Welcome to our ongoing “What the heck is that” series, where we discuss some of the unique fasteners and electronic hardware that precision manufacturers use in the design and assembly of their products. If you sell to the military either directly or indirectly, then you are probably aware of today’s topic: “DFARS” and “Mil-spec fasteners”.
What does Mil-spec mean anyway?
Before we get into the nitty gritty of DFARS, let’s discuss what makes a “Mil-spec” fastener. Mil-spec is the informal name for the military standard the U.S. Department of Defense uses in the production of military equipment. Mil-spec fasteners are usually designated by an AN, MS, NAS or NASM prefix followed by a part number. Each of these prefixes is an abbreviation: NAS stands for National Aerospace Standard and MS stands for Military Standard. For example, the MS24693C pictured above is a fastener produced according to military standards.
Mil-spec fasteners look a lot like their civilian cousins, but, these little guys are made to a specific standard that defines in detail, the screw’s attributes, including: dimensions, tensile strength, hardness, threads, drive type, material qualities and plating, just to name a few. Mil-spec fasteners are even traceable by lot to designated manufacturers. The government maintains a list of factories and suppliers who are qualified to manufacture and distribute Mil-spec fasteners. These suppliers have met all the government’s requirements and pass the highest quality control standards. This designation is called the Qualified Suppliers List for Manufacturer’s [QSLM].
Who uses Mil-spec Fasteners?
Mil-spec fasteners are used by anyone manufacturing or servicing military equipment. Often, the bill of materials calls for specific Mil-spec grade fasteners in accordance with a part number, drawing or procurement requirement. Some of the most common uses of Mil-spec fasteners include aerospace and naval vessels.
Now, tell me about DFARS…
Almost a decade ago, the term “DFARS Compliant Material” came to the forefront for companies supplying parts and services to the government. The original Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clause 252.225-7014 specified “A Preference for Domestic Specialty Metals.” What that means in our world is that for fasteners to be DFARS compliant, the metal used to fabricate them must be melted or manufactured in the United States or a qualifying country.
The Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement declares the following:
- Provides specific acquisition regulations that must be followed in the procurement process for goods and services for the Department of Defense and its contactors.
- FAR 252.225-7014 specifies “A Preference for Domestic Specialty Metals” in the manufacturing of fasteners. Berry Act, Buy American.
- The Specialty metals must be melted and manufactured in the United States or a “Qualifying country.”
What is a Qualifying Country?
Qualifying country” means a country with a reciprocal defense procurement memorandum of understanding or international agreement with the United States in which both countries agree to remove barriers to purchases of supplies produced in the other country or services performed by sources of the other country, and the memorandum or agreement complies, where applicable, with the requirements of section 36 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2776) and with 10 U.S.C. 2457.
Qualifying countries include the following 27: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
To keep up to date with DFARs requirements, visit
What is a Specialty Metal?
Title 48 – Federal Acquisition Regulations System, 252.225-7014 Preference for domestic specialty metals.
SPECIALTY METAL DEFINITION
(I) WHERE THE MAXIMUM ALLOY CONTENT EXCEEDS ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING LIMITS: MANGANESE, 1.65 PERCENT; SILICON, 0.60 PERCENT; OR COPPER, 0.60 PERCENT; OR
(II) WHICH CONTAINS MORE THAN 0.25 PERCENT OF ANY OF THE FOLLOWING ELEMENTS: ALUMINUM, CHROMIUM, COBALT, COLUMBIUM, MOLYBDENUM, NICKEL, TITANIUM, TUNGSTEN, OR VANADIUM;
(2) METAL ALLOYS CONSISTING OF NICKEL, IRON-NICKEL, AND COBALT BASE ALLOYS CONTAINING A TOTAL OF OTHER ALLOYING METALS (EXCEPT IRON) IN EXCESS OF TEN PERCENT;
(3) TITANIUM AND TITANIUM ALLOYS; OR
(4) ZIRCONIUM AND ZIRCONIUM BASE ALLOYS.
Specialty Metals Include:
- Stainless steel
- High alloy steel like Grade-BD
- Cobalt Chrome Alloys or Grade 5 Chromium steel with high chromium content
- Nickel Alloys
Aluminum, Carbon Steel & Copper Alloys are not specialty metals and cannot be DFARS.
What is the difference between Domestic & DFARS?
This is a great question! There are 3 main factors used to determine the country where a fastener is made and how they are classified. 1) The origin of the metal 2) the country of melt and 3) the country of manufacture.
DFARs only related to specialty metals, and the country of melt & manufacture. Check with your customer before making any assumptions about what “domestic” means to them. 100% Domestic (metal origin, melt & manufacture) is becoming harder and harder to find. Many products are not available off the shelf and are “made to order” if DFARS or domestic is needed. This will involve a lead time and may have a minimum lot charge.
Lessons Learned: Considerations when purchasing MS24693C or other Mil-spec DFARs fasteners
- Always ask for “full certifications”. This includes part name, part description, date of manufacture, lot number, chemical composition of material, and treatment of material including plating or passivation.
- At point of purchase, make sure the screws are DFARS. If you do not specifically ask for DFARS-compliant screws, you might receive screws that don’t meet the DFARS requirements, in which case, they won’t meet military standards. We’ve learned this the hard way so hopefully you don’t have to!
August 25, 2015
We hope this email finds you well and business is booming! I’m writing to thank you for your business, update you on what’s happening here at MF Supply and ask for your feedback.
We’ve been busy! Recently, MF Supply renewed both our Woman Owned Business Certification [WBE] and our status as federal supplier [Cage Code 58QG4]. So exciting! In April, I was selected to the SBA Emerging Leaders class of 2015. In June, I spoke about Pay per Click advertising at the NJTMA conference, and in September, I am scheduled to speak at training at Festo Didactic in Eatontown, NJ.
OUR THREE CURRENT INITIATIVES
As part of our growth plan, I am currently working on three initiatives: 1) Building upon our business relationships with existing loyal clients like you; 2) Growing our business through referrals from clients and referral partners; and 3) Thought leadership and helping the American manufacturing community grow. Today, I am reaching out regarding initiative #1.
Recently, I was interviewing a great client for one of my SBA-EL projects. After over 20 years of business together, he was not 100% familiar with the full scope of MF Supply’s capabilities. One of the questions I asked him was, “Does our marketing material encourage you to make a purchase?” His response was, “I don’t think I am familiar with your marketing material.” SHAME ON US! That is the lead in to the next section of this newsletter.
HELP US HELP YOU
Take a moment and think about two questions:
1) Are you familiar with all the products we can help you with and all the problems we can solve for you?
2) Do you have a wish list or feedback regarding other products or services where we might add value?
We continually expand our product line, and have recently added Spring Plungers, EZ-Lok inserts, Keenserts, Military and Domestic Dowel Pins, a full line of Mil-spec DFAR products with full certifications, Retaining and much more! As a reminder, below is a list of some of the things we do to save you time and money, and to make the buying process easier:
- McMaster-Carr, Grainger, MSC, Newark Electronics, Fastenal – We can help you save on stainless steel, metric, inserts, dowel pins, retaining rings, loctite alternatives and more!
- Alternatives to expensive brand name fasteners – we can help you save thousands of dollars on alternatives to Concord, RAF, Southco, PEM, Heli-coil, Loctite and many others!
- Sourcing hard to find parts quickly – Let us do the hard work for you and save you precious time.
- Custom manufacturing/Short lead times needed – Send us your prints and let us show you what we can do, fast, right here in the USA.
- Domestic and Mil-spec – Try us for your domestic, DFARS and military needs. We are tremendously excellent at Stainless Steel, Keenserts, Helical Inserts and Dowel Pins!
- Industrial Rubber products- Including hoses, hose clamps, gaskets, o-rings and more.
- Our Brands- Amatom/Carey, Captive (Pem), Chrislynn Inserts,Concord, EZ-Lok, Lyn-tron, Microplastics, Shear-loc, S&M Retaining Rings, Unicorp and we are a supply chain partner to many others!
EASY WAYS WE CAN HELP YOU IMMEDIATELY
Please send us samples, prints and competitor’s or manufacturer’s part numbers to quote. We look forward to the opportunity to knock your socks off by helping you with both existing and new products and services.
MF Supply is a distributor of Vibra-Tite threadlocking products, one of the world’s market leaders in anaerobics, cyanoacrylates, epoxies and ultra-violet technologies.Vibra-Tite materials can be compared to other name brand products like Loctite, but at a COST SAVING OF UP TO 40%. Send us your Loctite RFQs so you can do a comparison.
I’d like to close this Newsletter with some comic relief. Enjoy the video by clicking here!
P.S. If you would like to chat about the SBA-Emerging Leaders class and learn more about some of the amazing books (Duct Tape Marketing) and resources (the UCEDC) I’ve accessed through the class – shoot me an email. I love to share! –