How design software can help you choose the right plastic fastener

design-for-choosing-plastic-fastener-1In a world where customer satisfaction takes precedence above all else, where competition gets tougher as each day passes, a seemingly little detail like picking the correct faster can play a huge role in the success of any product. The wrong fastener can have severe consequences on the quality of your product, and in a worse case scenario, can even cause your product to fail prematurely.

The Fastener Choice

  1. Determine whether the type of plastic fastener you use will impact the customer or end-user.
  2. Whether the fastener will impact the quality of the product or process.
  3. Whether or not the fastener improves the overall design or functionality of the product.
  4. The cost of the fastener and how it impacts the cost of the product.

The Fastener’s Critical Role

Millions of dollars can go into a new product or project design so dropping the ball on such a small detail, like the type of plastic fastener, the need for a specialized composite coating, a special flange bolting kit, hex nuts or assembly kit can come at a significantly large cost.
You can reduce unexpected repair and replacement costs by focusing on the use of the appropriate plastic or plastic composite fastener for the project. The wrong fastener may lead to:

  • Leakage
  • Shorter product life span
  • Increased labor costs for repair
  • Poor performance of your product or plant

How to Avoid These Issues

When designing your project or product, you’ll want to use a good simulation software program. This allows you to design and create simulations of new products, telling you how they will look and perform under duress. Typically, designers, engineers and innovators use software like Ansys, Abaqus, Comsol, Nastran or other similar types of simulations software to design products and create simulations that test the products durability, temperature distribution fluid movements and electromagnetic properties.

These programs are essentially the go-to design software solutions when you have engineering problems to solve. The use of the appropriate application allows you to meet challenges on time and within budget. More than that it gives you the ability to test the durability and functionality of your design.

But Fasteners Are Often Overlooked

One of the areas often overlooked in the design product is the simulation of the bolted assemblies, especially when an important element of the design process is choosing the right plastic fastener for your new product design.

Simulating Bolted Assemblies

Of course, there are many ways parts are assembled together, but by and large, bolts or screw fasteners are the most useful as they can be taken off when parts need to be disassembled for part replacement, maintenance or repair.

Just as metal bolts, plastic screws also can be used to connect parts that are made of dissimilar materials or when welding is a more difficult option. And often plastic or plastic composites now make a better option because of their strength, durability (they do not oxidize), weight (lighter than metal), food grade & medical grade functionality, and lack of magnetization.

Among the many ways parts can be assembled together, bolts are useful when parts need to be disassembled for maintenance or repair. They can also be used to connect parts made of dissimilar materials when welding is more challenging.

From a design perspective, bolts can be designed and modeled in different ways: from a simple link to fully detailed models of the bolt. This offers a fuller analysis on the reality of the fastening.

The Purpose of Analyzing the Fastener in the Design Process

Just as in a real assembly, a structural analysis model allows you to apply loads as if the product were functioning in its natural environment. This gives you the ability to test stresses and possible future deformations in the model. Basically, when you test your plastic fastener, the stress levels, deformations, resistance to heat or cold, you determine what the best type of fastener for the product really is.

Determining the Challenges You Face in Building Your Model

By testing the plastic bolts, screws and fasteners in a product design software application, you can also see the type of challenges your team will face when it comes time to take the product to manufacture. Primarily, you can better determine the durability of the entire product as well as the costs and times involved in the final manufacturing stage.

The Design Process Challenge

The problem with the analysis of the plastic bolts you use in product design is dealing with the many different types of fasteners needed. You rarely have just one plastic bolt in any produce. In reality, chances are you will have dozens or even hundreds of them, and different sets need different thread, head types and shank sizes.

One of the easiest ways of dealing with this issue in your modeling software is to design a single bolt and then replicate the design setup with all other bolts, making slight thread, head or design adjustments as needed.

Once you upload the geometry, you just need to make the appropriate contacts in your parts. Just ensure that you add the appropriate properties for parts and bolts. For example, you need to specify whether you need plastic bolts to be frictionless or have a given friction coefficient. Group your bolts or plastic fasteners in such a way that you can identify them later as you continue to make changes in the design.

Choosing plastic fasteners with design software

Two Sides to Your Design Process

You want to plan on making two sides of your simulation process. One where you apply the fasteners to the assembly in their pretension or fasten position. And the second is to apply loads when the plastic bolts are in their locked position.

The first design helps you study all facets of the assembly of the product, and the second is to analyze the working behavior of the product under realistic load stress.

Here is a tutorial that shows you the bolt connection design process:

Looking for plastic fasteners on your next project?

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