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Washer (hardware)

sort of insulation such as electrical

Spring washers, which have axial exibility and are
used to prevent fastening loosening due to vibrations
Locking washers, which prevent fastening loosening
by preventing unscrewing rotation of the fastening
device; locking washers are usually also spring washers.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) provides standards for general use at washers. Type A is a
series of steel washers with broad tolerances, where precision is NOT critical. Type B is a series of at washers
with tighter tolerances where outside diameters are categorized as 'Narrow', 'Regular' or 'Wide' for specic bolt

Assorted washers: at, split, star and insulated

'Type' is not to be confused with 'form' (but often is).

The British Standard for Metric Series Metal Washers
(BS4320) written in 1968 coined the term 'form'. The
forms go from A to D for Bright Metal and denote outside diameter and thickness. They can be summarised as

A washer is a thin plate (typically disk-shaped) with a hole

(typically in the middle) that is normally used to distribute
the load of a threaded fastener, such as a screw or nut.
Other uses are as a spacer, spring (belleville washer, wave
washer), wear pad, preload indicating device, locking device, and to reduce vibration (rubber washer). Washers usually have an outer diameter (OD) about twice the
width of their inner diameter (ID).

Form A: Normal diameter, normal thickness

Form B: Normal diameter, light thickness

Washers are usually metal or plastic. High quality bolted

joints require hardened steel washers to prevent the loss
of pre-load due to Brinelling after the torque is applied.

Form C: Large diameter, normal thickness

Form D: Large diameter, light thickness

Rubber or ber gaskets used in taps (or faucets, or valves)
Forms E to G relate to black metal washers.
to stop the ow of water are sometimes referred to colloquially as washers; but, while they may look similar,
washers and gaskets are usually designed for dierent
1.1 Plain washers
functions and made dierently.
Washers are also important for preventing galvanic cor- A plain washer (or 'at washer') is a at annulus or ring,
rosion, particularly by insulating steel screws from alu- often of metal, used to spread the load of a screwed fasminium surfaces.
tening. Additionally, a plain washer may be used when
The origin of the word is unknown; the rst recorded use the hole is a larger diameter than the xing nut.
of the word was in 1346, however the rst time its de- A fender washer is a at washer with a particularly large
nition was recorded was in 1611.[1]
outer diameter in proportion to its central hole. They are

commonly used to spread the load on thin sheet metal,

and are named after their use on automobile fenders.
They can also be used to make a connection to a hole
that has been enlarged by rust or wear.

Type and form

Washers can be categorised into three types;

A penny washer is a at washer with a large outer diameter, in the UK. The name originally comes from the size
Plain washers, which spread a load, and prevent of the old British penny. In the UK, most industries refer
damage to the surface being xed, or provide some to all large OD washers as penny washers, even when the


OD is as much as twice the size of the old penny. They in debate of late, with some publications advising against
are used in the same applications as fender washers.
their use on the grounds that, when tight, the washer is at
A spherical washer is part of a self-aligning nut; it is a against the substrate and gives no more resistance to rotawasher with one radiused surface, which is designed to be tion than a normal washer at the same torque. NASA rea lockused in conjunction with a mating nut in order to correct searchers have gone as far as to say In summary,
Howfor up to several degrees of misalignment between parts.
ever, a spring washer will continue to hold the bolt against
An anchor plate or wall washer is a large plate or washer the substrate and maintain friction when loosened slightly,
connected to a tie rod or bolt. Anchor plates are used on whereas a plain washer will not.[lower-alpha 2]
exterior walls of masonry buildings, for structural reinalso known as a serrated
forcement. Being visible, many anchor plates are made A toothed lock washer,
serrations that extend ra[5]
in a style that is decorative.
dially inward or outward to bite into the bearing surA torque washer is used in woodworking in combination face. This type of washer is especially eective as a
with a carriage bolt; it has a square hole in the centre into lock washer when used with a soft substrate, such as aluwhich the carriage bolt square ts. Teeth or prongs on minium or plastic,[8] and can resist rotation more than
the washer bite into the wood preventing the bolt from a plain washer on hard surfaces, as the tension between
spinning freely when a nut is being tightened.[6]
washer and the surface is applied over a much smaller
area (the teeth). There are four types: internal, external, combination, and countersunk. The internal style has
the serrations along the inner edge of the washer, which
1.2 Spring and locking washers
makes them more aesthetically pleasing.[12] The external style has the serrations around the outer edge, which
Belleville washers, also known as cupped spring washprovides better holding power, because of the greater
ers or conical washers, have a slight conical shape, which
circumference.[13] The combination style has serrations
provides an axial force when deformed.
about both edges, for maximum holding power.[14] The
A curved disc spring is similar to a Belleville, except countersunk style is designed to be used with at-head
the washer is curved in only one direction, therefore there screws.[15]
are only four points of contact. Unlike Belleville washers,
Tooth lockwashers are also used for ground bonding
they exert only light pressures.[7]
where a metal lug or object must be electrically bonded
Wave washers have a wave in the axial direction, which to a surface. The teeth of the washer cut through surprovides spring pressure when compressed. Wave wash- face oxides, paints or other nishes and provide a gasers, of comparable size, do not produce as much force as tight conductive path. In these applications the washer
Belleville washers. In Germany, they are sometimes used is not placed under the head of the screw (or under the
as lock washers, however they are less eective than other nut), it is placed between the surfaces to be bonded. In
choices.[lower-alpha 1][8]
such applications, the tooth washer does not provide any
A split washer or a spring lock washer is a ring split anti-rotation locking features.
at one point and bent into a helical shape. This causes
the washer to exert a spring force between the fasteners
head and the substrate, which maintains the washer hard
against the substrate and the bolt thread hard against the
nut or substrate thread, creating more friction and resistance to rotation. Applicable standards are ASME
B18.21.1, DIN 127B, and United States Military Standard NASM 35338 (formerly MS 35338 and AN-935).[9]
Spring washers are a left hand helix and allow the thread
to be tightened in a right hand direction only, i.e. a
clockwise direction. When a left hand turning motion
is applied, the raised edge bites into the underside of the
bolt or nut and the part that it is bolted to, thus resisting turning. Therefore spring washers are ineective on
left hand threads and hardened surfaces. Also, they are
not to be used in conjunction with a at washer under the
spring washer, as this isolates the spring washer from biting into the component that will resist turning. Where a
at washer is required to span a large hole in a component,
a nyloc nut (nylon insert) must be used.

Lock washers, locknuts, jam nuts, and thread-locking

uid are ways to prevent vibration from loosening a bolted

1.3 Gaskets
The term washer is often applied to various gasket types
such as those used to seal the control valve in taps. Crush
washers are made of a soft metal such as aluminium or
copper and are used to seal uid or gas connections such
as those found in an internal combustion engine.

A shoulder washer is a plain washer type with integral

cylindrical sleeve; they are used to keep separate dierent
metal types, and as seals.[17] This term is also used for
The use and eectiveness of spring lock washers has been electrically insulating grommets.[18]


4 See also

Specialised types

A Keps nut or K-lock nut is a nut with an integral free

spinning washer; assembly is easier because the washer is

Bit guard

A top hat washer is a shoulder washer type used in plumbing for tap tting.

Unied Thread Standard

An insulating shoulder washer is used to electrically

isolate a mounting screw from the surface it secures. Often made of nylon, these are also made of teon, PEEK
or other plastics to withstand higher temperatures.
A keyed washer has a key to prevent rotation, and is used
to lock two nuts in place, without allowing the torque applied to the top nut to cause the bottom nut to also rotate
(such as in a threaded headset on a bicycle).


Common materials include steel, stainless steel, and

plastic. Hardened washers are steel washers that have
been heat treated. Other materials include aluminium,
aramids, bimetals, bronze, brass, ceramics, copper, felt,
bers, hastelloy, iron, leather, mica, Inconel, Monel,
rubber, silicon bronze, zinc, and titanium.[19]

Standard metric at washers


Washers of standard metric sizes are listed in the table

below. Measurements in the table refer to the dimensions
of the washers as described by the drawing.


5 Notes
[1] Bowmans Fastener Technical Fast of 1999 on page 32 and
33 has SAE recommendation from 1969 that lock washers
not be used in any critical application. BMW motorycles
experienced a series of broken lock washers and BMW
then disallowed their use in U joints due to the damage of
loss of the spacer and nut loosening.
[2] Bowman Fastener (Barnes Co) in their Technical Series
Fastener Facts Circa 1999 states on pages 32 and 33 states
that lock washers are dangerous and obsolete and SAE
recommended in 1969 that they not be used in any critical application other than sheet metal or inspection plates.
BMW made them unacceptable in drive shafts as they
were found to have broken and loss of space left the Ujoint bolts loose and damage.

6 References
[1] http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1713/
[2] bokers.com
[3] Paul Green (2007). The Mechanical Engineering Drawing Desk Reference: Creating and Understanding ISO
Standard Technical Drawings. Lulu.com / CreateSpace.
Washers, p.205.
[4] Nikolas Davies; Erkki Jokiniemi (2008). Dictionary
of architecture and building construction. Architectural
Press. Flat Washer, p.153.
[5] Bucher, Ward (1996). Dictionary of Building Preservation. Preservation Press. p. 576.
[6] John Holloway (2010). Illustrated Theatre Production
Guide. Focal Press. p. 202.
[7] McMaster-Carr catalog (115th ed.), McMaster-Carr, p.
1217, retrieved 2010-11-26.
[8] Smith, Carroll (1990), Carroll Smiths Nuts, Bolts, Fasteners, and Plumbing Handbook, MotorBooks/MBI Publishing Company, p. 116, ISBN 0-87938-406-9.
[9] McMaster-Carr catalog (115th ed.), McMaster-Carr, pp.
32173218, retrieved 2010-11-25.

[10] IS 3063 : 1994 Fasteners - Single coil rectangular section

spring lock washers - Specication
[11] Fastener Design Manual (PDF). NASA.gov. NASA.

[12] Specications for Internal Tooth Lock Washers ASME

B18.21.1-1999 (PDF).
[13] Specications for External Tooth Lock Washers ASME
B18.21.1-1999 (PDF).
[14] Specications for Internal/External Tooth Lock Washers
ASME B18.21.1-1999 (PDF).
[15] Specications for Countersunk External Tooth Lock
Washers ASME B18.21.1-1999 (PDF).
[16] Improved Bonding and Grounding Methods for Electrical / Electronic Equipment (PDF).
[17] Fox, Brad; VanderWeyde, Peter (2008). Alloy boat corrosion: how to prevent it. Ripple Industries Pty Ltd. p.
[18] Fluorescent light. Popular Science (Bonnier Corporation) 186 (6): 117118. June 1965. ISSN 0161-7370.
[19] About Washer Materials, archived from the original on
2010-01-29, retrieved 2010-01-29.

Further reading
Parmley, Robert. (2000). Section 11: Washers. Illustrated Sourcebook of Mechanical Components. New York: McGraw Hill. ISBN 0070486174
Drawings, designs and discussion of various uses of

External links
ASME Plain washer dimensions (Type A and Type
Typical USA Flat Washer Dimensions USS, SAE,
Fender, and NAS washer ID & OD (mm)
American National Standard (ANSI) Type B Plain
SAE Flat Washers Type A Plain Washers
USS & SAE Combined Flat Washer Dimensions
Flat Washer Thickness Table Steel Gage Thicknesses, non-metric
Split Lockwashers: Truth vs. Myth Hill Country


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