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Measuring torque when installing controlled tensioning of a threaded fas- Authored by: *

threaded fasteners is the best indicator of tener while monitoring both torque and
future joint performance, right? Actually, tension. At a specified torque or tension, David Archer :4,
bolt tension is a better performance indi- the known values for 7, D, and F are in- ln
Archetype Fasteners LLC ',,
cator, but measuring torque is far easier serted into the short-form equation to per-
Orion, Mich. ,41

to do. mit solving for K.

Bolt tension is created when a bolt elon- Many engineers use a single value of K Edited by Jessica Shapiro
gates during tightening, producing the across a variety of threaded-fastener diam- *
clamp load that prevents movement be- eters and geometries. This approach is valid Key points: .4
tween joint members. Such movement is to some extent, because an experimentally . The experimentally determined
arguably the most common cause of struc- determined nut factor is by definition inde- nut factot K. consolidates the
tural joint failures. The relationship be- pendent of fastener diameter. But to truly friction effects on threaded- t!:
fastener systems.
tween applied torque and the tension cre- understand the factors involved, it is help-
ful to compare the short-form equation . A nut factor determined for one tt
ated is described by the relationship:

T=KxDxF with a torque-tension relationship derived fastener geometry is valid for ,

from engineering principles. fasteners of similar geometry but :al

different diameters. x
where T = torque, K = nut factor, some- Several of these equations are common, ia
times called the friction factor, D = bolt especially in designs that are primarily used .Testing joint prototypes y,;
diameter, and F = bolt tension generated in the E.U. Each produces similar results highlig hts fastener interactions
during tightening. This expression is often and takes the general form: and points out design flaws.
called the short-form equation. Resources:
T=FxX *
ArchetypeJoint !LC,
The nut factor where X represents a series of terms w w w. a r ch ety pej o i nt. co m a,

The nut factor, K consolidates all fac- detailing fastener geometry and friction 'Joint Decisions," Mncurnr Drsrcru,
tors that affect clamp load, many of which coefficients. These relationships are often April 1, 2005, http://ti

are difficult to quantify without mechani- referred to as long-form equations. (Three "How Tight is Right?" Mncurr're
cal testing. The nut factor is, in reality, a of the most widely used long-form equa- Drsren, August 23, 2001, ta:l
fudge factor, not derived from engineering tions are discussed in the sidebar, The long
principles, but arrived at experimentally to wary')
make the short-form equation valid. To understand how the nut factor com-
Various torque-tension tests call for pares to the terms in the long-form equa-


tions, let's consider the so-called Motosh
7,,= Frx l(Pl2t) + (y,x r,lcos p1 + (y,x r,)J
where 7, = input torque, Fp = fastener pre-
load, P = thread pitch, U,= friction coefficient
in the threads, rr = effective radius ofthread
contact, p = halfangle ofthe thread form (30'
for UN and ISO threads), l, = friction coef-
ficientunderthenutorhead, andr =
effective radius ofhead contact.
The equation is essentially three -
terms, each of which represents a
reaction torque. The three reaction
torques must sum to equal the input
torque. These elements, both dimen-
sional and frictional, contribute in
varying degrees to determining the
torque-tension relationship, the pur-
pose ofcalculating nut factor.

The impact of variables

So how do design decisions influ-
ence the nut factor that defines the
torque-tension relationship? Specifi-
cally, engineers maywonder howvalid
a nut factor determined from a torque-
tension test on one twe of fastener is
for other fastener geometries.
The short-form equation is structured so that the fas- tests on one fastener diameter can be used to calculate the
tener diameter, D, is separate from the nut factor, K. This torque-tension relationship for fasteners with a different
implies that a nut factor derived from torque-tension diameter.


,,v I



Like the nut Validating variables

factor itself, how- 35o/o
ever, this approach While the nut
isonlyanipproxi- factor K, in
mation. The ac- $J roo" the short-form
equation is
curacv of usine u F- experimentally
F )\o/^
nomlnal lastener determined,
diameter, D, to .g long-form
applyaconstant !2aon equations use
nut factor across E several variables
a range of fastener 3 rcon to quantify
sizes depends E the effects of
on the extent to P thread pitch and
" c ^^",
lv-/o friction on the
wnrcn lastener clr- ; torque-tension
ameter affects re- .0
traces shown
here help explain
the effect each
4oo/o 600/o 80o/o 1$0o/o variable has on
lncrease in variable (o/o) bolt tension.

sense to examine them individually. importance of thread pitch falls.

Clearance-hole diameter, for instance, is directly tied There is a maximum deviation of 4.2o/o between the
to nominal diameter. The long-form equations calculate results ofthe short and long-form equations for stan-
that swapping a close-diametrical-clearance hole with dard-pitch, metric, hex-head-cap screws with constant
one 10% larger leads to a 2o/o reduction in bolt tension and equal coefficients offriction. As friction coefficients
for a given torque. Enlarging the fastener-head bearing increase, there's less error in assuming the nut factor var-
diameter by 35o/o, say by replacing a standard hex-head ies directly with nominal diameter because the impact of
fastener with a hex-flange-head, cuts bolt tension by 8% thread pitch, the most independent variable, falls.
for a given torque. So, if all else is held constant, it's reasonabie to apply
Both bearing diameter and hole clearance generally a nut factor calculated at one fastener diameter across a
scale linearly with bolt diameter, so their relative impor- range offastener sizes. For best resuits, engineers should
tance remains the same over a range of fastener diame- base testing on the weighted mean diameter of the fasten-
ters. However, different head styles or
clearances change the reaction torque
from underhead friction because the
contact radius changes.
Doubling the thread friction coef-
ficient on its own, say by changing the
finish or removing lubricant, reduces 50
bolt tension by 28Vo for a given torque.
Engineers should note that the thread 240
and underhead friction coefficients are CJ

often assumed to be equai for conve- x5u

nience in test setups and calculations.
ISO 16047 estimates that this assumD- 20
tion can lead to errors of I to 2o/o.
Thread pitch tends to be more 10
indeoendent of nominal diameter
thanlhe other variables. Increasing
just thread pitch by 40% cuts tension 0l020304050
5o/o for a given torque. However, the Tension (kN)
reaction-torque term containing the
thread pitch, P Torque-tension tests on simplified representative joints let engineers
- Pl2n - does not
contain a friction coefficient. There-
determine a nut factor that can define the torque-tension relationship for
similar fasteners with different diameters. However, sample-to-sample
fore, as fastener diameter and, conse- variations in friction can make results vary by as much as 10o/o.
quently, friction increase, the relative

42 MACHINE AUGUST 20, 2009

a; .f the long-
The long and short of it ri)r:m equa-
Theshort-form tlons get en-
equation, I=K
xDxF,usingan gli'eers closer
experimentilly to the "right"
derived nutfactor, aF 'wer thanks
F=0.16,K=0.206 K,givesslightly to their fun-
f=008,K=0115 different results da.nental cor-
90ok -i '-i thanthelong-form re tness. How-
-:l equationovera e,.
- r lnno_fnrm
xii rangeoffastener "'""b
Q B0olo -r-, sizesasshown here
ei atlons' even
v fortwo different \'! en oerlveo
frictionlevels. tI. n enqlneer-
700/0 ;--'-.*- 1..--.- Results fall within ing principles,
i: I
5oloofeachother. u, l assumP-
Thevaluesforpand ti ns and ap-
600/0! :- -.. :, - "M; ,,.-,;...-..-.,-.---,..,-,,...,...."-,..,.,-...,....:,.- ........-..,.---.--,-,;--..---,"-..';-) Kwere chosen to pr ximations
-.. - -
M5 M6 Mlo M12 M14 M16 M20 M22 M24 normalizetracesfor ih t may make
Ml2fasteners. tt m no more
Nominal fastener diameter
, ,:i,r,t:t,t,t1: I t,t:
I i :. .. :-.:::':' :' '... . (lC fect than an
rr( ation using
ers forwhich the nut factor will be used. an experimentally derived nut factor.
Many engineers find it expedient to apply a single nut The potential errors in both types of e uations pale
factor across even greater fastener ranges, such as those compared to the variations in real-world jo, ts. Benchtop
with different head styles or clearance diameters. Apply- torque-tension testing shows approximate y 10% varia-
ing the nut factor to joints where geometric variables other tions within samples even when all fastt:ner and bearing
than nominal diameters are changing causes the short- materials are the same. According to both s, trt and long-
form-equation results to differ from the long-form results form equations, there should be no variatir n at all. Fric-
byupto l5%. tion coefficients seem to vary from sample t sample.
The situation is even worse in prodtr.ct )n-represen-
Long or short? tative joints. One in-joint torque-lension est with bolt
all the discussion about which variables im-
So given tension measured in real time using ultraso c pulse-echo
pact the nut factor and when it is reasonable to use a con- techniques revealed variations inherent in how compo-
stant nut factor across a range offasteners, it may seem nents fit together. A slx-bolt pattern magnil ed the effects
of imperfect contacl i :tween bolts
and the bearing surfa ce ind produced
a 607o sample-to-sample variation
because both geometric and friction
variables were changinS tver the sam-
ple set.
The bottom line is it neither the
nut factor nor the lon -form equa-
tion's friction coefficier .s can be reli-
ably established using reference ta-
bles. Only testing acci,rately deter-
mines friction conditicns. As we have
seen, these are too sensitive to com-
ponent and assembly variation to be
determined by analysis lone.
Testing reliably c verts input
torque to induced te ion, Ietting
0102030405060 engineers determine ean friction
coefficients or nut fa iors and the
Tension (kN)
distributions about 1 rose means.
Torque-tension tests on prototype joints, like this one on a six-bolt pattern,
Tests may also help en;ineers iden-
can highlight design problems in joint design. ln this <ase, variations of up to
600lo from sample to sample indicated that the joint geometry was magnifying
tify inherent shortcomings in joints
the effects of imperfect contact between fastener and bearing surface. that need to be revised o make them
more reliable. MD

AUGUST20,2009 IVACHINEDesign,com