5 Things to Know when Comparing Fastener Brands to Generic Alternatives
This year, we’ve discussed how the trademarked brand Keensert® is often available as a Mil-Spec or generic branded key-locking insert. We also reviewed how national brands of precision shoulder screws, such as Amatom, Concord, RAF and others are also offered by McMaster-Carr (tight tolerance series), MSC, Grainger and generically.
But how exactly do you determine which categories of fasteners cross to generic alternatives? This guide offers creative solutions including when to cross, and how to save money and reduce long lead times by using brand alternatives.
1. What is a functional equivalent when it comes to fasteners and precision components?
You can find hundreds of registered trademark-branded fasteners and components in the industrial marketplace. Much like brand-name pharmaceuticals such as Tylenol and Advil are available generically (as acetaminophen and ibuprofen), some brand name fasteners are also available as “generics,” “crosses,” “alternatives” or “functional equivalents.”
In the world of fasteners, a functional equivalent fastener is a part that is the same as the brand-name product in form, fit and function, including material and plating specifications.
2. How can I determine if I must use the brand name or if I can cross to a generic part?
Before you shop, check the bill of materials to see if it specifically calls out a particular brand name along with the part number. If no specific manufacturer’s name is listed, then you can typically use a functional equivalent.
Use this handy 4 point checklist as your guide:
- Does your bill of materials specifically call for the OEM brand-name fastener or component?
- Can you live with the lead time or will having parts sooner improve delivery of the final product?
- Will your supplier provide a certificate of conformance?
- Will saving money help you be more competitive?
3. What categories of fasteners are available as generic or functional equivalents?
Popular categories include adhesives and sealants, anchors, bits and nutsetters, cage nuts, flex type lock nuts, handles, Keenserts, knurled thumb screws, nylon insert stop nuts, precision shoulder screws, retaining rings, rivets & blind threaded inserts, self-clinching, fasteners, spacers and standoffs, speed clips, spring nuts, weld nuts, weld studs, and woodworking screws.
4. What brands of fasteners should I consider crossing to their generic or functional equivalent?
3 STAR RIVETS USA, ABBATRON®, ALCOA, AMATOM®, APEX®, ARCONIC®, ATLAS®, AVDEL®, AVK®, B. F. GOODRICH, BOLLHOFF, BUCKEYE, CAPTIVE, CELUS®, CHERRY®, CONCORD, FASTENAL, GESIPA®, GRIPCO®, GLOBE ELECTRONICS, H. H. SMITH, HUCK, INDUX, INTERFAST, KEYSTONE, LOCTITE®, LYN-TRON, MACLEANESNA®, MARSON®, MCMASTER-CARR, MISUMI, MSC INDUSTRIAL, PEM®, PIC DESIGN®, POP®, POWERS®, QUICKSCREWS, RAF, RED HEAD®, ROTOR CLIP®, SHEREX, SIMPSON, SOUTHCO®, SPS TECHNOLOGIES, TINNERMAN®, U. S. ANCHOR. VIP, W. M. BERG, W. W. GRAINGER, WALDES TRUARC®.
5. What are the advantages of using functional equivalents?
Brand names are great, and when they are in stock, available and required by your customer, then you can buy them with confidence in their quality. However, 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.
Supplying a full range of fastener products and services, MF Supply is an authorized distributor of Amatom/Carey, Captive (Pem equivalent), Chrislynn Inserts, Concord, EZ-Lok, Lok-mor, Lyn-tron, Microplastics, Shear-loc, S&M Retaining Rings, and Unicorp, as well as a distribution partner for many others. We have an expertise in dowel pins, inserts and Keenserts and domestic and Mil-Spec products.
We provide functional equivalents to expensive brand name fasteners and help our customers save money while reducing long lead times. Check out our recent case study where a functional equivalent was substituted for an OEM brand, reducing costs by 37% and shaving lead time. This time and money savings gave the manufacturer an advantage over their competition, which helped them win the job.
For more detailed information about brands we commonly cross, visit our website. And if you don’t see it listed, as always, ask us. “Finding the right screw for you” is our tag line after all!
MF Supply is a WBE/WOSB certified stocking distributor of precision fasteners and electronic components, specializing in precision hardware including precision shoulder screws. For more than 40 years, we have been supplying manufacturers in the electronics, industrial, commercial, aerospace and military markets with the full range of fastener products and services.
January 28, 2015
Here we are, at the end of January 2015 already! Time to get back on track with our monthly “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, our topic is Blind or “POP”® rivets.
A Blind rivet is a 2 part preassembled fastener that consists of a hollow tubular body with a head called the rivet, and a nail-like mandrel set inside the rivet that breaks off during installation. Blind rivets are often referred to as “Pop” rivets, because “POP”® is the brand name of the original blind rivet manufacturer. A cute fact is that “Pop” is the sound these rivets make during the assembly process.
Who uses Blind Rivets?
Blind rivets are all around us! They are typically used to assemble thin sheet metal (usually under 1″ thick) and are abundant in aircrafts. Unlike screws and nuts, which require access from both sides to join material, Blind rivets can be installed when you only have access to one side of the material being fastened. So you can see where the name “blind comes from!
What styles of Blind rivets are available?
The 4 most common rivets styles are:
1) Open End – the most widely used style, often referred to as break-stem.
2) Closed End – are used when water and vapor resistance are required.
3) Multigrip – can be used in varying material thickness, to deal with oversized holes, and to reduce inventory and replace unnecessary sizes.
4) Bulbex – commonly used in soft materials and fiberglass, this rivet distributes loads evenly and protects fragile materials.
Some other Blind rivet styles include Orlock, Peel and Structural.
What else do I need to consider when it comes to Blind Rivets?
Although all rivet styles don’t come in all sizes, materials and head styles, when selecting the proper rivet for your application, here are the main choices you will have to consider:
– Hole size or diameter of the rivet body.
– Grip range – the minimum and maximum thickness or “grip” of the material being fastened by the rivet. The grip range is NOT the length of the rivet body.
– Strength – The tensile strength (pull force before breaking) and shear strength (force to break a rivet from the side) required for an application must be determined to select the proper rivet.
– Material – Choose a rivet made of a metal with similar mechanical and physical properties as the materials being joined to reduce the risk of galvanic corrosion and material fatigue. The most common options are all aluminum, all steel, all stainless, aluminum rivet/steel mandrel and stainless steel rivet/steel mandrel.
– Head Style – Common styles are domed, large flange and flat head/countersunk.
“POP”® has a cool Blind rivet configurator (yes, they call it a configurator!) Check it out by clicking here:
Lesson Learned when it comes to Blind rivets:
- The 2 most popular brand name rivets offered are Pop/Avdel, owned by Stanley Black and Decker, and Marson, owned by Alcoa Fastening systems. Other common brands include Huck, Cherry and Gesipa. You can order by brand name or ask for generic alternatives.
- Rivet sizing can seem confusing but when you break it down it is quite simple. Rivets are generally referred to by their diameter and maximum grip range (i.e. 1/8 x 5/16 is a 1/8 hole diameter x 5/16 maximum grip or material thickness) with a call out for the material and the head style. Note: The rivet body length is not measured for sizing.
- You might also see rivets by the trade or brand part number, i.e. AD45ABS, AB4-5A. The first number (4) refers to the diameter of the rivet in 32nds of an inch (4/32=1/8). The second number (5) refers to the max grip size in 16th of inch (5/16=5/16).
- Rivets require an installation tool and cannot be installed manually.
- Check out this nifty video for more info: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aoXmzdSf_I
- Blind rivets adhere to IFI standard 114 Break mandrel rivets.
- Sizes available vary based on the style. The general diameter range is from 3/32 x 1/4 with grip ranges from .062-1-3/8.
- Blind Rivets at MF Supply
The full range of Blind rivet Brand names and generic equivalents.
- Custom made parts per print.
- For more detailed information on Blind rivets, visit us at
And if you don’t see it listed, as always, ask us. Finding the right screw for you is our tag line after all!