Imagine a piece of machinery or heavy equipment failing to function properly just because a few bolts rattled loose due to vibration or strip during service. It might seem impossible, but threaded fastener failure is one of the many reasons for mechanical failure that often goes unnoticed until it’s too late.
If you’re working with heavy machinery and equipment, chances are, you’ve dealt with this type of issue more often than you recall. So while there are many reasons for mechanical failure in heavy machinery, it’s important to acknowledge that a simple threaded fastener failure is the one on top of that list.
In this article, we will talk about what threaded fastener failure is and how to prevent it. We will also discuss the catalysts that can lead to threaded fastener failure. By understanding these issues, you can stay diligent in providing maintenance and avoid threaded fastener failures.
What is Threaded Fastener Failure
Threaded fastener failure results from a bolt’s threading becoming stressed or misaligned due to constant vibrations during use. It causes gaps between the threads that encourage more movement. Eventually, this constant movement leads to the deformation and dislocation of the fastener.
Maintenance technicians are responsible for catching warped fasteners before total failure. However, it’s quite common for stressed fasteners to snap before anyone notices the deformation.
A snapped threaded fastener might not seem like a big deal, but it can cause extensive damage to the machinery it was holding together. In some cases, it might even cause the entire machinery to malfunction.
Causes of Threaded Fastener Failure
Several catalysts cause threaded fastener failures. Knowing and understanding each cause is important for mitigating future failures and anticipating when this problem occurs with existing bolts in your machinery.
Vibration is by far the leading cause of threaded fastener failure. Loose bolts not secured tightly are subject to wiggling and rattling over time. The constant movement causes the threads to become misaligned and stressed. This gradual wear on threads creates even larger gaps that result in damage and eventual failure.
Manufacturing Error is another leading cause of threaded fastener failure. This usually happens during the threading process when the bolt isn’t cut correctly. As a result, the threads are either too weak or not cut evenly. This type of error is often difficult to spot and goes unnoticed until it’s too late.
Poor installation is an operator error that leads to threaded fastener failure. This usually happens when the bolt is not installed correctly or overtightened. Both cases put too much stress on the threads, which can cause them to warp or snap.
Mismatched hardware happens when a nut that’s too big or too weak complies with the bolt. This often happens when the maintenance team is in a hurry to fix machinery, and they don’t have the right tools or hardware on hand. As a result, they make do with whatever they have, which can cause threaded fastener failure.
Embrittlement is a type of threaded fastener failure that’s caused by corrosion. When bolts are constantly exposed to moisture and other corrosive elements, it can cause the metal to weaken and break down. This type of threaded fastener failure is often difficult to spot because it happens gradually over time.
Any one of these catalysts is more than enough to cause threaded fastener failure over a long enough time period. Unfortunately, one problem paves the way for another to rise, which can rapidly expedite the time of your machinery to succumb to failure.
Preventing Threaded Fastener Failure
Diligent maintenance is a great way to stay on top of threaded fastener failure. Regularly inspecting your machinery can spot potential problems early on and prevent them from becoming bigger issues.
However, with striation marks or worn threading being hard to spot, it’s up to maintenance managers to determine fail-safe solutions that directly address the potential catalysts to failure. With that said, here are three proven solutions to preventing threaded fastener failure:
Thread locking is a simple and quick solution to dealing with microscopic threading gaps. In addition, maintenance technicians can apply this type of adhesive directly to bolts to create a durable thermoplastic cure after fastening the bolt.
Thread locking eliminates any gaps by following them, eradicating any vibration issues. Remember to reapply the thread-locking agent every few months as it can slowly degrade over time.
Over torquing is the process of applying extra torque to threaded fasteners. This is often done by using a power tool to achieve the desired level of tightness.
Over torquing is an effective solution to prevent failure because it creates a stronger grip that can resist any vibrations. However, too much torque can also lead to failure, so it’s important to find the right balance.
Undercutting is a process where the threads on the bolt are cut at an angle. This gives the threaded fastener a tighter grip that can resist vibration or wear and tear.
Undercutting is a great solution to prevent threaded fastener failure, but it’s important to note that it can only be done during manufacturing. This means it’s not a viable solution for threaded fasteners that have already been installed.
Thread-sealing tape is a type of polytetrafluoroethylene that’s similar to thread locking. However, it doesn’t offer the same expansion properties as the thermoplastic cure.
Why Use DATAMYTE?
DATAMYTE is a data and quality management tool that offers hardware and software that helps you collect accurate measurements in real-time. This is important because it lets you immediately identify any issues with your threaded fasteners.
DATAMYTE’s torquing products measure and record static and dynamic torque to ensure that your threaded fasteners are properly tightened. Additionally, the DataMyte Digital Clipboard is a workflow automation software that provides tools that helps create workflows and generate detailed reports that can be easily shared with your team.
If you’re looking for a way to prevent threaded fastener failure, DATAMYTE is the perfect solution. Request a demo today to see how our products can help you.
When it comes to threaded fastener failure, prevention is key. Understanding the catalysts and using the right solutions can effectively prevent failure and keep your machinery running smoothly.
By using DATAMYTE, you can understand the causes, remain diligent in your maintenance, prevent failure, and keep your machinery running smoothly. Try DATAMYTE today! Book a demo now.