Surface Mount Fastener Advancement

Surface mount fasteners have great importance on circuit boards and processes involved with circuit boards.  When problems come up in manufacturing with stability, mounting, etc. of circuit boards solutions begin to be looked into by engineers.  The result? They have come up with advancements in surface mount fasteners that you can learn about in the article below.

Surface mount fasteners go with the flow

by Leon M. Attarian, PennEngineering

Switching to surface mount spacers reduces hardware requirements and simplifies installation.

Application challenge: One of Penn Engineering’s manufacturing customers was constantly experiencing production delays for an application where printed circuit boards were mounted to daughter boards in a line card for optical fiber telecom equipment. Line cards are modular electronic circuits designed to fit on a separate printed circuit board and interface with a telecommunications access network. Board mounting was performed using four standard hexagonal pillars and eight sets of screws and washers to secure both boards. But high parts counts and related issues persistently slowed production, due to the tedious process of manually handling and installing the fasteners. There had to be a better way.

Application solution: Designers specified four surface mount spacers to replace the pillars, screws and washers. The surface mount fasteners install onto printed circuit boards in the same way as other surface mount components and require no handling. As a result of the switch to surface mount hardware, the customer reduced total parts count by half and increased the production process by more than 50% thanks to the newfound installation expediency.

Surface mount fastening technology has come a long way with more fastener types and functions. Regardless of type, surface mount fasteners will install permanently onto a printed circuit board using existing production infrastructure. By surface mounting a fastener to a board, designers can achieve significant cost savings without compromising the performance of a design. Fasteners fed on a tape and reel, assembled with pick-and-place equipment, and reflowed alongside other electronic components ultimately offer the potential to save handling time and money and reduce the possibility of board quality failures, which sometimes can occur as an offshoot of working with other kinds of hardware.

Risky business
When specifying hardware for printed circuit board applications, many designers may still find themselves turning either to loose fasteners or broaching fasteners. While both fastening families can provide the necessary functions, each carries potential risks that may impact the production process, the integrity of boards, and even whether disassembly can be performed should it be required.

Loose hardware typically specified for boards includes spacers (plastic or metal columns to offset two boards), nuts and screws, which will usually require secondary installation-related operations performed manually. These secondary operations can consume considerable time, due to the painstaking work necessary to align all parts, often on both sides of a board. Then, with installation completed, another step must be taken to safeguard that no loose parts have gone missing in the assembly, since the errant parts could rattle or—even worse—cause shorts or end-product failures. Disassembly can also be an issue, since the loose hardware needs to be contained.

Broaching fasteners, such as spacers and nuts, remove the issues associated with handling loose hardware, but improper installation can place boards in jeopardy. These types are designed to broach—installing permanently—by pressing the fastener’s knurled section into a slightly smaller mounting hole in the board, which forces the knurls to cut into the board. Installation usually will be performed after boards have been populated with electronic components.

Unfortunately, if the broaching fastener installation process is performed improperly on a populated board, the board can be subjected to significant stress and likely ruin. Micro-cracks may form to sever traces in any of the board’s multiple layers and boards ultimately may have to be scrapped, along with the pre-existing and pricey onboard components. Board damage can further develop if a broaching fastener is misaligned while being pressed into the mounting hole during installation. This can cause large-scale cracking or breaking of the board.

Surface mount fastening technology removes all the risks and delivers production and quality rewards. The hardware—supplied on tape and reel consistent with SMT automated installation equipment—is positioned where designed while the board is processed and then permanently installed with pick-and-place robotics in the same manner and at the same time as other surface mount components prior to the automated reflow solder process. The fasteners simply become another non-intrusive component on a board. And since the parts are packaged on a tape and reel (neither loose nor dumped into bowls), any chance of mixing the parts with other hardware disappears.

Functionality by design
The portfolio of surface mount fasteners is growing and many types and styles have been engineered, each serving one or multiple purposes. Depending on type, surface mount fasteners can be specified to mount, stack or space boards; attach components to boards; or create right-angle attachment points on boards. Some integrate captive screws—eliminating loose screws and all the related hassles—ideally suiting applications where removal and reinstallation of boards is anticipated.

• Surface mount spacers, nuts and standoffs. These threaded or unthreaded types offer the capabilities to stack, space and attach and can be installed in boards as thin as 0.020 in. (0.5 mm). Reels carry up to 3,500 parts, depending on fastener size. A polyimide patch is supplied to allow reliable vacuum pickup. Fasteners are available either in brass or steel.

• Surface mount captive panel screw assemblies. These fastener assemblies, available in several styles, can be installed in boards as thin as 0.063 in. (1.6 mm) and permit easy removal and reinstallation of boards. They can be provided as a two-piece assembly with a plastic cap or as a spring-loaded, all-metal fastener that is installed preassembled in one piece. The screws can be finger or tool actuated after installation.

• Surface mount right-angle fasteners. These provide an efficient and reliable method to create permanent right-angle attachment points on printed circuit boards as thin as 0.040 in. (1 mm). They provide reusable threads parallel to a board to accommodate a component for mounting 90º to the board. They can serve as viable alternatives to conventional angle brackets or threaded right-angle blocks for attaching board to chassis, chassis to board, or component to board.

The shape of right-angle types readily allows the part to be picked up by a pick-and-place machine without requiring a patch. The fastener is presented in the tape and reel with two small pins downward and the flat portion of the fastener’s head exposed to the pneumatic finger. The two pins at the bottom act as two very small pilots, providing stability and locational accuracy during placement. In addition, a “step” along the bottom allows the solder fillet to be formed along this edge, even while the face of the fastener is flush against an edge of the board. The fastener’s rectangular hole reduces the mass and promotes quicker heating to minimize heat draw away from surrounding components on the board.

Micro solutions
The rapid rise in attachment applications for compact consumer electronic assemblies has led to extremely small “micro” versions of surface mount fasteners for these jobs.

It should be noted that micro fasteners are not simply scaled-down versions of their larger counterparts. Special engineering comes into play. As fasteners are “downsized,” issues relating to tight tolerances and performance values, among others, become magnified and special features engineered into the fastener often become both critical and essential.

As an example of a special feature, micro versions of spacers, nuts and standoffs integrate a unique hex-shaped barrel by design to create a larger solder area for enhanced reliability in service. Variations have added even more function: Tin-plated brass versions offer superior electrical and mechanical attachment points for a board, in addition to fulfilling requirements for spacing, stacking, mounting and attaching components.

Across the board, surface mount fastening technology can help to streamline production and promote reliable attachment of components, equipping designers with more options than ever before and benefiting applications immediately and down the line.


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Women in Manufacturing

Labor intensive jobs are typically thought to be carried out by men.  However, these days more and more women are breaking gender stereotypes and into the manufacturing industry.  Companies are benefiting from this because it opens up a whole new group of applicants and prospects for various jobs.  Read more about women in the industry in the article below.

Frontline: Women Will Help Fill the Manufacturing Skills Gap

Realizing that women are an untapped labor pool for
manufacturers, several companies are undertaking initiatives to recruit
and develop the best female talent.

By Karen Thuermer

According to a Deloitte analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Gallup Survey data,
over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely
need to be filled and that the skills gap is expected to result in two
million of those jobs going unfilled. The Manufacturing Institute
attributes two major contributing factors to this: baby-boomer
retirements and economic expansion. “In addition, the younger
generations have little awareness of the career opportunities available
in modern manufacturing and often their parents, if they have any
perception, have one that is very outdated,” comments Jennifer McNelly,
Manufacturing Institute executive director.

Women can fill this gap. According to McNelly, women represent nearly 47
percent of the total labor force, but only make up 27 percent of the
manufacturing workforce. McNelly stresses that not only do women bring a
diversity of thought to the workforce, they also offer a unique
perspective as consumers. “They are an untapped talent pool,” she says.

McNelly attributes the lack of women entering the manufacturing
workforce to the limited awareness of the diversity of career
opportunities in modern manufacturing today. “People don’t realize that
modern manufacturing provides challenging, fulfilling, and well-paying
careers with opportunity for advancement,” she notes. “In this industry,
you aren’t stuck in one position. You are open to endless
opportunities, whether you’re interested in design, engineering, or even
marketing and business.” Today’s modern manufacturing includes
application of technology, robotics, and new innovation.

Manufacturers are now making it a priority to recruit and develop women.
Jennifer McNelly, executive director, Manufacturing Institute

Three-fourths of the Institute’s respondents in its Women in Manufacturing Study
indicate that they believe that women are underrepresented within their
organization’s leadership team. It also found that the proportion of
women in leadership roles in manufacturing lags behind other U.S.
industries. “However, there are more than enough qualified women out
there,” McNelly says. “Manufacturers are now making it a priority to
recruit and develop women.”

Some Initiatives
Eaton Corp. has introduced three specific initiatives to attract women
to manufacturing: its mentoring program, flexible work, and its Eaton
Resources Groups (ERGs). “One of several ERGs that Eaton has formed is
called WAVE — Women Adding Value at Eaton — which has a strategic focus
on the attraction, advancement, and retention of women,” according to
Cathy Medeiros, vice president of Global Inclusion & Diversity at
Eaton Corp. “WAVE also is focused on providing opportunities for women
at Eaton to connect and collaborate and have a support system,” she

Caterpillar Corp. has a global initiative called Women in Leadership,
which focuses on changing the representation of women at Caterpillar and
in its industry. “To disrupt a traditional mindset of men only in the
heavy equipment and power generation businesses, our programs focus on
three pillars: sponsorship from the top, pipeline building in the
middle, and cultural change from the ground up,” says Kelly Wojda,
Caterpillar Diversity & Talent director.

Caterpillar has a significant focus on recruiting and developing the
best female talent, using relationships with partners like the Society
of Women Engineers, as well as new avenues for reaching female talent
directly via social media. “We are also encouraging more explicit role
modeling from our female leaders who hold a variety of top STEM-related
jobs at Caterpillar,” Wojda says.

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Bolts Have Identities Too

you know bolts have their own identity? If you’ve looked at any bolt
before you have maybe noticed a stamp on the head.  If you have wondered
what it is this short article will give you an explanation on why many
bolts have stamps on them.


Why should you care about the stamp on the head of the bolt?

By Mark Zimmerman Photography by Mark Zimmerman October 5, 2016

determining the meaning of bolt head numbers

Many, but not all bolts,
are stamped with either a number (metric bolts) or a series of lines
(fractional or “American” bolts) indicating their minimum strength or,
more technically, their property class. Besides, the head markings’ most
reputable manufacturers also stamp their trademark in the bolt head so
that it is readily identifiable and traceable. Why aren’t all bolts
stamped? The laws regarding the manufacture of hardware are pretty
vague, and there are lots of ways to get around them. For example,
hardware manufactured to OEM specification isn’t required to be marked.
That’s why there are no indicators stamped into the head of your
swingarm bolt. In another example, if a hardware manufacturer claims his
high zoot chrome plated stuff meets or exceeds a particular OEM
standard and says so in writing, he doesn’t need to actually stamp the
head of a bolt.

why should you care what’s stamped on the head of a bolt? Two reasons;
first if you need to replace a bolt you certainly don’t want to
substitute one that’s weaker than the one you’re replacing. Second, if
you know the property class of a bolt and its diameter, you can
determine the suggested basic torque setting,
even if you don’t have a shop manual handy. Most industrial supply
stores or specialty hardware suppliers will gladly provide a chart that
lists torque settings based on property class, thread pitch and diameter
for a wide range of bolts. For instance, 8mm bolts with a 1.25 thread
pitch are normally available in property class ranges from 8.8 to 12.9.
The higher the number, the stronger the bolt. Depending on their
property class, 8mm bolts can be safely torqued from 19 foot-pounds to
37 foot-pounds. Torque an 8.8 bolt to 37 foot-pounds though, and you’ll
end up with two halves of a bolt, or one that’s so overstressed it may
as well be broken.

the same token, replacing a bolt marked 12.9 with an 8.8 bolt is a
recipe for disaster. The softer 8.8 bolt just isn’t strong enough to
cope with the loads born by the 12.9. Going the other way, replacing a
low grade bolt with a stronger one is generally acceptable although
there are times when a soft bolt is used to cope with certain types of
loads that would shear a harder one.

that you have a basic understanding of bolt head markings there is no
excuse for installing the wrong bolt just “because it fits.” If the bolt
you’d like to replace isn’t marked, or you can’t find one identical to
it, you’ll need a service or parts manual to determine the grade. But if
you do know the property class, replacement is only as far away as your
nearest hardware store.

Read the full article here:

National Industrial Fastener & Mill Supply Expo

If you are attending the 2016 National Industrial Fastener & Mill Supply Expo you will see growth and expansion from previous years.  A new owner of the show has decided to expand options for continuing education.  You can learn about the new programs in the full press release below:

July 13, 2016

The National Industrial Fastener & Mill Supply Expo
Expands Programs in 2016

The National Industrial Fastener & Mill Supply Expo expands
programs to create better connections for exhibitors and attendees;
launches “Rising Star” program.

Los Angeles, CA (7/13/16) – The National Industrial
Fastener & Mill Supply Expo (NIFMSE) is the largest industrial
fastener show in North America. After the recent acquisition by the new
parent company, Emerald Expositions, the show is pleased to announce the
development of three new programs.

Program 1: Partnership Program – Invite Your Buyers

Leveraging a partnership with Feathr, a B2B trade marketing platform,
each participating exhibitor will receive their own landing page to
invite their customers to the show. Through this landing page,
exhibitors will be able to offer their customers a promotion of half off
on their registration fee to attend the show. This program is designed
specifically for exhibitors to invite their customers to visit their
booth with their own “sponsored by” registration page.

Program 2: BYOD “Bring Your Own Distributor” Hosted Program

The BYOD hosted program is designed for exhibitors to nominate
distributors they want to see at the show that have never before
attended. Exhibitors can nominate as many distribution companies as they
want; if the individual company qualifies and is selected, NIFMSE then
will host them on their behalf. Distributors will receive free admission
to the expo, as well as a complementary two-night hotel stay at the
Venetian hotel.

Program 3, Part 1: Rising Star Hosted Program

The “Rising Star” hosted program allows any distributor attending the
current show to nominate an additional colleague within the same
company to accompany them to the show. To qualify, the nominee must:
have never attended or have not attended since 2012, and is not
currently registered for the show. A lucky few will receive a two-night
hotel accommodation at the Harrah’s hotel and free admission to attend
the expo.

Program 3, Part 2: Rising Star Hosted Program

Fastener has also partnered with Young Fastener Professionals
(YFP) to introduce the next generation of fastener professionals to
NIFMSE. The show launched the ‘Young Fastener Professional of the Year’
award this year to recognize and honor a young professional under the
age of forty who’s made significant contributions to the betterment of
the fastener industry.  In addition to the award recognition, NIFMSE
will also be hosting ten new, young fastener professionals to the show
that have never before attended. YFP is very excited about the
collaboration and has already begun promoting the “Rising Star” program
to their community. YFP will be hand-selecting the ten young fastener


About National Industrial Fastener & Mill Supply Expo

Held annually in Las Vegas, NV, the National Industrial Fastener
& Mill Supply Expo is the largest fastener expo in North America.
Since 1981, the event continues to bring together the manufacturers and
master distributors of industrial fasteners, precision formed parts,
fastener machinery & tooling and other related products and services
with distributors and sales agents in the distribution chain. The event
consists of an all-day conference program presented by endorsing
fastener associations and a show floor with more than 600 exhibiting
companies from around the world.


National Industrial Fastener & Mill Supply Expo is owned and operated by Emerald Expositions,
a leading operator of large business-to-business trade shows in the
United States, producing more than 50 trade shows and over 100
face-to-face events in total, including conferences, summits and other
events. Emerald Expositions connects more than 335,000 sellers and
buyers each year and operates within the U.S. in 10 end markets (Gift,
Home, General Merchandise and Manufacturing; Sports & Apparel;
Design; Jewelry, Luxury & Antiques; E-Commerce; Creative Services;
Licensing; Healthcare; Military; and Food).


More information about the National Industrial Fastener & Mill Supply Expo can be found at


Linh Vu, Marketing Director
National Industrial Fastener & Mill Supply Expo
(323) 817-2229

More efficient fasteners

Adhesives have always been crucial. New designs are finding ways to make fasteners and other kinds of adhesives more efficient by making them lighter, small, made out of more readily available substances and potentially easier to work with materials. Check out what this UK based company is offering to the fastener industry.

Lighter, thinner substrate materials including plastics and
composites are being joined more often, in more industries, and in a
wider variety of product assemblies. Although adhesives have
traditionally been used for joining many types of plastics, suppliers
are coming up with new fastening systems, or improving existing ones, to
accommodate engineers’ lighter, thinner, and often smaller designs.

Adhesives or other types of chemical fastening won’t work for a
design if it needs one or more mechanical fixing points, said Matthew
Stevens, managing director of                         UK-based bigHead Bonding Fasteners.
An example of one design that does need fixing points is a carbon fiber
car chassis. “In that case, you also need an additional fixing point
like a nut or something else bolted on to the head,” he said. “That’s
what our bigHead fastener enables: it’s a fixing welded to a head. We’re
actually finding that adhesive companies are coming to us because they
know their customers need fasteners, specifically bonding fasteners.”

Read more at:

Ways to reinvigorate the industry

In a time where so many jobs center around the computer, many kinds of manual labor are no longer in high prevalence but that does not mean that the manufacturing industry is dead. It means that it just needs to be reinvigorated and there are a few simple ways to do so. Check out how below.

U.S. manufacturing
employment has edged up in recent years. New policies could accelerate
job gains and investment in manufacturing.

After a long decline, manufacturing is returning to the U.S. Now it
may be time for U.S. policy makers to give it an extra boost.

The U.S. shed 5.7 million manufacturing jobs from 2000 to 2010-more
than a third of the manufacturing workforce-as companies abandoned
plants and workers in favor of low-cost foreign countries. But in recent
years, manufacturing employment has grown slightly as the auto industry
rebounded and domestic plants became more cost-competitive with those
of other countries where manufacturing expenses have escalated because
of higher wages.

Now researchers, politicians and business leaders are coming forward
with strategies to accelerate job gains and investment in manufacturing.
Their ideas range from pruning regulations that raise the cost and
effort of running a manufacturing operation to imposing a value-added
tax on imports to beefing up training programs so companies have an
easier time finding skilled workers.

Reviving the manufacturing sector won’t be easy-but, these advocates
argue, it’s crucial. Manufacturing is one of the best generators of
wealth for an economy, requiring processes, materials and work skills
that create employment and profits at each step in an assembly.
Countries that don’t make anything eventually start to lose their edge
in research and product development.

“Manufacturing and design drive each other,” says Steven Schmid, an
aerospace and mechanical engineering professor at the University of
Notre Dame. “If you lose one, you’ll lose the other, too.”
The U.S.’s reliance on foreign-made goods provides a conduit for
trillions of dollars to leave the country. The U.S. trade deficit-the
difference between what is imported and what the U.S. exports-amounted
to $500 billion, or about 3% of total U.S. GDP last year.

Read more at:

Boker’s exciting new washers

3-D printing has been an incredible asset to machining and the availability of washers that do not protrude from the finish of a product. Boker is an excellent manufacturing plant that has been introducing some new designs of fasteners to the market that we are extremely excited about. Their convenient and sleek designs make them stand out from the rest.

Minneapolis, MN-May 9, 2016-Boker’s has expanded its
manufacturing capabilities to produce custom finishing washers, giving
assembly applications a more precise, high-quality look and complete
finish. Finishing washers, also referred to as countersunk washers,
provide a flush surface and are custom manufactured in several common
styles including: 90 degree, angle, flanged, un-flanged and rolled

In addition to achieving a secure finished appearance and fit for
fasteners, finishing washers offer additional functionalities,
including: locking, sealing, insulating, load distribution, added
strength and rigidity. This provides a safeguard for continuous

Finishing washers assure a lasting bond that can be easily unfastened
for repair without damage to the substrate. When a proof of concept for
a specific design is needed, Boker’s has 3D printing model

For complete customization, Boker’s offers a wide range of metallic
materials such as low-carbon steel, spring steel, stainless steel,
aluminum, brass, copper and nickel silver. Finishing services include
chrome, nickel and zinc plating, anodizing, polishing, plus more.

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New self clinching fastener technology

At Milcom Supply we are home to all kinds of hard to find fasteners. We love everything about fasteners and are experts on thousands of kinds. We read an article recently about a new design of fastener made by Pen Engineering that is very fascinating and something that could be very useful in many of your home or work related projects. Check it out.

PennEngineering®’s new PEM® VariMountT
fastening system utilizes self-clinching technology and a round steel
or stainless steel base plate that makes for easy assembly when mounting
onto any rigid material or panel, including composites, plastics, and
metals. The pre-installed PEM fastener is permanently attached to the
base plate, allowing for security without additional welding. The size
of the radial holes in the base plates are designed to
accept universally standard diameters of rivets, self-clinching
fasteners, and loose hardware including nuts, bolts and screws. The
assembly can then be fastened or bonded to assorted panel types in a
variety of ways:

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 12.31.27 PM






Mounting methods with PEM® VariMountT fastening system:

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 12.34.31 PM

Features include:

  • Base plate provides generous footprint for surface or mold-in mounting.
  • Radial holes in base plates encapsulate adhesives or molded plastics.
  • Radial holes accept standard sized rivet diameters.
  • Radial holes accept standard sized self-clinching fasteners.
  • Assemblies can be mounted on front or through back of panels.
  • Self-clinching fastener technology permanently holds fastener to base plate.
  • A variety of fasteners are available.

    Read more at:

Women in the fastener industry

many technical and engineering jobs there is a very noticeable lack of
women in the workforce. The same goes for the fastener industry. There
is a new program that is hoping to rectify this and we are very excited
about it. We could always use more women in the field and this is a
great way for women to get the training they need to enter into this
exciting line of work!



Women in the Fastener Industry (WIFI) is
a non-profit organization that provides mentoring, networking and
educational opportunities for women employed in the industrial fastener
industry. Through donations and corporate sponsorships they fund their scholarships and networking events. 

Women in the Fastener Industry invites all
women who are employed in the industrial fastener industry to join them
as a professional network, representing fastener women everywhere. As a
member of WIFI, you will become an advocate for other women within the
fastener industry, assisting with referrals, mentoring and professional
support in addition to having access to networking and educational


Why should you consider joining? Here are some of the great benefits to a membership:



When joining WIFI, you will become eligible for one of the available scholarships:

    • The Ann Wolz Bisgyer Scholarship pays tuition to the Fastener Training Institute, the premier educational institute in the fastener industry.
    • The Edith Cameron Scholarship provides
      funds to travel and attend the annual National Industrial Fastener
      & Mill Supply Expo in Las Vegas, the largest convention in the
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