Sheet metal fabrication is a complex process that involves the precise cutting, bending, and assembling of various parts. An integral part of this process is the temporary attachment of sheet metal templates. Cleco fasteners, or simply Clecos, are specialized tools used in the temporary joining of these sheet metal parts, and they are particularly popular in the aerospace, automotive, and manufacturing industries. This article will focus on the method of temporarily attaching sheet metal templates with Cleco fasteners, detailing their design, operation, and applications.
Design of Cleco Fasteners
Cleco fasteners are spring-loaded devices made of steel. They consist of a cylindrical body housing a spring mechanism that operates a set of jaws. These jaws grip onto the sheet metal, holding them together. Cleco fasteners are color-coded based on the diameter of the holes they fit into, which helps in selecting the right size for specific applications.
Cleco fasteners are used to align and hold multiple sheets of metal together before permanent fastening, like welding or riveting. Their usage can be divided into the following steps:
1. Drilling Holes: Initially, the holes are drilled into the sheet metal where the permanent fasteners will later be installed. The holes must be precise, matching the diameter of the Clecos.
2. Inserting the Clecos: Using a specially designed Cleco pliers, the Cleco fasteners are inserted into the drilled holes. As the pliers compress the spring, the jaws retract, allowing the fastener to slide into the hole. Releasing the pliers allows the jaws to expand, clamping the sheets together.
3. Alignment and Adjustment: The Clecos not only hold the parts together but also help align them. If adjustments are necessary, the Clecos can be easily removed and repositioned.
4. Final Fastening: Once the sheets are aligned and temporarily secured with Cleco fasteners, permanent fastening methods like riveting or welding can be carried out.
6. Removing the Clecos: After the permanent fastening, Clecos are removed using the Cleco pliers, leaving the holes ready for final riveting or bolting.
Cleco fasteners have found their applications in various industries due to their accuracy, reliability, and ease of use. Some notable applications include:
Aerospace: In the assembly of aircraft structures, Clecos are used to hold large sheet metal parts together. They allow for precise alignment, essential for the aerodynamic properties of the aircraft.
Automotive: Clecos are commonly used in car manufacturing for aligning and holding body panels during assembly.
Construction and Manufacturing: In the production of metal goods and structural components, Cleco fasteners provide temporary support, facilitating complex alignments and assemblies.
Advantages and Considerations
Cleco fasteners offer several advantages, such as speed, flexibility, and reusability. They can drastically reduce the time required for alignment and fitting. Furthermore, their temporary nature means that adjustments can be made without causing damage to the materials.
However, proper selection and usage of Cleco fasteners are vital. Using the wrong size or over-tightening can lead to deformation or damage to the sheet metal.
Cleco fasteners are indispensable tools in modern manufacturing and fabrication, offering a practical and efficient means of temporarily attaching sheet metal templates. Their versatile design and ease of operation have made them popular across various industries. By maintaining proper guidelines and practices, Cleco fasteners can significantly enhance the speed, accuracy, and quality of sheet metal assembly, making them a valuable asset in the production process.