Renowned as the premier supplier of electronic hardware, threaded inserts for plastic, and high-volume screw machine products nationwide, RAF Electronic Hardware has been a stalwart in the industry since its establishment in 1975.
Boasting an expansive product range, including a comprehensive line of threaded inserts, RAF Electronic Hardware is a leading producer of spacers and standoffs, and HTF has been a proud distribution partner for decades. Let's take a closer look at these insert types, particularly those offered by RAF.
What are Spacers and Standoffs?
Spacers and standoffs are used in many essential industries as vital fastener accessories, creating necessary gaps between connected surfaces or components. This is particularly crucial in electrical builds. Additionally, spacers allow accurate placement of screws or bolts in different parts and materials.
A screw spacer is a small, hollow tube or cylinder used by placing it between the surface being fastened and the head of a screw or bolt. Essentially, employing a spacer ensures that the screw or bolt cannot be entirely driven in. The hollow design of a spacer allows the screw shaft to pass through it before entering the surface material. This creates a gap between the screw head and the material or component below while allowing proper torquing of the fastener.
In addition to establishing a clearance gap, spacers aid in precisely positioning screws and bolts. Most spacers have a smooth interior, remaining freely spinning until secured in place by tightening the screw. Typically crafted from metal, spacers may also be made from alternative materials, such as nylon, for non-conductive purposes. Depending on their use, they might be labeled as screw insulators due to their insulating properties.
Types of Spacers and Standoffs
To conceptualize standoffs effectively, envision them as having three sections: two threaded ends and the central body. Standoffs can be categorized based on these threaded ends, which include female-female standoffs, male-female standoffs, and male-male standoffs.
Female-Female Standoffs (Threaded Spacers)
Female-female standoffs, also known as threaded spacers, feature female threads on both sides. This design allows the installation of a screw or male standoff on either end. The longer variants typically have threads covering a minimum depth, while shorter options may have threads along the entire length.
Male-female standoffs consist of one end with a male thread and the other with a female thread. This configuration is particularly beneficial for stacking circuit boards, where each male thread is inserted into the female thread of the mating part. This reduces the number of fasteners required in the overall assembly and minimizes installation time.
Male-male standoffs feature male threads on both ends and are employed for connecting two female-threaded components. Another common application is thread adapters, converting a female thread to a male thread. The male-male standoffs may have identical threads on each end or different threads, offering versatility for various uses.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Spacers and Standoffs
Thread Size Variations
Standoffs come in all standard thread sizes, offering both inch and metric options. While it is typical for standoffs to feature the same thread size on both ends, they can also be manufactured with distinct thread sizes on each side. Customers seeking standoffs with different thread sizes may need to make a special request.
As previously mentioned, standoffs are crucial in separating multiple components, with the exposed portion referred to as the body. Available in a diverse range of length options, achieving a consistent and secure fit is paramount, leading to precise machining within tight tolerances.
The outer diameter of standoffs offers a selection of standard sizes to cater to specific needs. This variability ensures an exact fit and function for any application.
A larger OD results in a thicker standoff, enhancing strength and rigidity. This added wall thickness provides durability in demanding applications, preventing warping or bending during installation and offering surface protection for soft and delicate materials.
Conversely, smaller ODs create thinner standoffs, ideal for applications where space or weight is a primary concern. A smaller OD reduces the standoff's footprint, making room for additional components and contributing to weight reduction.
Standoffs and spacers present a choice of profiles, including hex, round, and square. Hex spacers are preferred for installations with wrenches or pliers, while round or square spacers contribute to a clean aesthetic. For assembly lines, customers often opt for different profiles on similar parts at various steps to create visual distinctions in the production line.
Material and Plating Options
The final consideration involves choosing the material and plating. Factors such as corrosion resistance, rust resistance, magnetism, electrical conductivity, and strength-to-weight properties are key considerations when selecting a spacer. Additionally, color and cost are factors in the decision-making process.
Standoffs and spacers can often be installed without any special tools. It is important to look at the diagram and illustrations that come with components to install the proper-sized screw. Metal standoffs are often used as grounding points and to prevent electrical interference.
HTF Has the Hardware You Need
RAF Electronic Hardware has a stellar reputation for its commitment to quality and should be considered for your next project. Similarly, HTF boasts a dedicated and experienced sales team with an average tenure of 15 years at the company. Leveraging their extensive knowledge, the HTF team is dedicated to assisting customers in securing the right parts precisely when they need them.
Choose HTF for spacers, standoffs, and more for your next project!