It took several years, but self-tapping screws for plastic assembly have come of age. OEMs were lukewarm toward this type of fastener in the 1980s and early 1990s, that trend has changed in recent years.
Several types of threaded fasteners are installed not with a power tool, but a press. Self-clinching nuts, threaded inserts and similar fasteners are pressed into thin, soft or otherwise fragile materials to provide strong threads for mating hardware.
Durable plastic fasteners are recommended for assemblies where metal fasteners would be either too heavy for the component or too abrasive for the component material. Printed circuit boards are a common application.
Automakers are often the driving force behind the latest product and process innovations in assembly. Case in point: European automakers have been using flow drilling screws since 1996 to assemble body panels and chassis made of aluminum and thin materials-which continue to gain favor to make cars lighter.