Standoffs and Spacers Buyer’s Guide

standoffs and spacers mf supply

7 things you need to know

According to the dictionary, a standoff is defined as “a stalemate or a deadlock between two equally matched opponents and a spacer is a piece of material used to maintain space between 2 things.   In the world of precision manufacturing, standoffs and spacers are mechanical components that are used the create space or join parts together, typically in PC boards.  Below are 7 things to know to have the most efficient buying process.

  1. What are spacers and standoffs?

Often classified as Electronic or Panel Hardware, Standoffs and Spacers are commonly used to mechanically support and electrically connect and position components within assemblies, typically in PC boards and instrument panels.

  1. What’s the difference between a standoff and a spacer?

Both standoffs and spacers have a hex or round shaped body, and 2 openings.  The main difference is that spacers are unthreaded with an inside clearance hole, and standoffs are threaded on both ends.  Threads may be male (external) r female (internal).

  1. Who uses standoffs and spacers?

Look inside an assembled circuit board, and you will be greeted by a bevy of Standoffs and Spacers, because in the world of Electronic Hardware, they are the standard for connecting and mounting circuit boards, panels, doors, and gears. Both are commonly used to properly position parts within an assembly, to reduce component contact, to elevate stacked sections, to ensure enough room for heat to dissipate, and to separate or create space between two objects. These guys are workhorses!

  1. What materials and platings are available?

Common materials include aluminum, brass, plastic/nylon and stainless steel. Common platings include clear anodized, nickel, gold iridite and zinc plated. There are over 20 common platings available! Here is a guide to most common materials:

  • Aluminumis popular because of its ratio of weight to strength. It is light, non-magnetic, performs well in severe temperatures, and has insulating properties.
  • Brassis used in making high-quality standoffs. It is conductive, resists corrosion, and is non-magnetic. It is costlier and heavier than aluminum and is usually plated zinc or nickel.
  • 18-8 Stainless Steelis strong, conductive, nonmagnetic and offers excellent corrosion resistance.
  • Nylon 6/6is superlight, nonconductive, and resistant to chemicals and solvents.

316 stainless steel, alloy and other exotic materials, and special diameters and lengths are available in certain sizes and/or for special order and usually involve a lead time.

  1. What sizes are available off the shelf?

Standard stock sizes run from 3/16 – 1/2 body diameter, 1/4 to 2” long with threads starting at 2-56 running through 1/4-20 and clearance holes ranging from #2 though 1/4”. Metric stock sizes run from M3.5-M6 body diameter with M2.5, M3 and M4 threads.  Remember, the lengths and threads available depend upon the diameter of the body and not all size configurations will be available.

As always, special lengths and sizes are available – just ask!

  1. What information should I provide to get an accurate quote?

The easiest way to order is by manufacturer part number.  If you don’t have one, you’ll need to specify body diameter, body shape (hex or round), body length, thread size & gender (male or female), material and plating.  For example, a popular standoff size is a 1/4 hex x 1/2 Long x 10-32 male Standoff in Stainless Steel.

  1. Are there other factors to consider?

YES! One surefire way to save money and shorten delivery time is to cross the OEM brand part on your bill of materials to a functional equivalent.  Popular brands include: Amatom, Concord, Globe, H.H. Smith, Lyn-tron, Microplastics, Keystone, Pem, RAF, Unicorp.

Finally, standoffs and spacers sometimes show up under their Mil-spec numbers, which can be crossed to commercial equivalents. Some common Mil-spec series include NAS42, NAS43, NAS61, NAS1056, NAS1057, NAS1829, NAS1831. Where applicable, these Mil-spec parts will be DFAR compliant with full paperwork.

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