Quite literally, nuts, specialty screws and bolts hold our world together. In a culture that does so much of its business online and where data gets held ‘in the cloud,’ we tend to forget about the mechanics of the physical world around us.
Bolts and screws are considered to be one in the same by laymen, but folks that have more expertise will tell you otherwise – screws are generally not meant to be used with nuts, whereas bolts are. And looking at the history of fastening devices takes up back to the BC age. Threads – the spiral interlocking paths that bind nuts and bolts – date back to around 400 BC, when they were used to lift water and press grapes into wine, among other things.
Historians argue over the specifics of these dates and which cultures were responsible for what breakthroughs, but most agree that that the first machine to manufacture bolts and screws was produced in the 16th Century by French mathematician, Jaques Besson. Later, Besson introduced a screw-cutting gauge for use on lathes. An English firm called Hindley of York improved this device and it became widely used, dating to the mid-17th Century. The industrial revolution cemented the necessity for fasteners in all forms of machinery.
Currently, there are over 4000 registered fastener manufacturers in the USA, churning out of nuts, bolts, and screws. Most of them also make rivets, washers, pins, and anchors as well. Those companies employ nearly 120.000 people and generate over $25 billion revenue dollars each year.
Some of the most popular specialty items made by these nut and bolt manufacturers include heavy hex, #3 head plow bolts, # 7 head bucket tooth bolts, tap bolts (fully threaded hex bolts) and square head bolts. Also popular are locking flange nuts, castle nuts, socket cap screws, carriage bolts, elevator bolts flange bolts, hex head cap screws or hex bolts, concrete screws, machine screws… and the list goes on. Probably the largest consumers of nuts, specialty screws and bolts are the automotive, machine and construction industries. For instance – and the numbers vary – but the average car dashboard utilizes over 100 nuts and bolts alone.
Many folks don’t realize how important it is to choose the correct nuts, specialty screws and bolts to use in a given project, but it can be what makes the difference between a solid item that lasts and one that falls apart too quickly. Whether you make your nut, bolt and specialty screw purchases online or at a brick and mortar supply, be sure to ask someone well versed in fastening devices about what will work best for your needs on a given project.
In the beginning, nuts and bolts were made of wood – and you had to have one to make the other, since the threads had to match. The industry has come a long way.
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