How To Select the Right Size and Type of Helical Inserts for Maximum Efficiency in Precision Manufacturing

In precision manufacturing, every detail matters. One such element that deserves keen attention is the selection of helical inserts. These coiled wire inserts, often used for thread repair or to enhance the strength of tapped threads, play a crucial role in guaranteeing the stability and durability of manufactured components. For purchasing managers and professionals in precision manufacturing, understanding how to choose the right size and type of helical inserts is pivotal for operational efficiency.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essentials of selecting the perfect helical inserts for your needs, ensuring you achieve maximum efficiency and cost-effectiveness in your operations.

1. Understand Your Application

The foremost consideration is the end-use of the component you are manufacturing. Are you repairing a stripped thread? Enhancing the strength of a new thread in a softer material? Or are you looking to achieve a more uniform bolt load pressure? By understanding the primary purpose, you can narrow down your choices.

2. Know the Material Type

Different materials come with varying levels of hardness, durability, and malleability. The type of material you’re working with can heavily influence your choice. For instance:

  • Soft Materials: When dealing with softer metals like aluminum or brass, it’s essential to select a helical insert that offers additional thread engagement. This boosts the overall holding strength of the material.
  • Hard Materials: For harder materials, like certain grades of steel, you’d want an insert that ensures ease of installation without compromising the thread’s integrity.

3. Size Matters

The size of the helical insert directly impacts the performance of the final product:

  • Diameter: The outer diameter of the helical insert should be compatible with the tapped hole. Always consider the tapped hole size before making a selection.
  • Length: This should typically be 1 to 1.5 times the diameter of the bolt or screw. Too short, and you risk inadequate thread engagement. Too long, and you may encounter difficulties during installation.

4. Decide on the Type

There are different types of helical inserts designed for specific applications:

  • Free Running: These are general-purpose inserts that provide a smooth, free-running thread.
  • Screw-locking: These have a unique design that provides a locking action, ensuring bolts or screws do not loosen under vibrations or temperature changes.

Your application will largely dictate the type. For instance, parts that will experience frequent vibrations might benefit from screw-locking inserts.

5. Consider Installation and Removal

Your manufacturing process’s efficiency can be influenced by how easy it is to install or remove the helical insert. Some inserts come with a tang that aids in installation but needs to be broken off later. Others are tang-free, making them simpler to install and eliminating potential tang breakage issues.

6. Cost vs. Efficiency

Lastly, while cost considerations are always relevant, it’s crucial to not compromise on quality. Cheaper inserts may not offer the durability or precision fit that high-quality inserts provide. Remember, the right insert can prevent potential future costs due to component failures or additional repairs.

In precision manufacturing, the selection of components like helical inserts is not just about filling a hole. It’s about ensuring the stability, durability, and efficiency of the final product. By considering the application, material type, size, insert type, and other factors, purchasing professionals can make informed decisions that contribute to the success of their manufacturing processes. Always prioritize quality and suitability to ensure maximum efficiency and cost-effectiveness in your operations.

MF Supply is a WBE/WOSB certified supply chain partner to business, industry and government. We are sourcing experts and stocking distributors of Hardware, Precision & Mil-Spec Fasteners and Safety supplies. For more than 50 years, we have been supplying manufacturers in the electronics, industrial, commercial, aerospace and military markets with the full range of fastener products and services. Our Cage Code is 58QG4 and our registered name is RL Supply Inc dba MF Supply.