People often confuse self-drilling screws for self-tapping screws. Self-tapping screws/fasteners tap their own threads, but cannot drill through hard objects like metals. Self-tapping screws require a pilot hole for proper installation, but self-drilling screws, the other hand, don’t require any pilot hole. In terms of likeness, self-tapping screws and self-drilling screws can tap their own threads, but generally, self-drilling screws come with a higher thread count compared to self-tapping screws.
In a nutshell, all self-drilling screws are a form of self-tapping screws, but not all self-tapping screws are self-drilling screws, and due to the above differences these screws cannot be used interchangeably, and mixing them may cause some headache at the very least.
Self-drilling screws offer faster installation time. They are also fairly easy to use as only a drill is required to fasten them. Thus, these kinds of screws save time and cost.
Just like any other form of metal screw, self-drilling metal screws are also available in a number of specifications:
- Material (carbon alloy, copper, stainless steel, aluminium, brass or polycarbonate)
- Screws head (phillip, pozi, slot hex, torx, square, etc)
- Chemical plating or coating (tin, zinc, phosphate, polycarbonate, copper, etc)
- Diameter and length
There are a few things that we must keep be careful with whilst using stainless steel fasteners to ensure their durability and long life. Common mistakes that people make whilst using fasteners are:
Selection Of Fastener: One of the most common mistakes that people make while selecting a fastener is selecting the incorrect grade and the type of material it is made of. We must select fasteners made from stainless steel, brass, or plastic depending on the use. Stainless steel provides protection from corrosion and it’s affordable as well. Brass is best for brazing while plastic is great for use underwater.
Choice Of Surface Finish: Gradually, steel fasteners develop cavities and roughness, this causes small particles to get deposited on the screws which leads to stains or poor appearance of the screws. Therefore, it is important to select the optimum surface finish to achieve good resistance from corrosion.
Composition of Fasteners: Due to the lack of chromium in their composition, most of the steel screws and get rusted faster as compared to stainless steel screws which have a sufficient amount of chromium. In their composition.
Galvanic Corrosion: Galvanic corrosion is a phenomenon which occurs when two different metals corrode after being charged through electrical contact. To avoid this, we can use nylon-washers which are effective in ensuring that stainless steel fasteners do not come in contact with the other metal panels.
Maintenance: Regular maintenance and cleaning has a significant impact on the durability of fasteners. Extended exposure to water and contaminants affects the life and appearance of the fasteners. For this reason, we must ensure that planned and regular maintenance and cleaning of fasteners takes place.
How to Use Self-Drilling Screws Properly
The best way to use a self-drilling screw is with a drill or an electrical screwdriver. You can choose to create a pilot hole, which will ensure your metal screw is aligned to the hole perfectly. Pilot hole should be slightly smaller in diameter than the diameter of the screw, or else the screw’s thread won’t be able to catch effectively. Generally, self-drilling screws do not require pilot holes, and that is considered one of the benefits of using these screws. After aligning the screw to the layout, it’s time to tighten it, but make sure not to tighten it excessively. Tightening too much can strip the head of the screw making it difficult to remove the screw.
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