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Case Study
Bolt Science Example


Bolt Science's web page has the case study shown below (Bolt Science is not affiliated with FAST-DAQ or SureBolt). Note especially the investigation's findings on friction variations causing an accurate (5% variation) torqueing process to give a very inaccurate (40% variation) bolt tension. Then see the pie chart to see where the torque goes. All credit for this information should go to Bolt Science. Bolt Science is the best resource on the web for bolted joint education. See their great bolted joint tutorial.

After all the mechanical engineering classes on stress analysis calculations, why do some bolted joints fail? Here is an actual case study showing how wide variations in bolt friction causes bolt failures. SureBolt helps you avoid such variations in tension. See animation. What are the sources of torque wrench tension errors?

For more information, see the main SureBoltTM navigation screen.



Case Study

Torque Tightening

Presented below is a case history of a torque tightening problem experienced by a vehicle manufacturer. Necked Bolt


The Problem

A manufacturer was experiencing problems with the fasteners securing a bracket supporting part of a rear suspension on a vehicle. There were two problems:

1. On some, but not all vehicles, the bracket was slipping resulting in fretting. The relative movement which was occurring between the bracket and the bolts was causing elongation of the bracket's holes and necking of the shanks of the bolts. This was happening even with the bolts being pre-applied with thread locking adhesive. Inspection of the bolts on failed units confirmed that the nuts were not rotating loose. The photo shows one of the necked bolts.

2. During assembly, on certain batches of bolts, a proportion where failing on initial torque-up. This was despite a torque wrench being used to ensure consistency of the torque value.


Background to the Problem

From test and analytical work completed during the initial design of the assembly, a clamp force from the fasteners of 105 kN was required to prevent slippage of the bracket from suspension induced loading. The bolts being used where four M12 strength grade 8.8 zinc plated fasteners. During the design stage it was realised that the effect of the thread adhesive was to increase the thread friction. Based upon a thread friction coefficient of 0.2 and an underhead friction coefficient of 0.14, a preload of 34 kN was calculated together with a tightening torque of 90 N-m. With four bolts being used, the clamp force of 136 kN was considered more than adequate for the application.

Due to the failures, the adequacy of the design of the assembly was re-assessed. Based upon this investigation it was revealed that:

1. The thread friction coefficient could vary between 0.14 and 0.25.

2. The underhead friction coefficient could vary between 0.10 and 0.18.

3. A prevailing torque of 7 N-m resulted from the frictional drag associated with the thread locking adhesive.


The Cause of the Problem

It was realised by the engineers that the problems they had been experiencing was as a result of frictional scatter not being accounted for at the design stage. Based on a torque wrench accuracy of 5%, 85.5 N-m would be the lowest value of torque applied to each of the bolts. Using this tightening torque with the highest values of friction and a prevailing torque of 7 N-m, they determined that the bolts clamp force would only be 23.9 kN, under the worst case condition. This was significantly below that which the application required.


The Solution

To overcome the two problems the company's engineers re-assessed the basis on-which they determined the bolts tightening torque and the resulting clamp force. Briefly; they deduced that a higher strength grade of bolt was required. It was decided to use M12 strength grade 10.9 bolts, flange headed to provide resistance to vibration loosening and ease of re-assembly during maintenance work. To determine the tightening torque and resulting clamp force the engineers:
  1. Determined the tightening torque using the lowest value of friction coefficients. A torque of 110.5 N-m was determined on this basis utilising 90% of the fastener strength due to the combined effects of tensile and torsional stresses.
  2. This torque value was reduced by 5% (to 105 N-m) to allow for torque wrench inaccuracy. This torque value was to be specified so that even under adverse conditions, the bolts would not fail on initial torque-up.
  3. Using the 105 N-m torque value and the highest anticipated friction coefficients, a clamp force of 30.4 kN was determined. This clamp force is the minimum value which could be anticipated based upon the worst case frictional conditions.

The piechart how the 105 N-m tightening torque is distributed within the fastener. (The chart is from the TORQUE program.)

Torque Distribution

Following a test programme, the revised fasteners and torque specification was introduced as a design change and as a service modification to vehicles in the field. No further problems were reported.

To assist the Engineer in overcoming the problems associated with the use of threaded fasteners and bolted joints, Bolt Science has developed a number of computer programs. These programs are designed to be easy to use so that an engineer without detailed knowledge in this field can solve problems related to this subject.


All Trademarks are acknowledged.
Bolt Science - Specialists in Bolted Joint Technology
Copyright 1999 Bolt Science. All rights reserved.
BoltCalc, Torque and Fastener are Trade Marks of Bolt Science Limited.

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