The fastener industry is currently worth about $30 billion in the U.S., covering dozens of different types of screws, nuts, and bolts. With so many fastener options available, it can be incredibly difficult to determine which one would be best for the job at hand: should you choose to order custom screws or buy in bulk, go for cheap or expensive, plastic or metal?
While each project (and budget) varies in the tools required, there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding plastic fasteners and their application in high-stress situations — the fact that even NASA uses plastic micro screws in their satellites should be enough proof to know that their strength is trustworthy. Here are a few benefits of choosing plastic fasteners over metal.
They don’t rust. With very few exceptions, metal fasteners are prone to degradation and rust, particularly when exposed to salty or wet conditions. As they corrode, their strength fades, increasing the possibility that they will break altogether. Plastic fasteners, however, never rust or corrode; certain plastic fastener options (such as PVC, Isoplast, and PET) are even ideal for salt-water conditions as they are incredibly strong for their weight, cannot absorb water, and are impervious to corrosive substances.
They are affordable. Plastic screws and bolts are used heavily in the automotive industry due to their affordability when compared to their metal counterparts. If your project requires a lot of fasteners, plastic is the best way to go to save money; if they’re strong enough for cars, the difference won’t even be noticed.
They’re versatile. Plastics are preferred in applications where weight, thermal, environmental, chemical, and electrical properties are a significant consideration for end use. They can meet a wide variety of design requirements depending on what is needed from the project, and can even simplify it: sometimes a single plastic fastener can replace several metal components.
They come in any color. In addition to coming in standard sizes, plastic nuts, bolts, and screws are available in just about any color imaginable. As a result, they’re ideal for projects that have exposed nail or screw heads; whereas metal fasteners need to be painted or coated (which can easily chip off as time passes), plastic will never be visibly scratched off.
The process of finding the right fastener option doesn’t have to arduous and expensive: with plastic screws, nuts, and bolts in your repertoire, you’ll be able to tackle any job you come across.