdoor fixtures. When two boards are screwed together, it's best if the screw doesn't come out through the other side of the second board. Of the different kinds of screws that are used for household woodworking, the most suitable are deck screws and lag screws.
4. Deck Screws and Lag Screws
Screws in general are for outdoor projects, such as decks and outhouses. True to name, deck screws are most suitable for applying boards to decks. Even though the support beams to a deck are best fastened with nuts and bolts, the decking and riser boards are easiest to apply with screws. Likewise, the posts that support the deck benches might be bolted to the support beams, but the actual deck boards could easily be screwed into place. Deck screws can also be used for the construction of smaller outdoor fixtures, such as bird houses.
For large outside structures that consist of thick lumbers, the best type of fastener is the lag screw, which has a thicker head and longer shaft. Lag screws are ideal for the construction of tree houses, which need the security of strong fasteners to keep all the boards safely attached to the trunk and branch of a tree. With the long shafts and thick, threaded circumference of a suitably sized set of lag screws, the floors, walls and support beams of a tree house can remain safely in place for many years.
Lag screws are also ideal for pergolas and arbors. For a pergola, lag screws can securely fasten overhead cross beams to the main beams. On an arbor, lag screws will secure the lattice panels to each side. Lag screws can even be used for the construction of swing sets and other outdoor play structures. As such, lag screws are one of the most outdoor-handy cold formed fasteners.
Some of the more heavy-duty woodworking jobs call for bolts, which are threaded like screws but not for the same reason. Whereas screws are threaded to lock grooves with the wood that lines the pilot hole on a board, bolts are threaded to screw tight with nuts at the other end of any setup in which two boards are fastened. Nuts and bolts can also be unscrewed from one another, which makes bolts convenient for structures that eventually need to be dismantled.
The process through which bolts are cold-formed is similar to that of the screw, except for the fact that bolts lack tips at the end. In fact, there's no need for a tip, since bolts aren't used to drill the actual pipe hole. Instead, a hole is created in the wood with an electric or air-powered drill. Unlike with other fasteners, the pipe hole for a given set of bolts should be wider than the bolts themselves, because the hole serves not so much a holding function as a means for the bolts and nuts to join.
Bolts are used in most projects that require support beams, such as with the underlying frames of decks and benches. In houses, bolts are used to hold most of the main boards together, such as the beams that form the frame of the attic. Though obscured by drywall, bolts are also used to secure boards inside of wall cavities.
Bolts are also the most ideal fastener for a range of furniture items. Under a dinner or coffee table, the legs and support beams are likely bonded with nuts and bolts. Under the dining chairs, a similar use of bolts is most often found. Bolts are also used in sofas, but they're usually not seen due to the upholstery.
6. Toggle Bolts
When bolts are needed along a surface where there's no way to access the other side, toggle bolts provide a convenient alternative to the nut and bolt combo. The toggle bolt consists of a toggle attached to the thread of a bolt. When the bolt is sent through a board or piece of drywall, the toggle activates once it reaches the other side. Thanks to a spring-activated function, the toggle opens like wings to clamp the surface at the other end, and thus functions similarly to a bolt.
Toggle bolts are most useful on drywall because the bolt gets braced inside the cavity, which wouldn't be possible with any other fastener. This can be useful for attaching heavy objects to a wall, such as large mirrors and framed pictures. Toggle bolts can even offer enough support to hang fixtures on a wall that many people would otherwise assume to be too heavy, such as book shelves.
At factories where cold forming services are performed, the process that goes into making toggle bolts is slightly more complex because of the toggle piece. Basically, the bolt and toggle have to be made separately and then put together. Each bolt is made with dies and blows that shape the head and thread from a measured stretch of metal. The toggle is separately produced in its own die cast, and then attached to the bolt during a further stage of the process.
7. Wall Driller
Wall drillers are basically small screws that are meant to be drilled straight into a surface with no pilot hole. Though the wall driller is short in length, the threads are pronounced and the tip is serrated. As such, wall drillers can sink all the way into a piece of drywall and stay fastened, thanks to the extreme grooves of the thread. Walls drillers often have hook hangers attached at the head, which has made this fastener popular for home decoration.
A wall driller could be the preferable alternative to regular screws and bolts. While the average screw could easily strip the hole at a given spot of drywall, a wall driller is harder to over-screw because of its short length. Once the driller goes in, it's difficult to simply pull out. Wall drillers can be used to support mirrors, pictures, lightweight bookshelves and various other nighttime fixtures.
Out of all the different types of cold formed fasteners, the process that goes into wall drillers is none-too complicated thanks to the simplicity of the design. Basically, small yet measured pieces of metal are dropped into dies at one end and punched with blows at the other. Once the thread, point and head have taken shape, the wall driller might then be affixed with another piece, such as hooks for the hanging mirrors.
Contact STS Intelli for Cold Forming Expertise
Whether you produce nails, screws or bolts, the production of fasteners requires efficiency and strength above all else. You want to produce fasteners as quickly as possible, but you also want to ensure that they are strong – a structure is only as strong as its smallest part. Like any modern day manufacturer, you should also strive for keeping overhead costs down and improving eco-friendliness in the products you make and sell. Cold forming fits the bill on all fronts.
Cold forming makes it possible to produce fasteners quickly with little overhead, and cold forming fasteners are also more environmentally friendly because less toxins and waste are produced in the whole project. To learn more about what STS Intelli can offer in terms of cold forming expertise, contact us to request a quote today.