Buyer’s Guide for Using Functional Equivalents to OEM Brands

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?

A sample list of brands that have generic alternatives: 

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.

Brands and Functional Equivalents at MF Supply

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.


Precision Shoulder Screws Buyer’s Guide

5 Things to Know When Buying Precision 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 far 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. The exacting tolerance of Precision Shoulder Screws makes 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.

Our goal is to make the buying process easier. This guide offers creative solutions to help you save money and reduce long lead times by educating you on your options, including how to use brand alternatives.

  1. What is a Precision Shoulder Screw? 

Precision Shoulder Screws are generally classified as part of the electronic hardware family. They resemble socket cap screws with an enlarged, unthreaded cylindrical shoulder under the head, and are used to hold parts together within a precision assembly.  Sometimes referred to as “tight tolerance” shoulder screws, they are not governed by any official ANSI or ASME standard.

Precision shoulder screws are composed of three main parts: the head, the shoulder and the thread.

  1. What materials and sizes are available?

Precision Shoulder Screws are readily available off the shelf in type 18-8/303 stainless steel and 416 stainless steel.

Standard stock sizes for the shoulder diameter are Inch from 1/8 to 1/2 and Metric from M4 to M12. 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!

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 information do I need for ordering?

The easiest way to order is by manufacturer part number. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to specify shoulder diameter, shoulder length, thread size, material and drive type; for example: 3/16” shoulder diameter x 1” long x 8-32 thread in SS18-8 with a hex-socket drive.

Precision shoulder screws are available in hex socket and slotted drives. Philips, torx and star drives may be available in certain sizes as well.

Typical head styles are a modified fillister with a flat top where the head diameter is about twice the head height and does not need to be specified. Low head fillisters are available in certain sizes.

  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, Cambion, Concord, Globe, HH Smith, Keystone, Lyn-tron, Misumi, Pic Design, RAF, and WM Berg. A comprehensive selection of Precision Shoulder Screws is also offered by McMaster-Carr (tight tolerance series), MSC, and Grainger.

Let’s take the above example of a 3/16” shoulder diameter x 1” long x 8-32 thread in SS18-8 (300 Series) with a hex-socket drive.  This part is offered by the seven brands (yes, seven!) listed below under the following part numbers:

  • Grainger 6JY20
  • Lyn-tron SS7431-00
  • McMaster-Carr 94035A208
  • MSC Industrial 67313726
  • Pic Design 4423
  • RAF 6931-SS
  • WM Berg PZ-14-3

You can also find Precision Shoulder Screws under their Mil-Spec numbers, which include MS51575 and MS51576 and are DFARS compliant with full paperwork. The above part is equivalent to a Mil-Spec MS51576-14.

  1. What level of certification is required?

Generally, a Certificate of Conformance or a COC is sufficient for your customer. Full certification with material certs and test reports are often available for USA-made and Mil-Spec parts for a fee.

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 about Precision Shoulder Screws, 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!

For more than 40 years, MF Supply has helped American manufacturers streamline operations, saving them time and money with our sourcing expertise and unique supply chain strategies. We are a WBE/WOSB certified stocking distributor of fasteners and electronic components.

We work with the best-established factories in the United States and DFARS-certified countries, and stock a huge inventory including all major brands and equivalents. MF Supply provides solutions including: same-day drop ship direct from the factory; custom sizes, materials and plating options; and DFARS parts with full paperwork and Certificates of Conformance. 

We creatively solve common problems including hard-to-find parts and long lead times. Our sourcing and reworking expertise includes fast turnaround for modification of existing parts, hard to find standards and specials, special threads, non-standard diameters and lengths, exotic materials, special platings and short runs. We provide functional equivalents to expensive brand name fasteners and help our customers save money while reducing lead times.

Follow our blog at http://mfsupplyblog.wordpress.com/


What the heck are Precision Shoulder Screws?

Newsletter

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!