Modern aircraft are made of numerous metal components, and those components obviously need to be held together. The body panels must be attached to the skeleton, the wings to the fuselage connector, and so on. There are several different methods for holding metal parts together, such as riveting, bolting, brazing, and welding. The purpose of all of these processes is to produce a union that is as strong as the parts that are joined.
Aluminum and its alloys, the primary materials for aircraft construction, are difficult to solder. To make a good union and a strong joint, aluminum components can either be welded, bolted, or riveted together. Riveting fulfills the requirements of strength and neatness and is far easier to do than welding. Therefore, riveting is the most common method for fastening aluminum alloys in aircraft construction and repair.
A rivet is a mechanical fastener used to hold two or more metal sheets, plates, or pieces of metal together. A head is formed on one end when the rivet is manufactured, while the rest of the rivet is known as the shank. During the riveting process, the shank of the rivet is placed through matched holes in two pieces of material, and the tip is then upset to form a second head to clamp the two pieces securely together. This typically takes the form of a pneumatically driven rivet gun hammering one end while a tool called a bucking bar holds the other end in place. The end result is a second head called a shop head.
The shop head functions just like how a nut does for a bolt and holds the pieces of metal together between it and the manufacturer’s head. Rivets are generally used to hold rib sections in place, join spar sections, secure fittings to parts of the aircraft among other usages. There are two main kinds of rivets used in an aircraft- solid shank type, which needs to be operated by using a bucking bar and another is special blind rivets, which are used where it is impossible to use a bucking bar.
Solid shank rivets are identified by the material they are made from; their head type, size of shank, and temper condition. They are almost always made from aluminum alloy, strengthened and tempered to different specifications dependent on their usage, but alternative metals like copper can be used as well. However, it is important to not mix metals in riveting, such as using a copper rivet on aluminum structure. This is because all metals possess a small electrical potential, and when dissimilar metals are in contact with each other in the presence of moisture, a small electrical current flows between them. This creates chemical byproducts and causes the metals to deteriorate.
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