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Top tips from bolting expert

Bolted got a unique opportunity to meet ­Japan’s foremost expert in bolting, Doctor ­Tomotsugu Sakai. His book Bolted Joint Engineering – Fundamentals and Applications continues to receive an enormous amount of support as the definitive work on bolt fastening.

First published in Bolted #1 2017.

How do you define ideal fastening, which you also covered in your book?
“Ideally, fastening should be based on the use of widely available, standardised fasteners, rather than specially designed parts. More importantly, ideal fastening should ensure a bolt fastening design that won’t lead to any kind of failure. The entire product design becomes invalid if a single failure occurs. You must pay attention to every aspect. I consider ‘evaluation without any omission’ most important.”

Is using lubricants an advantage in bolt fastening?
“Yes, if the fastened objects don’t slip against each other, lowering the friction coefficient is favourable in all aspects. If fastened objects are in a ‘loosening environment’, they are more likely to loosen if the friction coefficient is low, but it does not necessarily lead to loosening.

They are in a ‘loosening environment’ if they are repeatedly subject to slip against each other with a force exceeding a certain threshold.

How do external forces cause slip, based on shear direction, axial direction and torsion?

“If an external force is applied in the shear direction, it would cause slip. If it is applied in the axial direction, the fastened objects would separate from each other – separation. Under these conditions, the lower the friction coefficient, the more likely loosening is to occur.

When writing Bolted Joint Engineering – Fundamentals and Applications, I used the conventional view of the slip phenomenon, explaining the slip of fastened objects on the contact surface – so-called ‘macro-slip’. You can observe this with your eye, as this type of slip needs to be only 0.1 mm for visual confirmation. Around 1988, it was found that invisible ‘micro-slip’ actually occurs before the macro-slip and that it causes rotation, which is so micro that, whether turned in the direction of loosening or not, it can’t be confirmed with the naked eye. This phenomenon, ‘micro-slip’, gradually diminishes the axial force. It was introduced in an article in the Journal of the Japan Society for Precision Engineering.

“If fastened objects are in contact with each other, conventional experiments can’t measure the slip amount of a certain section of the contact surface or of other sections. But all of these values can be calculated using the finite element method, FEM. It has been used in the fastener industry since around 2000 and today most research on threaded fasteners utilises it. An article by Doctor Satoshi Izumi et al. in 2006 announced that gradual rotational loosening was found to occur with micro-slip (invisible minute slip)rather than macro-slip (clear, visible slip). I was shocked when I first read the article, which states that when micro-slip occurs repeatedly, it causes minute rotational loosening as small as 1 degree per 1,000 times or 1/1000 degree each time. A 1/1000-degree rotation is not at all observable to the eye. With the finite element method, it can be studied perfectly and it was demonstrated that micro-slip causes rotational loosening. I felt I was in trouble! [Laughs] The results drastically shook the concept of critical amount of slip.
I had thought that micro-slip would naturally lead to fretting wear, but didn’t consider that it could cause rotational loosening. I had no way of testing that at the time. It was an eye-opening experience.”

Facts: Micro-slip
A slip not visible to the naked eye. Gradually diminishing the clamp force, it can ultimately lead to visible rotational loosening (macro-slip). Settlements and relaxation of the material can also decrease the clamp force. Nord-Lock Group has developed X-series washers that deal with both forms of slip. They counteract all kinds of clamp force losses with the spring effect, while the wedge effect prevents spontaneous bolt loosening.

Facts: Doctor Tomotsugu Sakai

  • 1941 – Born in Okazaki City, Japan
  • 1979 – After working for Toyota Motor Corporation, receives his doctoral degree in engineering, mainly engaging in the strength and durability testing, research and development of various automobile parts.
  • 2001 – Transfers to Toyota Techno Service Corp, engaging in education and technical consultation for threaded fasteners.
  • 2007 – Retires and establishes Sakai Consulting Office on Bolted Joint Engineering, where he provides education and technical consultation for bolt fastening to this day.


► Video: Multifunctional Nord-Lock X-series washers

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Washers triple-protect nuclear transports

23 February 2018

Text: Ulrich Schamari

photo: ILLUSTRATIONS: Daher Nuclear Technologies

First published in Bolted #2 2017.


Daher Nuclear Technologies GmbH, located in Hanau close to Frankfurt am Main, Germany, develops containers for transportation of radioactive substances. For obvious reasons, these containers must be extremely safe.

Designing a new container for uranium hexafluoride transports, the company had to consider the very stringent international and national requirements, including the recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for transport by road, rail and sea. A container that fulfils these requirements must, for example, be resistant to the mechanical and thermal loads that can occur in case of an accident.

These mechanical accident loads are defined by a sequence of tests that include a 120-centimetre fall, followed by a 9-metre fall, followed by a fall from 1 metre onto a spike. The container must remain sealed, so that the subsequent thermal test, a fire, doesn’t jeopardise the container’s safety.


Daher set out to design the container locks so that the locking bolts would, under no condition, come loose or be lost during the loading of the container onto a lorry or during transport. The company’s intensive search for the optimal solution led to Nord-Lock wedge-locking washers of type NL16-254SMO. These safety washers are an important component in Daher’s triple-protected locking system: the lock is secured with a bolt, which in turn is locked in position by another bolt. The wedge-locking washers from Nord-Lock are located under the second of these bolts. Each container has six locks and each lock is equipped with a Nord-Lock washer pair.


Thanks to the use of Nord-Lock wedge-locking technology, the locking systems on the Daher transport container for the nuclear industry can no longer be worn by vibrations or stress, but remain tightly and securely locked. Daher was also pleased to find how cost-effective the use of the Nord-Lock product is, and how easy the maintenance is. If needed, the wedge-locking washers can be replaced at any time to ensure that the transport containers remain in top condition. The containers have a service life of more than 30 years – something that the Nord-Lock washers contribute to.

The Experts: Improving fatigue resistance

First published in Bolted #2 2015.

A: The fatigue capacity of a bolted joint is very small, as compared to its static capacity. To improve fatigue resistance, designers can increase the thread capacity and decrease the alternating stresses at the threads.

To increase the thread capacity, it is recommended to use a rolled thread instead of a cutting process. To increase the bolted joint capacity, utilize multiple smaller fasteners instead of a single larger fastener.

The capacity is also increased by using an improved connector, such as a Superbolt MJT (Multi-Jackbolt Fastener) or Flexnut, which improves the load distribution in the threads and adds elasticity to the bolted joint.

The best way to improve fatigue resistance is to reduce the alternating stresses at the threads. There are three main ways of doing this: Assembly design, assembly tightening, and assembly security.

The assembly design process provides an opportunity for improvement of the load distribution on bolted joints and to reduce the level of external stresses supported by each joint. To facilitate that, keep these principals in mind:

1. Use the highest possible preload
2. Minimize the bolt to load eccentricity
3. Use the largest possible contact surfaces
4. Use the largest possible clamping lengths
5. In most cases, use a preload higher than the working load

Other assembly design options include the use of necked-down studs or bolts, and the use of elastic washers, which counter the effects of relaxation, creeping, and thermal differential elongation.

With regard to assembly tightening, achieving the necessary preload is the main factor in reducing alternating stresses. It is recommended to use calibrated tools with high accuracy. It is also recommended to use a proper lubricant to achieve preload accuracy, and to reduce the risk of seizing. A suitable tightening sequence should be used to mitigate the risk of un-evenly loaded bolts and to ensure overall bolted joint integrity.

Regarding assembly security, it is recommended to secure the bolted joint against loss of preload. Further, secure the assembly against environmental effects, such as corrosion that could initiate a fatigue crack. This may be done through the selection of suitable materials and/or coatings for parts and fasteners.


Do you have a question about bolt securing?
Put the Nord-Lock experts to the test.
Email your questions about bolt securing to

How do you choose the right size of Nord-Lock washer?


In this video we explain how you choose the right size of washer for your bolted joints.

► Read more: Introduction to Nord-Lock washers

► Video: Junker vibration test with Nord-Lock wedge-locking washers

Cheaper but better solution for tractors with washers

4 January 2018

Text: Ekin Calisir

photo: Hattat

First published in Bolted #2 2017.


A producer of agricultural vehicles for close to 20 years, Turkish company Hattat Traktör knows that, when the going gets tough, it is the durability and reliability of their products that save the day. The company’s customers often deal with rugged terrain for long periods, racing against time to maintain productivity, so their machinery must be able to withstand tough conditions such as handling vibration.

Early in 2017, when Hattat Traktör was testing a new tractor model, they realized that the joints on the air compressor–engine connection bracket were loosening because of vibration. According to the company’s vibration analysis, this problem could have been solved by a costly and time-consuming change in the bracket design, or by replacing the loosening bolts with stronger ones.

At this point, the company’s research and development department started looking for new components for their design. After days of research and evaluation, they found Nord-Lock washers, which had the potential to save them from a more costly solution.

During the tests, Nord-Lock washers proved that they could solve the problem, and this solution was much cheaper than having to change the bracket design. With Nord-Lock washers in place, the vibration caused no more loosening, to the relief of Hattat Traktör customers, who can now rely on their red tractors, even under the harshest conditions.

No more loose screws on giant quay cranes

29 November 2017

Text: Roxana Ortiz

photo: Paceco

First published in Bolted #2 2017.


Offering cranes, services and systems to the container-handling industry, engineering company Paceco España (Spain) must adjust to its customers’ needs. As ships get bigger, quay and yard cranes must increase height and reach, while also becoming more efficient. Today, Paceco España can load and offload ships from 25 container lines. The company currently produces one of the largest and most efficient cranes on the market, the Portainer Malaccamax, which maximally offers a 72.5-metre outreach, a 52.5-metre clearance under spreader, and a 30.48-metre rail span.

Paceco España first connected with Nord-Lock in 2009, when there was a problem with one of the company’s quay cranes. The crane, with a 65-ton load capacity, had problems with the fixing of the gantry reducers – the gearboxes that move the quay crane along the dock. During operation, the fixing screws vibrated loose.

During their problem analyses, Paceco España’s engineers connected with Nord-Lock and when it presented a solution, Paceco España was pleasantly surprised. “We have been using their washers since 2009, and haven’t had any problems with bolted connections being subject to vibrations since then,” says engineer Pelayo Bobes. “With Nord-Lock washers, we have been able to provide total customer satisfaction and in turn saved both money and time.”

Matching washers and bolts of different materials

First published in Bolted #2 2017.

Q: Can I use Nord-Lock stainless steel washers with steel bolts?

A: You can, as there is no difference in thread pitch between steel and stainless steel bolts. However, it is always best to use the same material for all parts of the joint. If you use a stainless steel washer together with high-strength fasteners of grade 10.9 or 12.9, you might deform the washers. These are only surface-hardened, and with a very high pre-load, the softer inside might incur “plastic deformation”. Steel bolts of grade 8.8 or lower might work in many applications, since the mechanical strength of grade 8.8 is similar to the one for stainless steel washers.

Another important aspect to consider when designing a bolted joint, including stainless steel washers and steel bolts, is corrosion, especially so-called galvanic corrosion, which may reduce the product life dramatically. Galvanic corrosion damage is induced when two dissimilar materials are coupled in an electrolyte. When a galvanic couple forms, one of the metals becomes the anode and corrodes faster than it would by itself. The other material becomes the cathode and corrodes slower than it would alone. Nord-Lock steel washers with Delta Protekt coating use the principle of controlled galvanic corrosion. Zinc material in this coating protects the cathode (the washer steel material).


Do you have a question about bolt securing?
Put the Nord-Lock experts to the test.
Email your questions about bolt securing to

New issue of Bolted magazine out now!

The 2017 September issue of Bolted magazine is available now! As with every issue we have filled the magazine with interesting cases and insights from the world of bolting.

In this edition, our theme article focus on lug wear which is a common issue for pivot joints. But why does it occur, what solutions exist and do they solve the root cause of the problem?

You will find out more about Expander System in our customer case, where we visited Danish company Viggo Benz who delivers solutions and equipment for crushing, demolition and sorting.

Also, see how Nord-Lock washers secure containers that transport radioactive substances, where there is no room for equipment failure.

Last but not least, don’t miss out on how and why we now offer lifetime warranty throughout our product range.

Bolted magazine is available in 9 languages – download them now:

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