Fasteners are some of the most important elements of an aircraft, serving to secure parts together to form robust and reliable assemblies. Depending on the assembly in question, its various requirements, and environmental conditions, there are a number of specialized fasteners that may be used. For sections such as the airframe, fasteners like solid shank rivets are useful for their ability to create permanent attachments with ample strength so that they can undertake various stressors. Solid shank rivets typically require access to both sides of an assembly for installation, meaning that they are harder to use where space and access is restricted. For such sections, there is a solution in the form of specialized rivets known as blind rivets, and we will discuss them in more detail.
Also known as blind fasteners, blind rivets get their name from the fact that they have a head that is installed in an area that cannot be seen, thus they are “blindly” installed. While some models may vary, the most basic design of a blind rivet is to have a tubular body with a fixed head on one side of a hollow sleeve. Similar to standard rivets, the installation process for a blind rivet starts with passing the component through a preformed hole in a surface. Within the core of the fastener is a stem, and this stem can be drawn out with the use of a pulling-type rivet gun when the rivet is placed within a hole. As the stem is drawn, it enlarges or becomes serrated on the exposed end. Through expansion, the inner sheet is pressed upward and closes the space between it and the outer shape while the lower end enlarges. By clamping or clenching the sheets of metal, the blind rivet is effectively secured in a permanent fashion, all while being installed from a single side.
While rivets are extremely beneficial for areas where access is only possible from a single side, they are known for having slightly less optimal locking characteristics when compared with a standard driven rivet. As a result, they are generally only used in areas where high strength is needed but access is restricted. With their lower locking ability, blind rivets should not be installed in fluid-tight areas, intake sections where loose rivets may enter the engine, or on any aircraft control surface, hinge, bracket, wing fitting, etc. Even for something like a metal repair for the aircraft airframe, blind fasteners may not be used unless specific authorization is given by the airframe manufacturer or a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) representative.
While blind rivets first came about in 1940, they have since changed with the release of various alternate designs, new capabilities, and more. Currently, the most common types of blind rivets that are in use include friction-lock and mechanical-lock blind rivets. If you are assembling various aircraft structures and require top-quality blind rivets and other types of fasteners that you can steadily rely on, look no further than NSN Target.
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