Bolt manufacturing process

Bolt manufacturing process

The bolt manufacturing process consists of three stages:
* Heading
* Thread rolling
* Blackening


This initial process is a cold forging process (called "heading") used to produce a near net shape work billet. An important consideration in heading is the tendency for the bar to buckle if its unsupported length to diameter ratio is too high. This ratio usually is limited to less than 3:1 but with appropriate dies, it can be higher. Therefore, heading is the most likely production method because bolts have a large head-to-shank ratio, they are longer than 1½ times their diameter, bolts have multiple diameters and finally require a geometrical shape (i.e. the rounded head).

Furthermore, this production method is probably used because cold heading has a very high production rate, and produces virtually no waste material. The process works as follows: the bar stock is fed into a machine, called a "former". The bar stock is stopped, and then gripped by a gripping die. The gripping die is shaped in such a way that it forms a carriage along the neck of the stock when its full gripping force is applied. An indented punch, the shape of a rounded head, will then proceed to move forward, colliding with the stock and causing the metal to flow at right angles to the ram force provided by the punch, increasing the diameter of the work billet, and reducing its overall length, thus forming a "rounded" head. The work billet is then sheared to the desired length.

Thread rolling

The next process applied to the bottom of the work billet (the side without the head) is a bulk deformation process known as "thread rolling". This type of cold-forming process is used because cylindrical parts (such as the remaining round part of the bolt) can easily have thread applied by rolling the work billet through two dies. The thread rolling process is usually chosen over machining because thread rolling provides higher production rates, more effective material usage, stronger thread due to work hardening, and finally better fatigue resistance because the work billet undergoes compressive stresses during the rolling process.

Blackening and Galvanization

The final process induced on the now almost complete bolt is the application of an anti-corrosive layer, to stop oxidation. The usual process is called "blackening"; an alternative is galvanization. Either process chemically or physically coats the surface of ferrous metals, creating a strong barrier against humidity and corrosion. There are two types of blackening processes:
* hot blackening
* cold blackening.Hot blackening involves dipping the bolt into six different tanks. The bolt is usually "dipped" by automated part carriers for transportation between tanks. These tanks contain, in order, alkaline cleaner, water, caustic soda at 455.4°C (the blackening compound), and finally the sealant, which is usually oil. The caustic soda bonds chemically to the surface of the metal, creating a porous base layer on the bolt. Oil is then applied to the heated bolt, which seals it by "sinking" into the applied porous layer. It is the oil that prevents the corrosion of the bolt. There are many advantages of blackening, mainly:
* blackening can be done in large batches (ideal for small bolts)
* zero dimension impact (the blacking process creates a layer about a micrometre thick)
* it is far cheaper than similar corrosion protection systems, such as paint and electroplatingNevertheless, for attractiveness and superior corrosion resistance galvanization may be used. This incurs an additional cost but may extend the life of bolts deployed outdoors considerably.



Work-holding fixtures

During the "heading" process, the steel bar stock is gripped by gripping dies. In thread rolling, the work billet is held by thread dies. Finally, for the blackening process the bolt is held by automated part carriers.


*Manufacturing Technology (C) Dr Malcolm Taylor February 2005, University of Canterbury press
*Feature - Do-It-Yourself Cold Blackening-

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