As airplanes are made up of thousands of parts, some of which need to be joined together to form larger structures, countless fasteners can be found in various areas of an aircraft. Apart from conventional fasteners like bolts, washers, and nuts, many planes also feature non-traditional fasteners like nutplates.
Also referred to as anchor nuts, nutplates are stationary nuts that can be riveted in place. Frequently used to secure threaded fasteners, nutplates feature a threaded hole in the center. Once the nutplate has been riveted in place, the threaded fastener can be twisted into this hole. When looking to purchase a nutplate for your operations, keep in mind that there are fixed and floating variations.
Fixed nutplates are distinguished by their completely rigid construction that is fixed, as their name suggests. In fact, this nutplate type gets its name from the center hole that does not move once it is installed. Like their floating counterparts, they are designed with a center hole to support a threaded fastener. However, most fixed nutplates will be equipped with two other holes to support a pair of rivets.
Floating nutplates, on the other hand, are designed with a moveable hole. Meanwhile, the two holes for the rivets are usually stationary or fixed. With a moveable center hole, floating nutplates can handle higher tolerances when compared to fixed nutplates. In most cases, choosing one over the other comes down to the application at hand.
Generally, nutplates are classified as either fixed or floating based on whether the center hole can move after being installed. They are typically utilized in the aerospace manufacturing industry as they can resist large amounts of vibration. While vibrations can loosen other types of fasteners, this is not the case for nutplates as they are securely riveted in place.
The center hole, which supports a bolt, can move around freely in floating nutplates. Once the floating nut has been riveted in place, the bolt must be twisted into the center hole. In regular nutplates, alignment is critical. If a conventional nutplate is not properly aligned with the bolt, insertion will be difficult, but this is not the case for floating nutplates.
Even if a floating nutplate is slightly off center, a bolt can be inserted into the center hole with ease. This is due to the fact that the center hole is moveable, allowing you to move the center hole to align with the bolt. Nonetheless, either nutplate, fixed or floating, can be a good option for a wide range of projects.
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