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Should the aerospace industry abandon tanged wire thread inserts?

Posted by Advanex  |  

In the aerospace industry, the selection of fastening solutions is pivotal due to the constant push towards lightweight and sustainable designs. They enhance joint strength and protect lightweight parent materials, making them a necessary component of aviation.

In the case of wire thread inserts, traditional tanged designs have been a staple for the industry since its inception. At the same time, tangless wire thread inserts are becoming increasingly popular for their convenience when it comes to FOD. The question is; which should you use and why? 

As we delve into this topic, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons of each insert. This is to understand if there is a case for the aerospace industry to consider the widespread use of tangless wire thread inserts over the traditional tanged solution.

Tanged wire thread inserts: a staple with limitations

Historically, tanged wire thread inserts have been a mainstay in aerospace engineering. 
They enable the use of lightweight materials by dissipating tension across the fastening element. They also offer a simple and efficient installation process that ensures optimal performance in a simple manner. 

The presence of a tang, which breaks off upon achieving the desired installation depth, has traditionally been seen as beneficial. This mechanism allows for a clear indication that the insert has been installed correctly, thus ensuring the integrity of the fastening​​. Despite their widespread use and the advantages they bring, the inherent drawbacks of tanged inserts, particularly concerning Foreign Object Debris (FOD), pose significant risks in aerospace applications.

FOD is a critical concern in the aerospace industry as they pose a threat to the operation of aircraft. Boeing estimates that FOD related processes cost the industry $4 billion per year. The necessity to retrieve broken tangs after installation contributes significantly to this burden of cost and time. So much so that the challenges tied to FOD have prompted a reevaluation of tanged inserts, despite their historical significance and benefits in ensuring fastening integrity​​.

Tangless wire thread inserts: a modern solution

In contrast, tangless wire thread inserts present a compelling alternative to tanged inserts, effectively addressing the FOD concern by eliminating the tang altogether. These inserts can be easily installed and removed with specialised tooling, without the need for a tang retrieval process. 

The bidirectional design of tangless inserts also facilitates easier maintenance and component replacement, contributing to reduced downtime and enhancing overall manufacturing efficiency. This aspect is particularly valuable in the aerospace sector, where time is often of the essence and the ease of maintenance can have substantial implications for operational readiness and cost-efficiency​​.

Weighing the options for aerospace

When considering the transition from tanged to tangless wire thread inserts, it's crucial to weigh the historical reliance and proven performance of tanged inserts against the modern benefits offered by tangless technology. The tangless inserts not only match the strength and reliability of their tanged counterparts but also introduce significant advantages in terms of installation and maintenance efficiency, as well as the elimination of FOD risks​​​​.

Whether it’s tanged or tangless, think KATO® 

The aerospace industry stands at a crossroads, where the traditional benefits of tanged wire thread inserts must be weighed against the modern advantages and safety improvements offered by tangless alternatives. As we consider the future of aerospace engineering, the shift towards tangless inserts appears not only practical but necessary, given the paramount importance of sustainability and efficiency in this field.

KATO® Advanex, as a leader in the manufacture of wire thread inserts, is at the forefront of this transition, offering both tanged and tangless solutions to meet the evolving needs of the aerospace industry. With a commitment to innovation and quality, KATO® Advanex provides engineering solutions that enhance the reliability, safety, and efficiency of aerospace components, ensuring that the industry continues to soar to new heights with the most advanced fastening technologies available​​.

To find out more about our products or to get additional pricing information, contact a member of our team today. 

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