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. Learn more about bolts.
Casters are the wheels of industry, although technically, the wheel is only part of the caster assembly. The caster assembly is a wheeled device within a housing or framework used to provide mobility to an otherwise stationary object.
Casters come in many sizes, to accommodate any load capacity. They may be manufactured from a wide variety of materials, may swivel, lock, run on tracks, or work in tandem with other casters. They may be configured as traditional wheels or as bearings that facilitate smooth and/ or multidirectional movement. Some casters are designed to absorb shock.
Rolling chairs and grocery carts are perhaps the most familiar use of casters. They are found on heavier appliances, such as refrigerators and freezers, and on lighter furniture, such as tea carts or portable filing cabinets. Many pieces of luggage are fitted with casters, as are boxes and shipping crates used for transporting delicate items, such as musical instruments or electronic equipment. Smaller aircraft can be towed by caster dollies, allowing a single person to move an entire plane. Hospital gurneys and medical equipment are placed on casters that are antimicrobial, quiet, and capable of total or directional locking.
Casters are chosen on the basis of their application. There are several factors to consider when shopping for casters or having custom casters designed for a project. The material used in the manufacture of the caster wheel and body will depend greatly on the load capacity of the caster, which is the total amount of weight that will be placed on the caster. Learn more about casters.
An eyelet, a smaller version of a grommet, is a metallic ring used to strengthen or reinforce holes punched in thin materials. These devices are most often used in fabrics, sheet metal, and other thin fibrous materials. Without eyelets, holes in thinner materials are prone to tearing, but an eyelet helps prevent abrasion and other damage.
Eyelets are fairly simple devices and are usually manufactured using metal stamping machines and processes. An eyelet consists of a metal ring with a flange surrounding the center hole. The ring extends into a longer barrel which can be inserted into a hole in the material. Learn more about eyelets.
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. Learn more about fasteners.
Gas springs are versatile mechanical devices that store energy pneumatically and operate via high-pressure gas housed within a cylinder. Also known as gas struts, gas pistons, or gas shocks, these devices are commonly used in conjunction with or in place of traditional mechanical springs. Their basic function is very similar to air cylinders, since a piston is either compressed or extended based on the pressure differential between the gases within the chamber and those acting upon its exterior. The number of practical applications almost always involves exertion of force by way of the gas-filled cylinder as well as oil-based shock absorption. (In this context, such shock absorption is known as damping.) Gas springs are used to optimize various opening, closing, lifting, lowering, adjusting and damping actions. Learn more about gas springs.
Handles are necessary fixtures for a wide range of products including chests, cabinets, lockers, fences, tool boxes, doors and various pieces of equipment that are used in numerous industrial applications. They can be produced from a variety of materials such as steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass and die cast zinc; and often with options for black matte, chrome plating or zinc plating if there is a certain desired appearance. Handles for industrial use also include several different options for locking mechanisms, grip distances, and shaft lengths to meet demanding specifications. Handles with a U Shape are commonly used in industrial applications because they are versatile and minimize slippage when a strong grip is required. Some varieties of handles for industrial use include folding handles, standard pulls, offset pulls, slanted pulls, contemporary pulls, bars, tees, knobs, chest handles, L handles, paddle handles, recessed handles, and T Handles.
Some handles are completely stationary while others must be twisted, turned, flipped or lifted to release, and these differences may suit them for specific applications. For instance, paddle handles have a flip-out feature for latching or unlatching actuation and are relied on most often for equipment doors in the forestry, ranger, agricultural, mining, and construction industries. L handles are common on most doors they protrude at a perpendicular angle to the door and are turned from side to side to release the latching mechanism. Recessed handles, on the other hand, provide a flush mounting with the surface of the door or lid and are commonly seen on cabinets and containers. The quality and durability of each of these kinds of handles is crucial to their longevity because their basic function means they are highly inclined to wear and tear as they must endure repetitive/continuous and, in some cases, vigorous pulling. Learn more about handle manufacturers.
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. Learn more about 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. Learn more about 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. Learn more about locks.
Wire hooks are curved devices made of metallic strands and utilized for a number of purposes. Ubiquitous in manufacturing, commercial and domestic applications, hooks are available in a wide range of configurations. S-hooks, J-hooks and C-hooks are so named for their appearance while other variations of hooks, including gate hooks, fish hooks, rope binding hooks and others are named in relation to their intended purpose.
These versatile items known as wire hooks are frequently used by industries including plumbing, hardware, parts manufacturing, fishing, design and several others. The style of hook selected is largely dependent upon its intended use. Hooks made for wire displays are often ornamental and are skillfully designed. Clothing, hats and even food items are organized and presented on such hooks which may be attached to the wall or otherwise suspended. Though commonly used to this extent, wire hooks are also popular as fastening devices. Specially designed screw hooks are often attached to one surface with a loop secured to an adjacent edge. When connected, a secure closure is formed. As types and uses for hooks abound, several factors must be taken into consideration prior to selection. The shape of a hook is crucial as it determines the particular way in which a hook may be used. S-hooks, for example, are more apt to fastening than C-hooks. Material, size, weight, wire density and finishing should also be considered.
While wire hooks are extremely variable, all begin with a similar wire forming process. Before wire hooks can be produced, wire must be carefully manufactured to regulated specifications. The first step in making a hook therefore is to force stock metal through a series of dies which get progressively smaller until the resulting strand has been whittled down to the proper diameter. Aluminum, copper, steel, brass and stainless steel are common metals used in wire production. These metals offer the tensile strength necessary for the aforementioned uses of wire hooks. Once the wire is formed it may be heat treated, quenched or tempered as needed, though this step can also be completed as a finishing process. Wires are then cut to the desired length before being bent, stamped or pressed into shape. Though some manufacturers accomplish these steps manually, CNC machining is often used to promote precision and uniformity. Secondary processes such as painting, coating, plating, galvanizing and threaded occur at this point if needed or desired. The manufacturing and finishing processes are vital to hook performance as they have a significant impact on the physical and mechanical properties of the device. For decorative purposes these factors also affect the aesthetics of a hook. Learn more about wire hooks.