Years of progress have left us with the ever-relevant screw thread. These small mechanical parts are the most abundant machine element annually produced, and we have a variety of strategies for creating them. Subtractive options such as tap and die cutting or thread grinding come to mind; additionally, 3D printing represents an additive way to generate threads.
It was over 2,300 years ago that Archimedes invented a revolutionary invention for creating screw threads- the Archimedes Screw. This pioneering technology remains in use today, mainly for pumping water. Fast forward to the late 1700s, where the first factory dedicated to producing screws was established in England. These screws were originally made of wood, and were used in furniture production. However, this quickly changed in 1841 when a metal screw was patented in America, causing these sturdier components to replace wood screws across a large portion of applications.
A variety of screws have been developed for different projects – one of the most common being wood screws. Used to attach two pieces of wood, their heads evenly distribute pressure while their spiraling threads ensure the screws stay in place. As such, wood screws form a secure bond between the two pieces of wood, making them an ideal tool for joining them together.
A screw features two distinct thread types – external and internal. The external threads link to a carved cavity, while the internal ones match the teeth of a nut.
A Hex Nut is the most commonplace fastener and is often deployed in combination with a bolt. Its hexagonal head draws metal components tightly together and the threads along its shaft secure them suitably in place. In this way, two or more items are affixed firmly.
Hex bolts, one of the most ubiquitous types of fasteners, can be employed to securely attach two or more layers of metal. Their head facilitates pressure which draws the components together, while the grooved threads on their shaft extend into the material, securing them in place.
Crafting external and internal threads on metal can be done with the convenient help of a tap and die set. Depending on your needs, there are various types of tap and die sets, but most often utilized are hand tap and die sets. The tap allows you to form the interior of the thread, while a die works to shape the exterior.
With a virtually ubiquitous presence across the USA, the Unified Thread Standard (UTS) is by the far the most widely used thread in production-manufactured goods – occupying a share of over 90%.
The Unified Thread Standard serves as an accepted system for screws, consisting of two primary types: the UNC (Unified National Coarse) and the UNF (Unified National Fine). Through this specification, the same thread type can be used regardless of external factors such as product manufacturer or location.
When it comes to thread selection, UNC is a popular choice for general-use queries and boasts a considerable range of sizing options. For precision needs, UNF has somewhat limited size availabilities but is nonetheless a wise option.
UNC and UNF threads can be found crafted from various materials such as tough steel, rust-resistant stainless steel, and lustrous brass.
In 3D printing, there are two methods available: additive and subtractive. Additive printing involves employing the principles of accumulation to form a 3D object by layering materials together over time. Subtractive printing, on the other hand, creates a 3D object through carving and trimming excess material away.
With Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), 3D printing reaches new heights. This methodology involves the melting of a plastic filament, which is placed in measured quantities to gradually form the desired 3D shape. Layer by layer, the process brings the object to life.
Among the many different 3D printing techniques, FDM stands out as the most popular option. Thanks to its convenience and affordability, this printing method is the clear favorite among both newcomers and experienced users alike. And if variety is what you’re after, you’ll be glad to know that FDM printing can accommodate a diverse selection of materials, ranging from PLA plastic to PETG plastic and even ABS plastic.
Stereolithography, the most ubiquitous form of subtractive 3D printing, involves selectively hardening a photosensitive resin layer-by-layer with a laser to form a three-dimensional figure.
SLA printing is the most precise and accurate 3D printing method available, though its costliness sets it apart from other types. As a result, this kind of printing is largely reserved for creating prototypes and parts needed in lower-quantity productions.
3D printing is a handy type of manufacturing that brings your digital data to life. Offering incredible flexibility, this technology allows you to construct pieces of any size or shape. Through the addition of components, parts are crafted layer by layer, designed from the digital blueprint.
Industries ranging from aerospace to consumer products swear by the efficiency of 3D printing, using it not only to produce complete production parts but also to create models for innovations. It is clear that 3D printing has revolutionized how new products are designed and developed.
The possibilities of 3D printing technology continues to expand and evolve, each day bringing forth new applications. This groundbreaking, versatile technology is a constant source of excitement and innovation.