If you’re an original equipment manufacturer or professional in construction or an industrial market, you usually know what you’re looking for when it comes to hardware. You simply follow your spec sheet and choose a supplier that can offer you the best price and most reliable service.
But what if you lack such specifics and you’re looking for something like a washer? You know you need to incorporate spacing and support within a fastener assembly, but upon searching for washers or spacers, you’ll find that there are many, many different options. Some washers appear very similar to one another, and yet their performance can vary greatly. There are also many different types of washers that differ considerably in appearance and serve numerous purposes apart from simple spacing.
Searching Washers By Material
Material is a very important factor in what a washer will deliver. Strength, corrosion resistance, thermal insulation, electrical conductivity, natural germicidal properties, even added cosmetic appeal are all achievable if you pay close attention to the features of a specific material or alloy.
While steel and stainless steel washers are among the most widely used types of spacers in industrial applications—as they offer strength—those made from copper, bronze, Inconel, aluminum and other metals provide unique properties. Non-metal washers made from rubber, various polymers, and other synthetic materials like nylon, Neoprene, and Delron can also offer strength in addition to cushioning, sealing, low friction, high friction, and other attributes.
Searching For Washers By Shape
The most common shape you’ll encounter when searching for washers is round and flat, as they are often paired with round or hexagonal headed and necked components. The inner and outer diameter of a washer can, however, vary greatly in shape and proportion. It’s also important to note that washers aren’t always flat; Belleville or conical, wave, spring, locking, and wedge washers all feature a non-flat surface.
Such structural variations provide a range of different mechanisms and functions beyond load distribution. For example, a spring, Belleville, or wave washer may be used to help retain tension and provide a shock-absorbing effect when placed between a fastener and a surface. Square, D-shaped, and rectangular washers incorporate spacing as round washers do, but they are better for jobs that require a washer remain fixed rather than free to rotate. Washers may even be slotted or C shaped to allow for installation without a full removal of a screw or bolt.
If you find you need to get special shape washers, whether you need to source slotted square washers or three wave washers, you’ll want to go directly to the manufacturer to maximize your choices and get access to custom stamping services if you need them.
Before You Buy
To get the most for what you pay and to ensure the success and longevity of your installation, remember to carefully consider the type of performance you hope to get from a spacing component before you go ahead and make a purchase. Don’t be overwhelmed by all the options out there. For the most part, determining the right material and shape, and identifying a reputable source are all you need to make a smart spacing choice.