How Are Solid Shank Rivets Used in Aviation?

Aircraft are held together by a series of structural fasteners which join two or more pieces of metal together. In a Boeing 777, an impressive 1,000,000 fasteners are implemented to construct the 290,000lb aircraft. Of the various fastener types, the most common is the solid shank rivet, accounting for well over 50% of the total components on the plane. In this blog, we will discuss everything you need to know about the solid shank rivet, including its design and installation process.

The solid shank rivet consists of a head, pin, and end piece. Heads may be either countersunk or universal, but in both instances, the diameter is always larger than the hole in which the rivet is being placed. Meanwhile, the pin is the element that extends through the material. Finally, the end piece is attached to another rivet's head during installation, forming a solid joint. Universal heads are the most common among the aviation industry, as they are simple to install and rigid. Unfortunately, this design leaves a protruding piece that may slightly disrupt aerodynamic efficiency. Thus, high-performance aircraft requiring maximal aerodynamic efficiency implement countersunk heads which are flush with the surrounding material when installed.

Like many aerospace components, solid shank rivets are fabricated from aluminum alloys for their strength and inherent corrosion resistance. They may also be produced from titanium for military applications, and occasionally, other alloys are chosen. Additionally, solid shank rivets are made and classified based on one or more professional industry standards, such as NAS, MS, and rarely AN. They are further categorized by other variables, such as length, diameter, material, and head shape.

Solid shank rivets are generally chosen based on the demands placed on the part of the aircraft in which it will be installed. For example, the wings would benefit from the installation of countersunk heads, whereas an interior surface may operate without issue with a universal head. Likewise, the diameter of the rivet should be proportional to the hole in the material it is being installed in. If a small rivet was placed into a large hole, the joint might become dislodged or weakened over time. The opposite is true for a large rivet set into a thin piece of material, which may damage the structure.

Rivet installation begins with calculating the grip length, which is the combined thickness of the two materials meant to be held together. This is critical to know because the rivet must be slightly longer than this to form a "shop head." Another consideration is the strength of the rivet. If an application calls for a particular material type based on its strength, the installer should  not choose a less durable material unless the diameter of the fastener is larger to compensate. Rivets should also be spaced appropriately, with the general rule of thumb being a minimum distance of four times the diameter of the rivet.

Once the correct rivet has been chosen for the application, the installer may drill a hole in the target material using a light power or hand drill. The hole should be as precise as possible, with the highest hole tolerance generally being 0.003 inches greater than the tolerance of the associated rivet. To aid in proper placement, center-punching should also be implemented to prevent the drill from slipping. Once the rivet is appropriately lined up with the hole and bucking bar on the other side of the material, it may be driven with a rivet gun or setting hammer.

When you are in need of high-quality rivets or other aircraft fasteners, ASAP NSN Parts has you covered with one of the industry's largest selections of ready-to-purchase components. Whether you are in search of new, obsolete, or hard-to-find items, our team of experts can help you find exactly what you are looking for and provide you with a quote in 15 minutes or less. Additionally, we provide 24/7x365 AOG support, offering same-day shipping on select in-stock products. Begin the purchasing process today to learn why many customers continually rely upon ASAP NSN Parts to fulfill their operational requirements.


November 18, 2020

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