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About Fastco Manufacturing

Fastener Features – MAThread® and MATpoint®

Fastener Features – MAThread® and MATpoint®

Fastco is MAThread® and MATpoint® licensed. These patented thread types are heavily relied upon in automotive applications because they eliminate seizing and jamming of fasteners with anti-cross thread technology. This is especially beneficial for difficult, high-volume assemblies, reducing cost by eliminating the need for expensive reworks caused by cross or false threading.

Many automotive OEMs consider MAThread® to be the standard for externally threaded fasteners. These include GM, Ford, Chrysler, Mercedes Benz, Volvo, and VW.

Fastco can manufacture all of the following types of MAThread® Fasteners:

6 different MAThread types of thread rolling
Visit mathread.com for more information.

 

MATPoint

The most common design, MATpoint works effectively in most applications, except for when prying heavy components into place during an installation.

Very Short MAThread

As indicated by the description, this design has a very short end point. Therefore, this design works best for applications with problematic point clearance and limited angular misalignment.

Dog Point MAThread

Dog Point MAThread performs best on any difficult application or when prying heavy components into place during installation.

“P” Point MAThread

This design works best with difficult applications when the point clearance will not be an issue. In addition, it works well with thick stack-ups of multiple components.

Never-Jam™

If packing length and/or weight is a concern, this is the thread to use. It is effective up to and including 12 degrees misalignment.

Custom MAThread

MAThread can customize design criteria for special applications.

Custom MAThread - MATpoint with special dog
As an example of “custom,” here is a MATpoint design with a special dog.

 

Key Features of MAThread® and MATpoint®

Key fastener features of MAThread® and MATpoint® include:

  • Self-correcting: This makes thread damage or seizing impossible.
  • Easy-to-use: This allows any installer to use them without fear of fastener or part damage
  • Customizable: MAThread can meet customer’s specific needs.
  • Always improving: The design is regularly reviewed and made better.

 

In addition to automotive, MAThread® design can be used in a wide variety of industries, including construction, heavy equipment, motorcycles & recreation vehicles, and water craft.

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About Fastco Manufacturing

Our In-House Tooling Capabilities

For the last decade, Fastco has worked to increase our in-house tooling capabilities. From making less than a quarter of our tooling in-house, we’ve expanded to making about 80% of our tooling within our three onsite tool rooms.

Making our own tooling allows us to save money and time; we can make a tool set in less than half the time it would take to purchase one. This means we can pivot quickly on design changes and get prototypes out the door quickly.

 

 

In-House Tooling Improvements

In recent years, we have made some significant investments in our tooling equipment, including:

  1. A Sodick VZ300L Wire EDM machine, which opened up our capabilities with shaped inserts and trims.

    Sodick Wire EDM - to manufacture tooling in-house
    Fastco’s Sodick Wire EDM
  2. Our CNC Mills (including a Haas VF2 CNC Mill and a Haas CNC Mini Mill), which we use to make our own knurl dies in-house.
  3. A Haas TL1CNC Lathe, which has expanded our forming of steel solid pockets and punch inserts.
  4. A Weldon CNC ID Grinding Machine, which reduced costs for some of our most expensive tooling (pocketed and tri-lobular inserts). Most importantly, its high level of precision allows us to get an exemplary surface finish, improving the performance of these tools.

    Weldon CNC ID Grinder - for manufacturing in-house tooling
    Weldon CNC ID Grinding Machine
  5. A laser marking system, which allows us to make all marking tooling in house at a near-zero consumables cost.

 

 

Why In-House Tooling?

Manufacturers that make their own tooling provide a huge value benefit to customers for the following reasons:

  1. Decreased Lead Time: The current lead times for most purchased tooling is upwards of 8 weeks. We can make our tooling in less than half that time. If a design change happens, we work on the fly to change out the tool sets. If there is an out-of-stock scenario, we won’t need to short orders while we wait for tooling; we also won’t need to set up the machine again, adding wasted cost. If a customer needs prototype parts in less than 8 weeks, we can typically make that happen.
  2. Improved Control Over Quality: Making our own tooling allows us to produce better parts. Our tooling produces a superior finish on parts with tighter tolerances and a better total indicator reading (TIR). If we struggle with forming a part on a machine, we can  make tooling adjustments to improve the quality of the part.
  3. Lower Cost of Tooling: Not having to order tooling cuts down on freight costs. Making our tooling reduces costs associated with unnecessary downtime. It also reduces the need for extra outside processing trips and unnecessary extra setups.

 

 

Fastco’s Tooling Equipment

Fastco has a wide-range of tooling manufacturing equipment, including:

  • Manual ID, OD, and Surface Grinders
  • CNC ID & OD Grinders
  • Honing equipment
  • CNC Lathe, as well as manual and speed lathes
  • CNC Mills and manual mills
  •  Blanchard
  • Laser Etcher

These machines give Fastco the ability to grind, engrave, turn, mill, drill, and hone our tooling. In addition, we have a wide-range of inspection equipment, including a CMM, comparator, and Keyence, along with micrometers, calipers, and gage pins. We also have a manual arbor press and a hydraulic press for toolset assembly.

tooling made in-house

Content for this article was contributed by several key personnel at Fastco who have driven this shift and overseen it over the last several years. Thank you to Nate Barger (Tool Room Team Leader), Aaron Headrick (Purchasing Manager), and Tom Fredricks (Assistant Tool Room Team Leader). 

 

Categories
Manufacturing

Screw Locking Methods

Fastener Features – Screw Locking Methods

There are a number of ways to secure, or lock, a male threaded fastener into place. With bolts, this is typically done with nuts.  But what about screws or studs? There are a number of features that can temporarily or permanently lock screws into position on fixtures. This week, we are going to highlight three screw locking methods: SEMS screws, interrupted (or interference) threads, and thread-locking patches.

 

SEMS Screws

SEMS are a combination of a screw/bolt and permanently attached washer (or set of washers). The word SEMS comes from the Illinois Tool Works Inc. They originally made machines that produced pre-aSEMbled washers/screws.

SEMS are fast and easy to handle and assemble. Since they are already pre-assembled, there is less chance of components being missed in larger assemblies. But since they are permanent, the only way to disassemble them is to break the washer.

At Fastco, we have a dedicated SEMS unit that can assemble SEMS screws and bolts.

screw locking method - SEMS Screw
SEMS Fastener

 

Interrupted Thread

An interrupted (or interference) thread forms when a groove cuts into the threaded portion of the screw or stud. Alternately, the thread could also be deformed in some capacity to create the interrupted thread. This interrupts the thread as it coils into the fixture. These are typically a feature on self-tapping screws.

If you are interested in learning more about interrupted threads, contact us and our engineers can help you determine if this feature is the right design for your fastener and assembly.

Interrupted Thread
Stud with an interrupted thread just above the washer.

 

Thread-locking Patch

To create a thread-locking patch, one would apply an adhesive patch to the threaded area of the screw, bolt, or stud. This patch may be just a dot or it could wrap around the fastener. The patch may be nylon or another polymer adhesive. The patch increases the prevailing torque, providing vibration resistance and allowing the screw to lock into position when assembled. Since nylon-patch screws can withstand constant vibration and low-level heat without loosening, they are popular for the automotive and aerospace industries.

Here at Fastco, we partner with premier patch processors, including Nylok Corp and ND Industries.

Screw with nylon patch
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Industry News Manufacturing

The Benefits of Bulk Ordering

When it comes to buying in bulk, the old adage “the more you buy, the more you save” holds true across many industries. For cold heading manufacturers, the benefits of bulk ordering are especially significant.

That’s because cold heading is a bulk manufacturing process. But what exactly does that mean? It means we need to produce quantities of about 50,000 (although this can vary between 25,000 and 100,000 pieces, depending on the part size) or more at one time to be cost-effective.

There are two main reasons for this:

The upfront cost of cold heading tooling and development.

Our cold heading tooling averages between $2,000 and $6,000 to initially produce. If you are only making a one-time, low-volume purchase, you may end up paying this cost upfront or amortized over the smaller volume run. If you are ordering in large volumes for long-term jobs, Fastco does not charge for or amortize upfront tooling. The tooling is perishable and wears out over time, so there are ongoing tooling costs over the life of a long-running job. However, this is all part of the expense of manufacturing the part, and is not impacted by lot size or estimated annual usage.

Cold heading tooling in a shuttle in Fastco's tool room.
Cold heading tooling in a shuttle in Fastco’s tool room.

Initial development time is the other piece of the upfront cost. Our engineers have to work through how cold heading progression should work on the machine. This brings us to the next expense.

 

The machine setup time in cold heading.

While upfront costs are expensive, the biggest reason cold heading is considered a bulk process is the machine setup time. This is an ongoing expense that occurs with every order. True, the initial machine setup time on a brand new part might be longer than the average set up time for an established part. Still, the setup time will always be there.

Machine setup times are typically between 3 and 8 hours. Setup costs per hour, including labor, are between $100 and $120. This means a setup costs between $300 and $1,000 per job. If the job is 250,000 parts, the cost impact is negligible. If the job is only 10,000 parts, the cost of a setup will likely be higher than the cost of material. It could easily double or triple the overall cost of the part.

Senior setup techs work on setting up a cold heading job
Senior setup techs work on setting up a cold heading job.

 

Beyond cold heading, if a part needs to be thread rolled, the same setup cost factors would apply. In addition, if the part needs to be sent for outside processing, there are typically minimum lot charges. These can range widely, from $50 to $1,250 or more, depending on the process.

For all of these reasons, it’s obvious that bulk ordering is the most cost effective strategy for purchasing cold headed fasteners. So if your company is going to need 50,000 parts over the course of three months, we recommend placing an order for that full 50,000 parts. Don’t have space to hold all 50,000 parts? Let us know! We offer releases on blanket purchase orders. Talk to our sales team and we’ll be happy to help figure out how to get you the most and best product for your money.

Categories
Manufacturing

Cold Forming

It might seem basic: cold forming is when parts are formed “cold.” In other words, the metal is room temperature when the parts start the forming process. It is a high-speed and high-pressure forging process in which a coil of wire material is fed into a machine and progressively formed into shape with dies and punches or blows.

 

 

The Process – Progressive Forming

Cold forming uses a process known as progressive forming to gradually develop the part from a slug (a section of material cut from the coil of material) to its final shape, or close to it. The forming progressions are different for every part. The more complex a part, the more steps in the process. Likewise, the harder the material, the more blows may be necessary to reach the final shape. Fastco has a great deal of experience working with harder-to-form materials such as stainless steel and high-nickel alloys.

Factory worker
An operator feeds wire into a cold heading machine.

Common forming techniques include upsets and extrusions. Upsets involve reducing the slug in height and increasing the starting diameter. There are two types of extrusions. Forward extrusion is when the material is forced through a small diameter hole in order to reduce diameter and increase length. Forcing the material around a punch/pin to form a hole in the part is known as backward extrusion.

 

The Benefits of Cold Forming

Using speed and pressure to form parts has many benefits. There is very little scrap in the process, as it involves shaping the metal, not cutting, shaving, or drilling it like screw machining, which can lead to almost 60% metal waste. In addition, the process is efficient and cost effective when manufacturing bulk quantities. At Fastco, we consider “bulk quantity” to mean over 50,000 parts, although this varies depending on the size and complexity of the part.

Cold headed parts are also harder and stronger than hot forged parts. Parts formed by cold heading have a better surface finish, sometimes requiring no finishing work at all. While the process cannot meet the tight tolerances of precision machining, cold heading is still more precise than hot forging with dependable and reproducible results.

Tub of parts
A tub of parts.

 

What Cold Forming Can Make

A wide variety of fasteners can be cold formed, including screws, rivets, pins, bolts, bushings, and nuts. Whether or not a part is formable for Fastco specifically depends on several factors.

At Fastco, our machines form male fasteners, meaning nuts are outside of our capabilities. We do have the capacity to make some bushings and semi-tubular parts, depending on the dimensions.

 

Formable or Not?

The type of material, tolerance scheme and the features of the part matter. Some parts might be formable out of carbon steel, which is easier to manipulate, but not feasible with stainless steel. There are also certain features that are not able to be performed with cold heading, such as holes through the side of a part. Fastco does have the ability to send out for outside machining operations such as grinding, turning, and drilling and tapping. In addition, we have a thread rolling department capable of adding threads, knurls, fetters, points, and grooves to cold formed parts.

The size of a part matters, too. For example, our diameter range is between 3mm and 18mm; we would not be able to form parts that are outside of that diameter range. Within those limits, not every cold forming machine that we have has the same range. Our larger machines typically handle our bigger and/or more complex parts. A really small, complex part might not be big enough to run on a larger machine.

That’s why we always want to see component prints and to hear from you about the functionality of the part. Knowing what you need the fastener to do can help us determine if a tweak to the diameter, a different material, or a tolerance adjustment will make this a feasible part for us that will function just as well, if not better, for you.