22 October 2018
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Climbing the heights

Böllhoff’s RIVKLE blind rivet nuts have been helping climbers take big steps forward when it comes to maintaining their skills and fitness levels

When it came to climbers having the right application when embarking on an ascent, two significant requirements came into play: a high-strength dependable fastening, capable of firmly attaching climbing ‘handles’ to a polyester/glassfibre climbing wall, but which would also allow the handles to be removed and reinstalled swiftly should the need arise.

This need for ‘instant’ demountability, coupled with the demand for high pull-out strength and absolute fastening integrity, presented a unique challenge to the Böllhoff engineering team. They tested a variety of potential solutions prior to delivering a proposal that saw M10 RIVKLE rivet nuts specified as the safest and most practical solution for attaching the handles.

RIVKLE was developed specifically for applications requiring a high load-bearing (threaded) blind fastening, with exceptional pull-out resistance when used in thin-walled materials – as here with the climbing wall. Essentially a rivet nut set into a special elastomer or thermoplastic material, RIVKLE is inserted into a drilled hole in the host material and held in place by unique clamping nodules until the threaded fastener (in this case, attaching the climbing handle) is torqued up as required.

Since the metal part of the nut is only joined to the elastomer in the lower area of the fastener, as it is tightened a bulge forms against the inner face of the host material. This feature helps to provide the load distribution and pull-out resistance for which RIVKLE is recognised and which the climbers clearly see as beneficial. In addition to specialist applications, such as the climbing wall described here, RIVKLE is also found in many general industrial, as well as automotive applications. Design engineers have been won over by its additional attributes of good vibration and noise dampening, together with electrical and thermal insulation and tolerance compensation. Concurrently, production teams have praised RIVKLE for its ease of installation and ongoing re-usability.

Meanwhile, at a more grounded, but equally challenging, level, Böllhoff engineers have come up with an innovative mounting solution for German motorhome manufacturer Burstner – recognised as a premium brand in a market that has really taken off over recent years. In the UK alone, 12,232 new motorhomes were registered in 2016, according to the National Caravan Council.

When IT designed the Ixeo I 736 motorhome, Burstner engineers needed to design a tail light assembly that was aesthetically pleasing, but also easy to replace in the event of sustaining damage or for routine bulb replacement throughout the lifetime of the vehicle.

Given that replacing a bulb could be a ‘by the roadside and at night’ event, the design team was keen to avoid the plethora of screws and washers often found in such applications. They wanted a solution that not only looked tidy with an ‘invisible’ fixing, but also one which was quick and easy to install on the production line and could be removed and replaced with ease by successive owners over the years with no special tools or experience required.

Böllhoff fastener engineers worked in partnership with their colleagues at Burstner and suggested the use of its unique SNAPLOC fastener, an innovation introduced by Böllhoff specifically for such applications.

SNAPLOC is a two-part fixing system, made from steel fasteners which are overmoulded with glass filled nylon engineering plastic to deliver light weight and exceptional corrosion resistance. The two parts consist of a ball stud on the one hand and a receptor coupling on the other. To fit the light unit during body assembly and finishing at the Burstner factory, the end of the ball stud, which is threaded, is screwed into a mounting on the motor home’s back wall.

With the matching receptors installed into the back plate of the light unit, coupling is effected by simply pushing the rear light assembly against the body mounts on the rear of the motorhome and the unit is snapped into place. Dismounting is the reverse, takes no special tools and is quick and clean too. The anticipated lifetime of each SNAPLOC is said to be almost limitless.

“SNAPLOC is simplicity, efficiency and has the added advantage of re-usability where required” says Böllhoff industry sales manager Clive Brown. “Just push-on to assemble, pull-off to remove.”

Brown further states that an added advantage experienced by SNAPLOC users is that the system also offers simple tolerance compensation for accurate alignment and elimination of stress cracking if the shell and lens are not perfectly aligned. SNAPLOC can be specified with differing thread and plastic/metal options too. Ball studs with both external and internal threads are available, including self-tapping external threads.

On every Burstner Ixeo I 736, eight SNAPLOC systems, each with a diameter of 10 mm, are used. The currently available ball size range includes 7, 8 and 15mm, as well as the 10mm used on the Ixeo 1 736.

SNAPLOC has proved itself in a wide variety of other automotive and non-automotive applications where hidden mounting is required, together with quick and easy assembly/disassembly on demand. For example, BMW motorcyclists (which includes many police operators across Europe, as well as high-mileage touring riders worldwide) continue to reflect on the advantages of SNAPLOC, as they monitor following traffic in their rear-view mirrors.

On some BMW motorcycle models, the SNAPLOC system is what attaches the wing mirrors to the fairings, delivering a clear, vibration-free view of what is going on behind. Another significant advantage in this application is that, should the machine fall over when being manhandled, the wing mirrors are designed to absorb some on the initial shock loading. Capable of detaching in this situation, if necessary, the mirrors can often be quickly remounted to allow a rider’s journey to continue in safety, since they are affixed using SNAPLOC.

Brian Wall

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Bollhoff Ltd


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