From the start of the aviation industry over 100 years ago, fasteners have been used extensively for various aircraft manufacturing and repair services. As aerospace technology advanced, so did the need for specialty fasteners that serve a unique purpose. One such design that has been explicitly fabricated to fill a niche aerospace role is the Cleco fastener. Since their advent, these components have played an integral role in automotive, industrial, and aircraft sheet metal repair. In this blog, we will discuss everything you need to know about Cleco fasteners, including their design, operating principle, and variants.
Like most other fasteners, Cleco devices are designed with a cylindrical body. This body, commonly manufactured from a metal or plastic polymer, contains a spring which is directly connected to an external plunger. In an unengaged position, the plunger remains close to the body with spreader bars extended. Once ready to install, the operator must apply force to the end opposite the plunger. This action causes spreader bars to retract while also promoting the plunger to lengthen to fit through the pre-drilled hole. Once the Cleco is threaded through the hole and tension is released, the spreader bars will again extend, providing a stable connection. Upon completion of the operation, the Cleco fastener can be removed by implementing the same steps as its installation.
In order to activate the spring mechanism, the operator must obtain Cleco pliers, those of which are unique handheld tools built just for Cleco fasteners. However, some designs contain components that allow the installer to engage the spring without the need for additional tools. While many fasteners are single-use, Cleco devices are entirely reusable, and as long as they are correctly handled, they can be reused thousands of times. Between their simple installation and long service life, Cleco elements are indispensable in aircraft repair and construction applications.
We will now discuss some of the most popular commercially available Cleco designs.
Plier-Operated Cleco Fasteners
Accounting for the majority of Cleco device sales, the plier-operated element is suited for most standard operations. They are inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to install with the proper tooling. However, most plier-operated fasteners only support light loads up to 25lbs, so many adjacent devices are often required to facilitate heavier requirements.
Wing Nut Cleco Fasteners
Sometimes, repair or production sites do not have access to a Cleco plier, often because they do not perform enough repairs to warrant its purchase. In such cases, a wing nut fastener may be implemented. These devices may be installed by depressing a hand-operated clamp which is built into the body. Depending on the demands of the application, customers may choose devices with varying levels of grip force.
Hex-Nut Cleco Fasteners
In high-production settings, such as dedicated aircraft manufacturing plants, operating with a handheld tool is unfeasible due to the time requirements. For these applications, hex-nut fasteners are usually best suited to provide the desired outcomes. These devices are operated with a pneumatic tool that allows for quick and accurate installation or removal of fasteners.
When your operations call for high-quality Cleco fasteners, look no further than Aviation Store Online. As a leading aviation parts distributor, we maintain one of the industry's largest and most diverse inventory of new, used, and obsolete aerospace components. In addition, we are an AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B accredited enterprise and the only independent distributor to uphold a strict NO CHINA Sourcing policy. Between our rigorous inspections and strict adherence to responsible sourcing, customers can rest assured that they will receive the best items possible. To get started, simply complete an Instant RFQ form for any item you are interested in, and one of our team members will provide you with a customized solution in 15 minutes or less.
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