How and when should lock washers be used?

Washers come in all shapes and sizes for a variety of uses. Lock washers are designed specifically to fix nuts and bolts in place and prevent them from coming loose. Not everybody knows exactly what lock washers are, or when and how to use them. Let’s take a look at the design and functions of lock washers.

What are lock washers?

Lock washers are metallic fasteners - usually made of stainless steel, but can also come in aluminum, bronze, or phosphor bronze. There are several different types, including split washers and star washers. Their function is to prevent nuts and bolts from turning, slipping, and coming loose as a result of vibration or torque.

When should you use lock washers?

The question of when to use lock washers essentially comes down to whether or not there is a risk of fasteners coming loose in your particular application. They are often used in the transport industry when fastening components in cars, planes and marine vessels, as fasteners can easily loosen in these applications due to vibration. They are also used in household appliances such as washing machines. Lock washers are extremely useful in any situation where nuts and bolts need a bit of extra security to stay in place when they could potentially be shaken loose.

How do you use lock washers?

The lock washer should be placed under your threaded fastener - i.e., underneath a nut or the head of a screw or bolt. In assemblies where you have a nut and a bolt, the washer should be placed between the nut and the head of the bolt. You can then tighten the threaded fastener as normal. The lock washer must sit tightly and securely against both surfaces.  

If you need lock washers or any other stainless steel fasteners, contact Marsh Fasteners.

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