What Are Aircraft Rivets Made Of?

Airplane flying

Rivets are one of the most common types of fasteners used in the production of airplanes. They are designed to permanently join multiple parts. You can find rivets on the fuselage, wings, tail, nose and other places of a typical airplane. While all rivets are permanent fasteners, though, they are available in different materials. What are aircraft rivets made of exactly?

Aluminum Alloy

Aluminum alloy is a common material in which aircraft rivets are made. Aluminum alloy rivets are strong, lightweight and highly resistant to corrosion. These properties make them a popular choice among aerospace manufacturing companies.

Aluminum alloy, of course, is a material consisting primarily of aluminum. Like other alloys, it contains secondary elements, such as copper, magnesium or zinc. These elements are added to aluminum to enhance its physical properties.

The following grades denote aluminum alloy:

  • 1100
  • 2017-T
  • 2024-T
  • 2117-T
  • 5056

Stainless Steel

While some aircraft rivets are made of aluminum alloy, others are made of stainless steel. Stainless steel is also an alloy. It’s an iron alloy, meaning it consists primarily of iron mixed with smaller concentrations of secondary elements.

Stainless steel rivets offer a superior level of resistance to rust and corrosion. They are commonly used in conjunction with stainless steel aircraft parts. To join two or more stainless parts, manufacturers may use stainless steel rivets.

Mild steel is commonly used for aircraft rivets. Mild steel is a type of low-carbon stainless steel. It contains about 0.05 to 0.3% carbon. It’s a small concentration of carbon, but even at these levels, the carbon changes its properties. Carbon makes steel stronger — and strength is an important characteristic for aircraft rivets.


There are even copper aircraft rivets. They are permanent fasteners that, like all other rivets, are used to permanently join two or more parts. Copper rivets are simply made of copper. With their copper construction, they are strong, corrosion resistant and long-lasting.

Copper rivets aren’t as common as aluminum alloy and stainless steel rivets. Most aircraft rivets are made of either aluminum alloy or stainless steel. Nonetheless, you can still find some rivets made of copper.

In Conclusion

In the aerospace manufacturing industry, using the right fasteners is important. Fasteners will be exposed to both environmental stress and vibrations. Over time, these elements can cause them to fail. Fortunately, rivets can withstand the environmental stress and vibrations of airplanes. Some of the most common materials in which aircraft rivets are made include aluminum alloy, stainless steel and copper.

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