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What do rivets, adhesives, wire, bolts, tape, and rope have in common? They are all used to fasten things. While these examples are quite diverse, within each category is a wealth of options for making something "stick" to something else. Some work well across a wide spectrum of materials and uses. Others are specific to the task at hand.

The earliest type of joining - friction or interference fit - is still used today. Hammers and axes have an oversized end or a shim that is driven into the handle to secure the head. Bearings are pressed into or on tight-tolerance assemblies.

Likely the frustration of trying to mount an arrowhead inspired a crafty individual to seek an alternative. The earliest fasteners were mechanical but weren't metal or man-made because we didn't have the technology. Instead, they were sinew or plant fibers.

Bolts and screws make the world go 'round. These are the most common fasteners on the planet. They can be removed and installed relatively easy and reused in many cases. Screws are one of the six simple machines defined in physics.

Rivets have built the infrastructure of many countries. Large ones like found on bridges have to be heated to glowing red and within seconds, hammered into place and peened. This takes advantage of a superior friction/interference fit. The metal contracts as it cools so it tightens the joint further. Basic rivets, however, are used at room temperature.

Perforation welds are not welding in any sense of the word but it creates a solid, strong union between adjoining sheets. Simply, the two pieces are overlapped and perforated. The holes' edges intertwine and act as mechanical glue. Depending how it is perforated, the join could easily exceed the strength of the base materials.

Chains are a joining method. They rely on the strength of the metal in its ring configuration, which can be calculated by knowing the physical properties of the metal and the size of the rings. Welded rings would be subject to a different set of numbers.

The metal contracts as it cools so it tightens the joint further.
Modern science contributes their bit with UV-cured fuggetaboutit epoxies. Today's space-age adhesives are amazing. Superglue is medically approved as a substitute for stitches. Or for today's warriors, a waterproof, reusable, reinforced, leaves no residue, doubles as rope, do-it-all tape make duct tape a thing of the past.

Lastly comes the family of melting methods. Soldering, brazing, and welding belong here. TIG, MIG, plasma, laser and gas welding are just the start. They are the most modern though the earliest examples of soldering go back thousands of years.

Jewelry provides an excellent glimpse into the past, sometimes one of the few surviving pieces from an entire civilization. It uses all of these methods. The ornamental or fashionable aspect can be completely invisible or a focus point of the design. Otherwise, let the mystery remain.

Posted by M: September 2, 2019

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