What the heck are Precision Shoulder Screws?


Volume 8

July 23, 2014

What the heck are Precision Shoulder Screws?

Here we go again, with our “what the heck is that” series, where we discuss some of the unique fasteners and electronic hardware that manufacturers use in the design and assembly of their products. Today, we will introduce you to the Shoulder Screw.

What is a Precision Shoulder Screw? 

Shoulder Screws, which are sometimes called Shoulder Bolts or Stripper Bolts, are (generally) hex socket screws with an enlarged, unthreaded cylindrical shoulder under the head.  They are comprised of 3 main parts: the head, the shoulder and the thread.  They come in two basic categories, “Commercial” and “Precision”.

Commercial Shoulder Screws are made to inch standard ANSI ASME B18.8.2.  The size range for the shoulder diameter is from ¼ to 2”.  The thread class is 3A and the tolerance on the shoulder is +.005 /  -.005.

Precision Shoulder screws are sometimes referred to as “tight tolerance” shoulder screws. They are not governed by any official ANSI or ASME standard.  The size range for the shoulder diameter is from 3/32 to ½.  The thread class is 2A and the tolerance on the shoulder diameter varies from +.000/-.001 to  -.0005 to -.0015 depending upon the manufacturer.  Now that’s precise!

Who uses Shoulder Screws?

Just as Dowel Pins and Retaining Rings are used to locate or hold parts together within a precision assembly or a fixture, so are Precision Shoulder Screws.

Yet shoulder screws are more versatile.  When installed, the unthreaded shoulder acts as a shaft for rotating items such as bearings and bushings, precision spacing, machinery support, and motion guiding.   Precision Shoulder screws exacting tolerances make them ideal for use with other precision components.

They are broadly used across various applications in many industries, including: aerospace, electrical motors, hydraulic equipment, instrumentation, tooling and fixtures, machinery, military and many more.

What do I need to consider when selecting Shoulder Screws?

Although Shoulder Screws are offered in a multitude of materials and styles, when it comes to the main commercial and precision offerings, there are a few main issues to consider.

Which Drive and Head Style?

Precision shoulder screws are readily available in hex socket and slotted drives.  Philips drives are available in certain sizes.  Torx and Star are available for special order.  Typical head styles are a modified fillister with a flat top where the head diameter is about twice the head height.   Low head fillisters are available in certain sizes

Which material do I need?

Precision shoulder bolts are readily available in Type 18-8/303 Stainless Steel and 416 Stainless Steel.  316 Stainless Steel, Alloy and other exotic materials are available for special order.

Are there other factors to consider?

When ordering Precision Shoulder screws, specify the Shoulder Diameter, Shoulder length, thread size, material and drive type. For example, an example of a typical Precision Shoulder screw is a ¼ shoulder x ½ long x 10-32 thread in SS18-8 with a hex-socket drive.  Non-locking is the most popular style, but locking may also be available.

Precision Shoulder Bolts  often show up under their brand name.  Some of the most popular brands include: BERG, Concord, Globe, PIC, Lyn-tron and RAF. A comprehensive selection of Shoulder Screws is also offered by McMaster-Carr (tight tolerance series), MSC and Grainger.

Finally, Precision Shoulder Screws can also show up under their Mil-spec numbers, which include MS51575 & MS51576 and are DFARS compliant with full paperwork.

Precision Shoulder Screws at MF Supply

We offer:

The full range of commercial and mil-spec parts, including parts that are DFARS and ROHS compliant.

Brand names and generic equivalents.

Custom made parts per print in non-standard and exotic materials and finishes.

Inch and Metric sizes.

For more detailed information on Precision Shoulder Screws, visit us at http://www.mfsupply.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=1922

And if you don’t see it listed, as always, ask us. Finding the right screw for you is our tag line after all!


3 Comments on “What the heck are Precision Shoulder Screws?”

  1. Sam says:

    Thanks for this article on shoulder precision screws! I wouldn’t have known when to use specifically those precision screws, so this is quite helpful.

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