Fastener Material Selection & Plating Guide

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Selecting the proper fastener material and finish can make or break a project—especially those with intended applications underwater or in harsh environments. With many options available, many professionals struggle to find the best choice for their application. Below, we’ll cover choosing an appropriate fastener material for your project and provide guidelines regarding finish selection.

Choosing the Best Fastener Material for Your Project

Fasteners can be manufactured from a wide variety of materials, and the available coating and finishing options help users tailor a solution specific to their application. Alloy steels, aluminum, and carbon steel all see frequent use, but manufacturers can also create fasteners from numerous plastics, brass, nylon, and other materials.

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Fastener Material Selection Guide Infographic

Materials and Properties List

At National Bolt, we offer our clients a choice in materials from the following list:

  • Alloy Steels
    • Low corrosion resistance
    • Often requires additional coating
    • High strength
    • Often brittle or rigid
  • Aluminum
    • Light and soft
    • Corrosion-resistant
  • Beryllium
  • Brass
    • Corrosion-resistant
    • Electrically conductive
    • Relatively soft
    • Often selected for aesthetic purposes
  • Silicone Bronze
    • Often utilized in marine environments
    • Superior corrosion resistance compared to stainless steel
    • Higher-strength than standard bronze
  • Carbon Steel
    • Grades 2, 5, and 8 are standard for screws and bolts
    • Alloyed carbon steel is typically used as a higher-end variation
  • Magnesium
  • Molybdenum
  • Monel
  • Inconel
  • Nickel
  • Stainless Steel
    • Highly corrosion-resistant
    • Often stronger than un-hardened steel, but weaker than hardened steel
  • Tin
  • Titanium
    • Extremely corrosion-resistance
    • Superior strength to weight compared to aluminum
    • Ideal for high-temperature environments
    • Frequently utilized in the aerospace industry
  • Various Plastics
  • Nylon
    • One of the most commonly-used plastics
    • Exceptional strength at all grades
    • Excellent wear resistance


Fastener Finishes Options

The ideal finish depends heavily on the intended end use of the fastener. Many finishes can help to prevent corrosion or increase strength. The materials used to create and finish fasteners can heavily impact their ideal use; the strength, brittleness, corrosion resistance, and cost of these materials all vary and play into the selection process before fabrication begins.

There are a number of options for finishing custom-manufactured fasteners. Whether the intent is to boost strength, improve corrosion resistance, or achieve another niche goal, there’s likely a coating designed to provide the advantage your application requires. We provide clients with a full range of finishing options, including:

  • Black Oxide
    • Mildly improved corrosion and abrasion resistance
    • Reduces reflective properties
    • Complies with military specifications
    • Good plating for a decorative appearance (i.e. fasteners used in indoor furniture applications)
  • Hot Dip Galvanizing
    • Adds corrosion resistance
    • Ideal for harsh environments
  • Zinc Plating
    • Not suitable for extreme environments
    • Improved corrosion resistance
  • Chrome Plating
    • Improved aesthetics
    • Improved corrosion resistance
    • Hard chrome can be utilized to minimize friction and increase abrasion resistance

What Is Galvanic Corrosion? How Can It Be Avoided?

Galvanic corrosion takes place when incompatible metals come into electrical contact while submerged in water or salt water. The first metal (the anode) corrodes more quickly while the other (the cathode) corrodes at a slower rate, resulting in half of the component material corroding away.

Careful material selection mitigates the risk of galvanic corrosion. Dissimilar material combinations should be avoided when selecting metal paneling, trim, and fasteners for underwater applications.

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Fastener Solutions from National Bolt

National Bolt offers our clients a wide variety of custom non-standard fasteners to suit the needs of any operation. We pride ourselves on quick delivery and also offer emergency same-day services. Our capabilities include:

  • Large diameters
  • High strength
  • Exotic materials
  • Prototypes
  • Line-Down

For more information about our fasteners and capabilities, please contact us or request a quote.

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