Invisible Connections – Understanding the Role of Fasteners in Everyday Objects


From the moment we wake up to the time we go to sleep, we are both surrounded by, and are interacting with, countless objects that use fasteners to hold their components together. Yet most of us give little thought to something as seemingly mundane as a screw, nail, or bolt. We take for granted these invisible connections that allow the things we depend on to function properly day after day.

The Ubiquitous Screw

Of all fasteners, perhaps none is quite as ubiquitous as the simple screw. From electronics and appliances to furniture and construction, screws are everywhere. Yet according to the folk at SPAX few pause to consider how integral screws are to keeping our manufactured world from literally falling apart.

In electronics, tiny screws hold circuit boards, batteries, and cases together. They allow components to be securely fastened while still permitting access for repairs and upgrades. In appliances large and small, screws play a similar role, bringing together metal and plastic parts to create things like blenders, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners.

In the home, screws go to work holding together furniture from beds to bookshelves. Their ability to join wood or metal components allows for sturdy yet adjustable connections able to withstand years of use. At a larger scale, screws form the vital skeleton of many buildings. Timber construction in particular relies on an array of screws working in unison to create structural integrity.

Connecting with Nails

The simple nail has likely been in use almost as long as human beings have been building shelters and structures. Nails create flexible, easy-to-disassemble connections between wood, drywall, concrete, and other building materials. Homeowners regularly employ nails for DIY repairs and projects. But nails also work behind the scenes in nearly all construction to provide inexpensive and adaptable ways of bringing components together. Beyond building, nails facilitate other types of assembly. For example, the manufacturing industry relies heavily on nails running pallet assembly lines or creating product packaging.

Creating Sturdy Structures with Bolts

From metal framing to machinery, sturdy bolted connections form vital joints where strength and rigidity are paramount. Though similar to screws, bolts are specially engineered for applications demanding high clamping force. Aircraft, bridges, railways, and oil rigs all exemplify large-scale structures where enormous tensile loads necessitate bolted joints.

At more modest scales, bolts become necessary where vibrations may weaken screw or nail connections. Engines of all types, for instance, utilize bolts to withstand intense shaking and vibration. Bolted connections also afford adjustability not possible with welds or rivets. As such, they find widespread use in heavy machinery and industrial applications where rigidity and calibration are both required.

The Hidden Importance of Rivets

The humble rivet quietly goes to work in countless settings, from jeans to jetliners. Though it lacks the versatility of bolts and screws, its permanence lends unique structural qualities. The riveting process mechanically deforms the rivet shank, creating a permanent bulge that locks components together without loosening. This makes rivets ideal for critical applications like aircraft construction.

Rivets also form leak-proof connections crucial for plumbing, chemical plants, and marine vessels. And they possess the ability to join dissimilar metals since electrical resistance isn’t a concern with rivets. For these reasons and more, rivets deliver irreplaceable fastening solutions across many fabrication challenges.


Fasteners are so ubiquitous we hardly notice them, yet the world as we know it would fall apart without them. Our lives are filled with invisible connections in the form of screws, nails, bolts, rivets, and more that hold together everything from electronics to buildings. Fasteners may seem mundane, but they exemplify the hidden thought that goes into much of what we use and often take for granted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *