Often used in conjunction with a bolt and nut, locking washers are extremely useful for securing components together. With the use of a locking washer, a bolt can take on heavier loads with a more even distribution of weight and maintain superior vibration resistance. As there are several types of locking washers that can be used for a variety of applications, it is essential to have a solid understanding of different options before choosing one.
The first important element to understand with regard to locking washers is how they differ from the standard flat washer. A flat washer is named after its curveless design which allows them to effectively distribute loads evenly. While they are excellent at providing compression resistance, they are generally more prone to loosen after repeated torque or vibration is applied to the fastened object. On the other hand, a locking washer is explicitly designed to prevent the associated bolt from loosening over time while still maintaining adequate load distribution.
Locking washers work by providing downward tension on the bolt after being secured by the nut. With this design, the assembly is much less likely to loosen, even in the presence of extreme torque and vibration. These features make locking washers an attractive component in aircraft engines and automotive assemblies. Locking washers come in a variety of materials and are further divided into specific categories.
External Tooth Lock Washer
An external tooth lock washer features teeth that protrude radially outward to bite into the area of contact. These washers are most commonly paired with larger bolt heads and provide the most torsion resistance. They are usually made of spring steel and stainless steel and can be coated with cadmium, nickel, silver, phosphate, or other alloys depending on the needed corrosion resistance.
Internal Tooth Lock Washers
Internal tooth lock washers have teeth that project inwards to secure the bolt in place. These washers are best used with smaller bolt heads or applications where the teeth should be hidden from appearance. Both internal and external tooth washers can leave scratches on the surfaces they attach to.
Split Lock Washers
Split lock washers are the oldest and most commonly used locking devices. Unlike their counterparts, split lock washers do not feature any teeth but instead rely on their helical design to prevent rotation. Split washers are sometimes referred to as spring washers because they only apply a frictional force when the bolt begins to loosen. These washers provide minimal vibration resistance compared to the other options and thus should only be used for lighter loads and softer materials. Additionally, split lock washers can be combined with a standard flat washer to provide even distribution of pressure and a more secure lock.
A more modern type of locking device, the safety washer, features a unique trapezoidal cross-section and serrations on both the top and bottom. These heavy-duty washers are thicker and are produced with different inner diameters to fit a wide variety of bolt sizes.
The innovative wedge-lock consists of two separate washers with serrations that interlock when tightened. With this design, any rotational movement will be very slight and occur only between the two washers.
The final type of washer commonly employed as a locking mechanism is the tab washer. These particular washers have a unique piece of metal protruding off the side called a tab. Once the washer has been screwed in place at the mating surface, the installer will knock the tab up and around the bolt head to lock it in place.
If you are looking to purchase reliable locking washers, look no further than One Click Purchasing. We are owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, and we can help you find the locking washers or any other fasteners you need. With over 2 billion items listed on our database, we invite you to take the time to explore our offerings at your leisure. In addition, if you are interested in initiating the purchasing process for a particular product or would like a quotation for your comparisons, please do so with our Instant RFQ service. At One Click Purchasing, we are more than just a reliable distributor; we are a strategic sourcing partner.
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