Comprehensive Guide on Fasteners: Self-Clinching, Broaching, Surface Mount, and Weld-On Fasteners

Fasteners are integral components in mechanical and structural design, providing secure and reliable joining solutions for a variety of materials. Engineers must select the appropriate type of fastener based on application requirements and material compatibility. This guide provides a detailed comparison of self-clinching, broaching, surface mount, and weld-on fasteners, highlighting their specific use cases, installation methods, and the materials they are best suited for.

Self-Clinching Fasteners

Description: Self-clinching fasteners are engineered to be pressed into a host material, creating a permanent, strong threaded or unthreaded attachment point. The installation process involves the displacement of the material into undercuts in the fastener, forming a secure lock.

Types and Applications:

  • Self-Clinching Studs:
    • Examples: SA, SB, SC, SD, SE, SF, SG​​.
    • Materials: Aluminum, carbon steel, stainless steel (300 and 400 series), heat-treated materials.
    • Applications: Providing strong, male-thread installations in sheet metals. Common in electronics, automotive, and aerospace industries where high-strength, vibration-resistant connections are required.
  • Self-Clinching Nuts:
    • Examples: NA, NAL, NB, NC, NEL, NF, NG, NH, NHL, NJ, NM, NN, NP​​.
    • Materials: Aluminum, carbon steel, stainless steel (300 and 400 series).
    • Applications: Used in thin sheets to provide durable threaded attachment points. Floating thread options allow for tolerance compensation in assemblies, while blind threads offer sealed ends to prevent leakage.
  • Self-Clinching Standoffs:
    • Examples: TA, TB, TC, TCU, TD, TDU, TE, TF, TG, TGU, TH, TJ, TJU, TK, TM, TN, TP, TR, TS, TT​​.
    • Materials: Brass, aluminum, heat-treated carbon steel, stainless steel (300 and 400 series).
    • Applications: Provide mounting points for components within enclosures and are essential in PCB mounting, offering both threaded and unthreaded options. Special features like concealed heads and grounding options cater to specific design requirements.

Installation Method: The installation of self-clinching fasteners typically involves the following steps:

  1. Hole Preparation: A hole is punched or drilled into the sheet material. The hole size must be precise to ensure proper clinching.
  2. Fastener Insertion: The fastener is placed into the hole, aligning the undercuts with the material.
  3. Pressing: Using a press or other suitable tool, the fastener is pressed into the sheet material. The pressing force displaces the material, flowing it into the undercuts of the fastener, creating a strong mechanical lock.

When to Use:

  • Ideal for applications requiring high strength and permanent installation in ductile materials.
  • Commonly employed in sheet metal fabrication, electronic enclosures, and other assemblies where space constraints and reliability are critical.

Suitable Materials:

  • Aluminum, carbon steel, stainless steel (300 and 400 series), phosphor bronze, heat-treated materials.

Broaching Fasteners

Description: Broaching fasteners are designed to be installed into non-ductile materials such as PC boards and hard plastics. They create their own holes during installation through a broaching action, which involves cutting into the material to ensure a secure fit.

Types and Applications:

  • Typically used in electronic components and circuit boards where traditional fasteners are impractical.
  • Ideal for securing components in brittle or hard materials without causing damage or requiring additional preparation.

Installation Method: The installation of broaching fasteners generally includes the following steps:

  1. Alignment: The fastener is positioned on the surface of the material where it is needed.
  2. Pressing: A broaching fastener is pressed into the material, with the sharp edges cutting and displacing the material to create a secure fit.
  3. Seating: The fastener is seated flush with the surface, ensuring a stable and reliable attachment point.

When to Use:

  • Ideal for non-ductile materials where self-clinching fasteners cannot be used.
  • Commonly found in electronics, PCBs, and assemblies involving hard plastics.

Suitable Materials:

  • PC boards, hard plastics.

Surface Mount Fasteners

Description: Surface mount fasteners are designed to be installed on the surface of materials using adhesive or soldering techniques. These fasteners are predominantly used in electronic assemblies where traditional fastening methods are not viable due to space constraints.

Types and Applications:

  • Surface Mount Standoffs:
    • Provide mounting points on PC boards and other flat surfaces. They are crucial in maintaining the integrity of electronic assemblies by ensuring proper spacing and support.

Installation Method: The installation process for surface mount fasteners includes:

  1. Adhesive Application: An adhesive is applied to the base of the fastener or directly onto the material surface.
  2. Placement: The fastener is placed on the adhesive-coated area.
  3. Curing: The adhesive is allowed to cure, creating a secure bond. Alternatively, soldering can be used for metal surfaces, involving the melting of solder to bond the fastener to the substrate.

When to Use:

  • Ideal for electronic assemblies where space is limited and traditional through-hole mounting is impractical.
  • Used extensively in PCB manufacturing and other electronic component assemblies to provide secure mounting without compromising board integrity.

Suitable Materials:

  • PC boards, flat electronic substrates.

Weld-On Fasteners

Description: Weld-on fasteners are designed to be permanently welded onto the surface of the host material. They provide a robust and secure attachment point capable of withstanding significant loads and stresses.

Types and Applications:

  • Used in applications requiring exceptionally strong, permanent joints.
  • Common in industries such as automotive, heavy machinery, and structural engineering where durability and load-bearing capacity are critical.

Installation Method: The installation process for weld-on fasteners typically involves:

  1. Preparation: The surfaces to be welded are cleaned and prepped to ensure a strong bond.
  2. Positioning: The fastener is positioned in place on the material surface.
  3. Welding: A welding process, such as MIG, TIG, or spot welding, is used to permanently bond the fastener to the material. The weld must fully penetrate both the fastener and the material to ensure maximum strength.

When to Use:

  • Ideal for applications requiring high strength and permanence, where the host material can withstand the welding process.
  • Often used in automotive chassis, structural frameworks, and industrial machinery to provide secure attachment points that will endure high stress and vibration.

Suitable Materials:

  • Carbon steel, stainless steel, and other weldable metals.


Each type of fastener serves a specific purpose and is designed for particular applications and materials. Here’s a detailed overview:

  • Self-Clinching Fasteners: Best for high-strength, permanent installations in ductile sheet metals. Suitable for electronics, aerospace, and automotive industries where reliability and space efficiency are critical.
  • Broaching Fasteners: Choose for non-ductile materials like PC boards and hard plastics. Essential in electronic and PCB applications where secure attachment without damaging the substrate is required.
  • Surface Mount Fasteners: Ideal for electronic assemblies with space constraints. They are primarily used in PCB manufacturing to provide secure mounting points without through-hole mounting.
  • Weld-On Fasteners: Best for heavy-duty applications needing strong, permanent joints in weldable metals. Common in automotive, industrial machinery, and structural applications requiring high load-bearing capacity.

Selecting the appropriate fastener type based on the application requirements and material compatibility is crucial for ensuring the integrity and performance of the final assembly. This detailed understanding aids engineers in making informed decisions, contributing to the reliability and durability of their designs.