FTM 167: What’s blind about a blind rivet?

FTM 167: What's blind about a blind rivet?

This edition of the Fastener Training Minute with Carmen Vertullo was originally published August 12, 2021 as “…there’s something about blind rivets that most people misunderstand or believe that’s not true necessarily” during episode 167 of Fully Threaded Radio.

Well, hi everybody. This is Carmen Vertullo with your Fastener Training Minute coming to you from the Fastener Training Institute and the AIM Testing Laboratory in the beautiful El Cajon, California.

Today’s topic comes as a result of an upcoming webinar, or probably an already produced and seen webinar, from the Fastener Training Institute’s series on Fastener Basics. That webinar topic is blind rivets, and there’s something about blind rivets that most people misunderstand or believe that’s not true necessarily. And when we come back I’m going explain to you what that little piece of information is that might totally turn your opinion around about how you think of blind rivets.

If you had an opportunity to watch our blind rivet Fastener Basics webinar, you already know this. And if you didn’t have an opportunity to watch it, go to the Fastener Training Institute website and look up the Fastener Basics. Webinar. Watch that Rivets webinar. Well, it turns out for this particular webinar, we’re going to be focusing on blind rivets and some other blind fasteners as well. And we have some help from our sponsors. Brighton Best International is going to give us some rivets and some hand tools and Goebel Fasteners has given us some power tools to use.

Electric rivet tools, pneumatic rivet tools and a nut setting tool. So you’ll get to see those demonstrated in that webinar. I’ve actually thought about blind rivets incorrectly over the years, and the wisdom is that blind rivets are most appropriate to be used when we have an assembly that is not going to be taken apart. In other words a permanent assembly is with a nut and a bolt or a nut and a screw or a screw into a tapped hole. We can disassemble the thing pretty easily with some tools. And so if you desire to be able to disassemble, whatever it is, you’re putting together, you shouldn’t be using blind rivets.

Well, that is completely, not true. And I’ll tell you how I learned it back in the day before my fastener career.
I was designing and building test equipment for the tomahawk cruise missile. There was some electronic things in there and we made these chassis that were about the size of a microwave oven. They were made out of aluminum panels and sheets and extrusions with a bunch of circuit board stuff inside them, and the design was such that all these aluminum parts would get a coating on them called Chem Film or chemical film. And then we would assemble them all together temporarily with screws and nuts. Probably about #8 or #10 size Hardware. Then, we would send that assembly out and get it powder-coated. It looked good. I was so proud of them. They would look state-of-the-art today. If you saw them in this was in the 1980s.

Then they would come back and we would disassemble them, put all the electronics in, and put them back together with new hardware. And sometimes that disassembly was a pain because the powder coat would get in the threads of the screw. Later on, we learned how to use acorn cap nuts to keep that from happening. But nevertheless it was a hassle, taking them apart. And sometimes it’s the tool would slip and you scratch the powder coat. Anyway, I wondered, why don’t we just put these together with blind rivets, and then we’ll drill the rivet out. So that’s what we did, and we discovered that first off the rivets went together 10 times faster and they took just about the same amount of time to drill the head off of the rivet as it took to remove the screw and it was much safer.

And so my point is to tell you is that rivets are not just a solution to an assembly problem when you want it to be permanent. You can remove a rivet very quickly and easily with a drill and replace it much quicker than you can a screw and nut with the proper rivet tool.

So, stop thinking about rivets as a solution to an assembly problem when the assembly is permanent. We know this also from how airplanes are built. The skin of an airplane in most cases is held on with rivets not screws. And those rivets are regularly drilled out and replaced in order to remove a panel for an inspection or if it’s damaged. And it is not a problem to replace a riveted assembly.

So that’s my lesson for the day. You may disagree, but I’m just telling you my opinion is that we can use rivets, even if the assembly is meant to be disassembled and reassembled in the future.

Well, that’s your Fastener Training Minute. This has been Carmen Vertullo. Thank you for listening.

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