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Securing components: How fasteners can be used for security

11 September 2018
The global climate has changed considerably over the last few decades in regards to the way that we work, communicate and move around. The development of mass air travel, smartphones and other technology has completely transformed the way in which we operate our daily lives, but has also led to the need for more security systems to protect these advancements.  
Why are security fasteners needed?
Whilst these technological innovations have become crucial assets in modern society, that we rely on for the everyday functioning of our lives, a new set of risks and dangers have evolved alongside these developments in technology. Thieves and vandals often target technology that houses expensive components, and immoral individuals may wish to tamper with safety-critical components, such as on passenger aircrafts, which could result in risk to human life. 
Manufacturers of technology have to be aware of these heightened risks and therefore design their products to not only function as intended, but to lessen any potential risks by reducing the ability for the product to be tampered with. Within these design considerations, security fasteners have taken a primary role. 
How do security fasteners differ from standard fasteners?
The basic function of security fasteners remains the same as standard fasteners; they hold components or product structures together. However, their real use is to make it very difficult for them to be removed from their fitting. 
Manufactured in all shapes and sizes, new patented designs of security fasteners are consistently being developed to stay ahead of the market, or are designed solely for a new product. 
It is crucial that security fasteners are tamper-resistant and vandal-proof; in order to maintain the functionality of the product they are part of, regardless of the environment, as they are often protecting expensive or function-critical electrical components.
How do security fasteners work?
Security fasteners are designed in various ways, primarily by incorporating innovative technology made to prevent anyone from undoing them without specialist equipment or training. Usually, the drive on these fasteners is an unusual shape and requires a non-standard, speciality tool to fasten and unfasten. With a quick glance, some of them appear to be able to be removed with a readily available tool, but they may have other features that prevent standard tools from working on them, such as pins in the middle of the drive head. 
Secondly, the drive and screw head may be completely different, or may appear to not have a drive for a tool at all. An example of this would be the 2-hole drive security screws (known as pig-nosed fittings) that have two holes in the head which can be set at varying distance apart, ensuring that only bespoke tools can be used to remove them. 
There are also security fasteners that permit a standard tool to install them, but not to remove them. These are known as 1-way security fasteners. With these designs, the outward shape of the screw may be very different to its actual shape when fastened into the product. 
Security nuts are designed to prevent their removal by often having a tapered diameter, making them resistant to gripping devices and ensuring that their removal is difficult using standardised tools. 
In addition, it’s possible to design security fasteners to have increased frictional resistance within the bolt, limiting rotation and thus making it substantially more difficult to allow the nut to be loosened and removed. These additional features also make it far more difficult for the fasteners to be removed if they are altered; for instance, if a new head is welded onto the head of the security fastener in an attempt to make it removable with a more standard tool. 
Available in a range of sizes, these fasteners can be used across product types and variations and be adjusted to specific environments or requirements. By implementing security and tamper-resistant engineering right at the beginning of the product development phase, we can ensure we are doing all we can to contribute to a safer and more secure world.
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Industry Connections: TR Fastenings Ltd

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