In industrial settings, the term “hardware” refers to those physical mechanical parts that make up a product or application. This definition includes small, basic parts that are used to fasten, reinforce and/or allow part movement. Hardware devices like nails, screws, bolts and fasteners in general are among the oldest type of hardware. At the very latest, they date back to ancient Egypt. More than likely, though, they were used even before then. The earliest example of the all metal lock and key was discovered in the ruins of Nineveh, the capital city of ancient Assyria. These date back to 870 to 900 AD. Over the past millennia, hardware has revolutionized our society. Quite literally, if it weren’t for hardware like fasteners, you would most likely not be where you are today.
Today, hardware is important in some fashion or another in nearly industry there is, from electronics to medicine to semiconductor to power generation. Often, hardware is broken down into categories. Many fall into the categories of door hardware, gate hardware and builder’s hardware. All of these, particularly builder’s hardware, are important in the automotive, aviation, construction, architecture, residential and furniture industries. Here, hardware is often used to aid in opening and closing applications. It also assists in protection, decoration and convenience in buildings. Specific examples of hardware from these categories include locks, latches and hinges. Another common hardware category is household hardware. Items can fall into this category simply if they can be touched or held by hand. This group includes devices like screws, nuts, washers, wire, chains and locks and keys. In addition, industrial hardware industrial hardware is essential to the functioning of countless assembly, machining and manufacturing processes. Bolts, gears, springs and fasteners are all examples of hardware used as a part of linear actuators, automation equipment and conveyor systems.
Typically, hardware components are constructed from tough metal materials like aluminum, brass, bronze, copper, iron, nickel, steel and stainless steel. For light duty applications, however, you can also request or acquire plastic hardware. Also, for the heaviest duty applications, most manufacturers can construct you a piece of hardware from titanium. Hardware can be found in all shapes and sizes. Depending on what exactly you’re looking for, you get your hardware at an online store like Amazon, at a local hardware store or through a manufacturer. For the best and most personalized results, we recommend that you consult with a reputable hardware manufacturer, such as those listed in the sections below. A good manufacturer will be able to guide you based on your specifications, application governmental and industry standards and budget. Plus, they can create custom hardware made just for your needs. When you’re considering your options, also keep in mind that many hardware suppliers offer in-house inspection. To make sure that your hardware is viable, we recommend choosing one of these suppliers. To find out more about hardware types and hardware manufacturers, peruse the sections below. They outline five major hardware devices: bolts, fasteners, hinges, latches and locks.
Bolts are a type of threaded fastener. They are made from rods and feature a top portion, known as a head. In addition, they are made with external helical (male) threads, also known as ridges. Bolts, or industrial bolts, have many uses in industries like aircraft building, automotive manufacturing, residential and commercial building construction and military vehicle construction. In these industries, they are attached to equipment like allen wrenches, handheld screwdrivers and high pressure drills, in order to hold materials together.
To create these useful fasteners, manufacturers use a series of different processes. These typically processes include cutting, cold forging, thread rolling and coating. Manufacturers use these processes to create bolts that vary from one another in quite a number of different ways. They vary by, for example: head type, pitch diameter (the measure between two ridges) and the major diameter of their external thread.
Bolt heads are usually named after their shape. For example, some of the most common head types include: truss heads, taper heads, pan heads, oval heads, flat heads and binding heads. Bolts as a whole are typically named for either their shape or function. That’s why there are bolts called U bolts, J bolts and anchor bolts.
The term “fasteners” refers broadly to those types of hardware that are used to mechanically join or hold two or more materials together. (Note that items like cable and chains are not considered fasteners because fastening is not their primary function.) Examples of fasteners include screws, nuts and bolts. These are only three of the 500,000 plus fastener types that exist. They come in countless shapes, sizes and types.
It should come as no surprise that fasteners can be used in literally thousands of applications. Among these many applications, some of the items and systems they are used to hold together include: building structures, furniture, cars, airplanes, jewelry boxes and basketball hoops.
Most often, fasteners are made from metal like brass, bronze, steel stainless steel or titanium. Stainless steel fasteners are especially popular in heavy duty applications because stainless steel is both strong and corrosion resistant. Titanium fasteners are the most popular type of fastener in the aerospace industry because titanium is so durable. Some fasteners, though, are made merely of plastic. Plastic fasteners are used for very light duty applications in which strength is not a major factor. They are, for example, often used in the assembly of children’s toys.
Hinges are hardware devices that connect two solid objects and allow these objects to rotate relative to each other. Hinges are important components of cabinets, desks, doors, windows and other large and small structures.
To accommodate the many different structures they serve, hinges are manufactured in a wide variety of configurations and compositions. However, most hinges are composed of a few key parts: the pin, the knuckle and the leaves. The pin is a rod. It holds the other parts of the hinge together. The knuckle is hollow and often cylindrical. It acts as the joint through which the pin is set. Finally, the leaves extend laterally in opposite directions from the knuckle. Usually constructed in pairs, the leaves typically revolve around the pin.
Of all the hinge types, butt hinges and continuous hinges are the most simple. Butt hinges, also known as mortise hinges, are inset into a door and its frame. They usually work in groups of three or four. Continuous hinges, or piano hinges, are usually attached to a piano panel, a box or a door. Just a few of the many other types of hinges include: spring hinges, strap hinges, barrel hinges, butterfly hinges and concealed hinges.
Latches are mechanical devices used in the closing and fastening of doors, windows, cabinets and all other items that can be latched shut. Items like these include firearms, switchblades, chests and boxes, car hoods and even some types of kitchen pots.
To cater to these unique applications, manufacturers can make latches from the material or materials that they deem most appropriate. For more heavy duty applications or applications in harsh environments, manufacturers may choose stainless steel. This is because stainless steel is very strong and very resistant to abrasion and corrosion. For light duty applications that do not require much durability, manufacturers may choose something like brass, which is very attractive, but less strong than stainless steel. The lighest duty latches are made of plastic.
For much of their existence, latches have been used to hold doors in a closed position, but not to actually lock them. That distinction has traditionally been reserved for bolts. Today, however, manufacturers often merge the two pieces of hardware together to create latches that can both fasten and lock. Some common examples of latches used today include: door latches, cabinet latches, paddle latches, gate latches, slam latches, spring latches, deadbolt latches, Norfolk latches and Suffolk latches.
Locks are an old and enduring invention. As we mentioned earlier, the earliest known all-metal example of a lock and key set was found in Nineveh, where it was likely made somewhere between 870 and 900 AD. Both then and today, locks serve as security devices that prevent theft and vandalism. They are used the secure all sorts of items and areas, such as lock boxes, safes, luggage, gates, cabinets and commercial and residential buildings.
Lock manufacturers create locks of all shapes, sizes and configurations. One great example is the deadbolt, which features a heavy bolt, or rounded profile rod piece, that is inserted into a doorframe to hold it shut. Another example is the pin tumbler lock. Pin tumbler locks feature a set of pins that won’t allow the lock to be opened unless the correct key is inserted. The correct key will have grooves on either side of its blades that correspond with obstructions inside the keyway. The key, once inside the keyhole, will move the pins up or down so that the key can turn freely and unlock the lock. To learn more about the world of locks, check out the sites of the lock manufacturers below.