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What are Self-Tapping Screws?

When looking for industrial fasteners for your applications, you must ensure that the right type of fastener is being used. To make the best choice for your operations, you must understand what needs to be secured, what installation requires, and more. A self-tapping screw is one type of fastener that is often found in many settings and is regularly mistaken for other fastener types. To better understand them, this blog will provide a brief overview of self-tapping screws, their uses, and their types.

Self-tapping screws are designed to create a hole as they are being screwed into a material, making a snug fit between mating threads. More than that, they enable the parts to be reunited with ease where necessary. To attach self-tapping screws, a screwdriver may be used, allowing you to create fitted threads. For instance, if you want to combine two different types of materials or screw areas with one side access, self-tapping screws are your ideal fastener type. This is especially true for applications that necessitate regular assembly and disassembly.

Types of Self-Tapping Screws

There are two main types of self-tapping screws, those of which are thread cutting and thread forming variations. If you need a material to remain tight, thread forming screws are ideal. Unlike thread cutting screws, they do not remove material from the workpiece, but rather push material aside. However, be careful to not over tighten them as this can make the material break or deform under the excess pressure. For the most part, thread cutting screws are used with wood or metal materials but have one major disadvantage. When disassembling the fastener, the thread may strip. If this occurs, a larger self-tapping screw must be used to reassemble your material.

Picking a Self-Tapping Screw for Plastics, Wood, and Metal Applications

Besides coming in a wide range of tip types and sizes, self-tapping screws also have varied shaped heads. To ensure you purchase the right self-tapping screw for your applications, you must consider the length of the screw tip based on the thickness of the material you want to secure. There should also be ample space where the tip of the drilled screw will enter the material before threading starts. This will reduce thread stripping, which usually occurs when driving self-tapping screws.

Regular self-tapping screws are suitable for use in plastics, but plastic screws may be better suited in some cases. They have sharper threads, but exert increased resistance when they need to be pulled out. For this reason, thread forming screws are often utilized in plastic housings, since they do not cut their thread with a sharp edge. For wood, one must create a pilot hole before inserting a self-tapping screw. This will prevent the screw from splitting under the stress of installation. When working with metal, holes must be drilled into the materials first. It is important to note that stainless steel self-tapping screws are softer than hardened steel, meaning that they can only be used alongside soft metals like aluminum.


Acquire NSN is a leading distributor of tapping bolts, threaded fasteners, self-tapping metal screws, screw ball bearings, nuts, and more. With over 2 billion ready-to-purchase options in our inventory, customers can fulfill their operational requirements with ease. Get started with a quote request form on any featured item which can be accessed through our Instant RFQ services. We only ask that you include target prices, desired quantities, and operational deadlines on the form, allowing our representatives to better tailor a solution that keeps your needs in mind in as little as 15 minutes. Kickoff the procurement process today and see how Acquire NSN can serve as your strategic sourcing partner. For additional questions, contact us directly; we are available 24/7x365!


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