Know The Art of Riveting Rivets

From the Boeing 787 to the Airbus A330, virtually all commercial aircraft are constructed with riveted joints instead of welded ones. When it comes to riveted joints, two components are connected via a fastener, known as a rivet. These support shear loads that are perpendicular to the axis of the shaft and are especially useful in situations involving limited access. They are available in a variety of styles, sizes, and materials, and can be installed using a pneumatic hammer. Rivets are cost-effective, easy to install, and provide versatile reliability. This can explain why airliners choose to use them in the manufacturing process of aircraft.

Most aircraft are constructed out of aluminum alloy and when exposed to heat, they degrade over time. Welded joints would suffer the same consequence which is why manufacturers prefer riveted joints. Riveted joints are stronger and more durable than welded ones. A rivet is able to connect two components from the inside allowing for a secure fit, whereas welded joints connect on the outside. An aircraft that is flying at 575 mph at an elevation of 35,000 feet undergoes significant stress on its joints. A rivet is capable of enduring this speed and altitude, contributing to the overall safety of the vessel.

Maintenance is also easier with riveted joints. A quick visual inspection is enough to ensure that the two connected components are fastened securely. A machine or device is required to test a welded joint which could take some time; there’s no effective or simplistic way to perform an inspection on a welded joint. A riveting machine simplify the production and maintenance processes of an aircraft. Repairability isn’t as convoluted as well; the rivet gets drilled out, replaced, then riveted together again. If you need the lowest mass for a given strength, rivets are the best choice in this application as well. Although there are countless riveted joints, welded ones do exist on planes.

Aircraft rivets are cost friendly and simplistic in design, especially in cases where large numbers are needed. They are nearly impossible to open which is beneficial to the overall safety of the vessel; you don’t have to worry about them shaking loose. Flush rivets are aerodynamic since they can be constructed flush against the fuselage—screws and bolts naturally protrude. They are also great for complex parts of the aircraft since you can apply them entirely from one side. Rivets are small in size, but they account for a large part of aircraft manufacturing.


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