Why Are Aircraft Riveted?

Rivets are an important fastening component for the assembly and structure of any aircraft. Rivets are metallic cylindrical shafts featuring a head and a tail, the latter being passed through a hole between components. When the tail is inserted into the hole, it is deformed with a pneumatic rivet gun to expand its diameter, creating a head on each side of the attached components and locking the rivet in place to permanently secure them together. Rivets are manufactured to meet specific grades for aircraft, just as many other components of aircraft are as well. 5056, 2117-T, 2024-T, 2017-T, and 1100 are all rivet grades that can be used on aircraft, and aluminum rivets prove to be the most popular. Copper rivets may be utilized too, but they are often reserved for leather or copper materials. With the benefits that rivets bring, many may still wonder why rivets are used instead of other fastening methods or equipment. In this blog, we will discuss some of the alternatives to rivets, and why riveting remains the most popular.

Welding is a process that has been around for a few millennia, with true welding being a utilized manufacturing process since the 1800’s. While welding is a very efficient way of conjoining metals, it lacks some of the benefits that riveting offers, such as easy inspection and maintenance. Inspecting riveting does not require any special tools or procedures, as simple visual inspection can spot any riveting that does not properly secure components together. Most aircraft nowadays are built from aluminum, which suffers from low heat tolerance. This causes aluminum to become weaker in heat, thus risking loss of welding integrity. Because rivets provide strong binding, they prove to be much more reliable and beneficial for aircraft manufacturers over welding components together.

Screws are a popular and simple helical threaded fastener that digs into a material when tightened to secure components of aircraft together. With their thread, pullout of the screw is prevented as it grips the sides of the component or material that it is installed into. Despite this, vibrations and heavy stressors can take their toll on screws, possibly loosening them over time which can be very detrimental for an aircraft in flight. Rivets, on the other hand, cannot be loosened as they fill the hole they are installed into and have a head on each side from the pneumatic rivet gun. Rivets are also more beneficial than screws because they are often lighter in weight.

Composites, such as carbon fiber, are constantly rising in popularity for use in the body and components of an aircraft. With the new Boeing Dreamliner, about half of the composition consists of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is highly beneficial for aircraft construction, as it can be molded into many complex shapes, and has a much greater strength to weight ratio than materials such as steel. While riveting can work with composites, traditional aluminum rivets are not recommended due to aluminum weakening in carbon fiber. To avoid this, titanium rivets can be used, but still pose the problem of weakened composites through drilling.

With their many advantages over a variety of alternatives, rivets prove to be the most reliable and efficient way of securing aircraft components and structures together. At ASAP NSN Hub, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find rivets and other components of aircraft you need, new or obsolete. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at sales@asapnsnhub.com or call us at +1-920-785-6790.


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