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Threaded Fasteners and

Power Screws
Aiza A. Patadlas
Thread Standards and Definitions

Fig. 1 Terminology of screw threads.

Sharp vee threads shown for clarity; the
crests and roots are actually flattened
or rounded during the forming

• The pitch is the distance between adjacent thread forms measured parallel to the thread axis.

• The major diameter d is the largest diameter of a screw thread.

• The minor (or root) diameter 𝒅𝒓 is the smallest diameter of a screw thread.

• The pitch diameter 𝒅𝒑 is a theoretical diameter between the major and minor diameters.

• The lead l, not shown, is the distance the nut moves parallel to the screw axis when the nut is given one turn.
Fig. 2 Basic profile for metric M and M J threads.
𝑑 = major diameter
𝑑𝑟 = minor diameter
𝑑𝑝 = pitch diameter
𝑝 = pitch
𝐻= 𝑝

The M profile replaces the inch class and is the basic ISO 68 profile with 60° symmetric threads.

The MJ profile has a rounded fillet at the root of the external thread and a larger minor diameter of both the internal and
external threads. This profile is especially useful where high fatigue strength is required.
Table 2 Diameters and Area of Unified Screw Threads
UNC and UNF*
Table 1 Diameters and Areas of Coarse-
Pitch and FinePitch Metric Threads.*
Fig. 3 (a) Square thread; (b) Acme thread.

Table 3 Preferred Pitches for Acme Threads

The Mechanics of Power Screws
A power screw is a device used in machinery to change angular motion into linear
motion, and, usually, to transmit power.

Fig. 5 Force diagrams: (a) lifting the load; (b) lowering the load.

For raising the load, we have: For lowering the load, we have:

(a) (b)
Fig. 4 Portion of a power screw
Solve the result for P: 𝑑 For raising the load we can write
Note: 𝑇 = 𝑃𝑥 𝑚
For raising the load, this gives 2

and for lowering the load, Torque required to lower the load

(d) (2)

Divide these equations by cos 𝜆 With 𝑇𝐿 > 0 the screw is said to be self-locking.
Thus the condition for self-locking is
Use the relation tan 𝜆 = 𝑙/𝜋𝑑𝑚

(e) Divide both sides of this inequality by 𝜋𝑑𝑚 .

Note: tan 𝜆 = 𝑙/𝜋𝑑𝑚
(f) If we let 𝑓 = 0 in Eq. (1)
The efficiency is therefore


For raising the load, or for tightening a screw

or bolt, this yields


If 𝑓𝑐 is the coefficient of collar friction, the

torque required is

Fig. 6 (a) Normal thread force is increased because of angle 𝛼;
(b) thrust collar has frictional diameter 𝑑𝑐 .
The maximum nominal shear stress 𝜏 in
torsion of the screw body can be
expressed as The axial stress 𝜎 in the body of the screw due to load 𝐹 is

(7) (8)
The bearing stress in Fig. 7, 𝜎𝐵 , is


Where 𝑛𝑡 is the number of engaged threads. The

bending stress at the root of the thread 𝜎𝐵 is found



The transverse shear stress 𝜏 at the center of the

root of the thread due to load 𝐹 is
Fig. 7 Geometry of square thread useful in finding
bending and transverse shear stresses at the thread (11)
From the coordinate system of Fig. 7, we note

Then use the von Mises stress equation

(b) Using Eqs. (1) and (6), the torque required to turn the screw against the load is

Using Eqs. (2) and (6), we find the load-lowering torque is

Threaded Fasteners

Fig. 8 Hexagon-head bolt; note the washer

face, the fillet under the head, the start of
threads, and the chamfer on both ends. Bolt
lengths are always measured from below the

The thread length of inch-series bolts, where d is the nominal diameter, is


and for metric bolts is


where the dimensions are in millimeters.

Fig. 9 Typical cap-screw heads: (a) fillister head; (b) flat head; (c) hexagonal socket head. Cap screws are
also manufactured with hexagonal heads similar to the one shown in Fig. 8, as well as a variety of other
head styles. This illustration uses one of the conventional methods of representing threads.
Fig. 10 Types of
heads used on
machine screws.
Fig. 11 Hexagonal nuts: (a) end view, general; (b) washer-faced
regular nut; (c) regular nut chamfered on both sides; (d) jam
nut with washer face; (e) jam nut chamfered on both sides.

During tightening, the first thread of the nut tends to take the entire load; but yielding occurs, with some strengthening
due to the cold work that takes place, and the load is eventually divided over about three nut threads. For this reason you
should never reuse nuts; in fact, it can be dangerous to do so.
Joints—Fastener Stiffness

Fig. 13 Section of cylindrical pressure vessel.

Fig. 12 A bolted connection loaded in tension Hexagon-head cap screws are used to fasten
by the forces P. Note the use of two washers. the cylinder head to the body. Note the use of
Note how the threads extend into the body of an O-ring seal. l is the effective grip of the
the connection. This is usual and is desired. l is connection (see Table 8–7).
the grip of the connection.
Table 4 Suggested Procedure for Finding Fastener Stiffness
Thus the stiffness constant of the bolt is equivalent to the stiffnesses of two springs in series. Using the results of Prob. 4–1,
we find


for two springs in series. From Eq. (4–4), the spring rates of the threaded and unthreaded portions of the bolt in the clamped
zone are, respectively,


Substituting these stiffnesses in Eq. (14) gives


where 𝑘𝑏 is the estimated effective stiffness of the bolt or cap screw in the clamped zone.
Joints—Member Stiffness
There may be more than two members included in the grip of the fastener. All together these act like compressive springs in
series, and hence the total spring rate of the members is


Fig. 14 Compression of a member with the equivalent elastic

properties represented by a frustum of a hollow cone. Here, 𝑙
represents the grip length.
Fig. 14b, the contraction of an element of the cone Thus the spring rate or stiffness of this frustum is
of thickness 𝑑𝑥 subjected to a compressive force 𝑃
is, from Eq. (4–3), (18)

With 𝛼 = 30°, this becomes
The area of the element is

we learn that 𝑘𝑚 = 𝑘/2. Using the grip as 𝑙 =
2𝑡 and 𝑑𝑤 as the diameter of the washer face, from
Eq. (18) we find the spring rate of the members to
Substituting this in Eq. (a) and integrating gives a be
total contraction of

Using a table of integrals, we find the result to be

The diameter of the washer face is about 50 percent greater than the fastener diameter for standard hexagon-head bolts
and cap screws. Thus we can simplify Eq. (20) by letting 𝑑𝑤 = 1.5𝑑. If we also use 𝛼 = 30°, then Eq. (20) can be written as


To see how good Eq. (20) is, solve it for 𝑘𝑚 /𝐸𝑑:

The results, which are depicted in Fig. 15, agree with the 𝛼 = 30° recommendation, coinciding exactly at the aspect ratio
𝑑/𝑙 = 0.4. Additionally, they offered an exponential curve-fit of the form


with constants A and B defined in Table 5. Equation (22) offers a simple calculation for member stiffness km. However, it is
very important to note that the entire joint must be made up of the same material.
Fig. 15 The dimensionless plot of stiffness versus aspect ratio of the members of a bolted joint, showing the relative
accuracy of methods of Rotscher, Mischke, and Motosh, compared to a finite-element analysis (FEA) conducted by
Wileman, Choudury, and Green.
Table 5 Stiffness Parameters of Various Member Materials† † Source: J. Wileman,
M. Choudury, and I. Green, “Computation of Member Stiffness in Bolted
Connections,” Trans. ASME, J. Mech. Design, vol. 113, December 1991, pp. 432–