8 Common Hardware Options for Precision Sheet Metal Fabrications (Updated for 2024)

Last updated on January 23rd, 2024 at 12:01 pm

Do you know how to select the right hardware for your precision sheet metal fabrication?

Many types of hardware accomplish the same end goal—for example, all fasteners connect parts—but there is a massive variety of hardware to choose from.

Generally, hardware can vary by type, material, thread code, thickness, shank, and length. Making the ideal selection for your part can be overwhelming, but don’t worry: Approved Sheet Metal is here to make the decision process much easier.

8 Types of Hardware Used by Metal Fabricators

Let’s look at eight common hardware options for precision sheet metal fabrications:

  • PEM nuts. While known in the industry as PEM nuts, these parts are simply fasteners manufactured by PennEngineering. If PennEngineering doesn’t make the part, it’s called a self-clinching fastener, a threaded insert, or a captive fastener. A PEM nut is threaded onto another component, such as a standoff.
  • Standoffs. Standoff fasteners are frequently used for the spacing and precision placement of other components. These fasteners are threaded into a nut.
  • Studs. A stud is a threaded bar of varying length and circumference. Studs are meant to be permanently attached to another part, often a nut, and can be welded, swaged, or bonded. Studs often resemble a screw without the flared head, though some studs do have a head on one end.
  • Panel fasteners. Sometimes called captive panel screws, panel fasteners are similar to standard screws and have smooth or knurled caps. Most of these parts are designed for smaller applications and have a low profile.
  • TY-D tie-down. A TY-D tie-down is critical for cable management. The hardware has a square body with an eye to provide a secure way to guide cables and wire through an application. It’s self-clinching and doesn’t rely on screws or adhesives to hold it in place.
  • Pins. Self-clinching pins are similar to studs, but they don't have threads. They can be produced in tiny sizes, and micro-pins are essential parts for today’s electronics, such as smartphones and smartwatches.
  • Floating nuts and screws. Also known as floating self-clinching fasteners, floating nuts and screws have locking and non-locking threads. These parts can provide load-bearing strength in thin sheets.
  • Locking nuts. Locking nuts and fasteners resist loosening and being “unlocked” when they experience vibration or movement. They have an internally threaded fastener with locking capabilities.

Sheet Metal Hardware Hole Sizes Chart


Hardware hole sizes are the number one thing sheet metal fabricators have to fix before sending a part to the floor. So we have created a referenceable chart for product developers that are designing sheet metal parts. Use this chart to find the correct hole size for the hardware you select.

Hardware Hole Sizes Chart

Choosing the Right Hardware for Your Precision Sheet Metal Fabrication

To choose the right type of hardware for your project, start by considering the application itself. Your design will dictate requirements such as length, load-bearing capacity, and locking capabilities.

Once you know what type of hardware you need, the next step is to identify the ideal hardware material for your application—which can be more complicated than you might think.

Many engineers opt for steel hardware when designing sheet metal parts because it’s the cheapest and easiest option, but it’s not always optimal. In fact, if you’re working with aluminum or stainless steel in your fabrication process, steel hardware is an inadequate option.

For one thing, steel doesn’t stand up to plating. And because steel is softer than stainless steel, knurls won’t grip the material properly, potentially causing the hardware to fall out under pressure.

Choosing the wrong type of hardware material can be a costly mistake, so we recommend working with a sheet metal fabrication shop to confirm your plans.

If you’re looking for a partner in precision fabrication and would like a shop that respects your knowledge and expertise while offering guidance on hardware selection—let’s talk!

We can help you with all things hardware, from material type to hole sizes. Give us a shot on your next project: request a quote today.

Precision Sheet Metal Hardware FAQ

The common types of hardware used in precision sheet metal fabrication include PEM Nuts, Standoffs, Studs, Panel Fasteners, TY-D tie-downs, Pins, Floating nuts & screws, and Locking nuts.

PEM nuts are simply fasteners manufactured by PennEngineering. If PennEngineering doesn't make the part, it's referred to as a self-clinching fastener, a threaded insert, or a captive fastener. PEM nuts are threaded onto another component, such as a standoff.

TY-D tie-down hardware is critical for cable management. It has a square body with an eye to securely guide cables and wires through an application. Unlike screws or adhesives, TY-D tie-downs are self-clinching and don't rely on additional fastening methods.

Locking nuts and fasteners resist loosening and unlocking due to vibration or movement. They provide additional security and stability in applications where movement or vibration is a concern.

When selecting the right hardware, consider the specific application requirements such as length, load-bearing capacity, and locking capabilities. Additionally, choose the appropriate hardware material based on the sheet metal material used. Steel hardware may not be suitable for aluminum or stainless steel fabrication due to potential issues with plating and grip. Consulting with a sheet metal fabrication shop can help ensure you make the correct hardware selection for your project.

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