What Are Self-Piercing Rivets and How Do They Work?

Airplanes contain other types of fasteners besides bolts and screws. While threaded fasteners such as these are common, many airplanes also contain rivets. Rivets are permanent fasteners that, unlike most threaded fasteners, are resistant to vibrations.

Rivets are used to secure and hold multiple parts together. Depending on the specific type of rivets, though, a precut hole may or may not be required. There are self-piercing rivets that don’t require the use of a precut hole.

What Are Self-Piercing Rivets?

Self-piercing rivets are permanent fasteners that are designed to secure two or more parts together without the use of a precut hole. They are also known as metal-piercing rivets because they are typically used in conjunction with sheet metal. Self-piercing rivets can pierce through multiple pieces of sheet metal. In doing so, they’ll hold the pieces of sheet metal together.

How Self-Piercing Rivets Work

Self-piercing rivets work by piercing the surface of the parts with which they are used. To install a self-piercing rivet, you’ll need to place it — along with the pieces of sheet metal — between a punch and die set. The die, of course, should be underneath the self-piercing rivet. The punch should be on top of the self-piercing rivet. As the punch presses down on the self-piercing rivet, it will force the rivet through the underlying sheet metal.

When the self-piercing rivet exits the back of the last piece of sheet metal, it will expand. The sides of the self-piercing rivet will expand around the back of the sheet metal. As a result, the sheet metal pieces will be secured to each other. The self-piercing rivet will hold all of the sheet metal pieces together.

Self-Piercing Rivets vs Traditional Rivets

Of course, there are other types of rivets. Only self-piercing rivets, however, are able to pierce through sheet metal on thier own. Other types of rivets typically require a precut hole. You can’t just force them through sheet metal. Rather, traditional rivets require a precut hole.

With a traditional rivet, you’ll have to cut a hole in the sheet metal beforehand, after which you can insert a rivet into the hole. Self-piercing rivets eliminate the need for a precut hole. As long as you have a punch and die set, you can install self-piercing rivets. They’ll pierce into sheet metal on their own, making them quick and easy to install. There are many different types of rivets, but only self-piercing rivets are able to pierce through sheet metal without a precut hole.

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