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Why Are Washers Used With Aircraft Fasteners?

Utilizing aircraft fasteners for assembly can benefit a number of systems and apparatuses, allowing for parts to be affixed together in order to form joints, build structures, and more. While components such as threaded fasteners are crucial to the construction of many aircraft, they are often paired together with other hardware components in order to achieve better results. One of these important paired parts is the washer, that of which often comes in the form of a thin, disc-shaped metal piece with a hole in the middle. Alongside aircraft fasteners, washers provide load distribution, spacing, vibration absorption, liquid protection, and other benefits to the assemblies they are installed on.

While washers may provide various uses depending on their application, the most common use for washers is for load distribution. When installing threaded fasteners, washers may be placed under the head of the component, allowing for the load to be distributed evenly across surfaces. This is crucial when operating with materials such as wood, as screws and other fasteners may cause splitting when loads are not distributed correctly. While every assembly may not require the use of washers for load distribution, they can be highly beneficial for wood and other soft materials in order to protect them from stress and loads that are induced during installation.

Alongside load distribution, washer components are also commonly implemented alongside other components in order to act as a spacer. This use serves extremely well for threaded fasteners that have lengths that exceed the depth of the object they are installed in, as such differences may cause fasteners to protrude out of the assembly. By implementing a washer between the fastener and the component, one can ensure that there is a form of padding that prevents the fastener from being driven too deep into the component. With assemblies that use screws, having a washer to prevent the tip from protruding is important as sharp edges may damage other components or harm those around the object if it is exposed.

Beyond serving as a spacer for assemblies, washers also benefit components with their ability to absorb vibrational forces. To bear the forces of vibrations that many assemblies are subject to during operations, such washers are constructed utilizing soft materials such as rubber, urethane, and plastic. As compared to materials such as metal, softer materials are much more effective for vibration absorption. Such an ability is crucial for a number of applications, as vibrations may cause threaded fasteners to become loose or can result in damaged components.

Lastly, certain types of washers may be used within an assembly in order to prevent fluids from entering or leaving a system, acting as a seal. Within applications such as piping systems, washers may be installed between pieces of piping in order to fill gaps and deter the flow of water to the outside of the assembly. For liquid protection applications, such washers are constructed from soft materials so that they may form to the surface of the object, closing off any possible gaps that may be present.


April 14, 2021

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