Why is Riveting Better Than Welding in Aircraft Construction?
An aircraft is undoubtedly made of the best and strongest materials bonded and fused together to carry the incredible amount of weight of both the passengers and cargo. Holding these materials firmly together is crucial to the safe worthiness of the aircraft. One of several methods used to hold metal parts together include riveting. The process must produce a union that will be as strong as the parts that are joined.
Rivets are metal pins used to hold two or more metal plates, sheets or other pieces of materials together. A rivet consists of a shank or cylindrical shaft having a factory-formed head and another head called buck-tail on the opposite end of the factory-formed head. The rivet is inserted through matched holes in the two pieces of material that has to be held firmly together. The buck-tail is then upset or deformed to allow a second head to clamp the two materials securely together. The deformed buck-tail, which is upset using a hammer or pneumatic equipment (rivet gun), is called a “shop-head”.
Other Rivet’s Use in the Aircraft
Like the nut on a bolt, the shop-head performs the same function. Aside from joining aircraft skin sections, aluminum aircraft rivets are also used:
- For joining spar sections
- For holding rib sections in place
- For securing fittings to various parts of the aircraft
- For fastening innumerable bracing members and other parts together.
Riveting vs. Welding
Riveting works satisfactorily for aircraft applications from the standpoint of neatness and strength and where welding is not possible to fasten or join aluminum alloys in aircraft construction and repair. Welding sheet-metal alloys may cause some deformation and modification of the material’s properties. Hence, riveting is still widely-used in applications where high strength and light weight are critical.
Do you know where riveting is used other than in aircraft?