Summary
A bolted joint is one of the most common elements in construction and machine design. It consists of a male threaded fastener (e. g., a bolt) that captures and joins other parts, secured with a matching female screw thread. There are two main types of bolted joint designs: tension joints and shear joints. In a tension joint, the bolt and clamped components of the joint are designed to transfer an applied tension load through the joint by way of the clamped components by the design of a proper balance of joint and bolt stiffness. The joint should be designed such that the clamp load is never overcome by the external tension forces acting to separate the joint. If the external tension forces overcome the clamp load (bolt preload) the clamped joint components will separate, allowing relative motion of the components. The second type of bolted joint transfers the applied load in shear of the bolt shank and relies on the shear strength of the bolt. Tension loads on such a joint are only incidental. A preload is still applied but consideration of joint flexibility is not as critical as in the case where loads are transmitted through the joint in tension. Other such shear joints do not employ a preload on the bolt as they are designed to allow rotation of the joint about the bolt but use other methods of maintaining bolt/joint integrity. Joints that allow rotation include clevis linkages, and rely on a locking mechanism (like lock washers, thread adhesives, and lock nuts). Proper joint design and bolt preload provides useful properties: For cyclic tension loads, the fastener is not subjected to the full amplitude of the load; as a result, the fastener's fatigue life is increased or, if the material exhibits an endurance limit, its life extends indefinitely. As long as the external tension loads on a joint do not exceed the clamp load, the fastener is not subjected to motion that would loosen it, obviating the need for locking mechanisms. (Questionable under Vibration Inputs.
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