What is a Helicoil Used For?

If you work in any field that frequently uses fasteners, you have likely heard about or worked with a Helicoil threaded insert. These state-of-the-art fasteners are becoming a popular choice for a variety of applications, especially those involving soft alloy components such as steel. If you have ever wondered what makes Helicoil inserts so unique, this blog will break it down for you.

Simply put, the Helicoil insert is a high-strength threaded insert that reinforces the stability of additional fasteners screwed into it. They have been used extensively by the aerospace and automation industry since their inception in 1954. Even with almost a 70-year lifespan, the design of this insert has not changed much, owing to its timeless simplicity and efficacy. With a Helicoil insert, old and worn-out fasteners can be replaced easily without the risk of damage to the underlying surface, leading to significant cost savings over time.

The aviation industry is the most significant customer of Helicoil inserts. In fact, a single Airbus A380 will typically have over 12,000 Helicoils installed. The primary concerns in the aerospace industry are safety, cost savings, and decreasing emissions. Helicoils help aerospace engineers accomplish all three goals. First, Helicoil inserts meet the FAA-imposed safety tolerances in various materials. The inserts are compatible with aluminum, magnesium, plastics, and composites, meaning they can be used on any part of the aircraft. Additionally, every Helicoil insert comes in a specific color depending on its function which allows mechanics to easily identify the various types. Finally, Helicoils lead to cost savings and lower CO2 emissions by allowing for more lightweight aircraft construction.

Another attractive feature of Helicoil inserts is that they are designed to meet the various quality specifications set forth by many national aeronautical and military organizations. For example, Helicoil inserts meet the standards of the Society of Automotive Engineers, National Quality Assurance, National Aerospace Standards, and more. As such, countless industries choose Helicoil inserts in the construction of various vehicles and machines in order to meet the standards of the mentioned regulatory bodies.

Currently, there are four Helicoil designs available:

  • Tanged free-running coils
  • Tang-free free-running coils
  • Tanged screw lock coils
  • Tang-free screw lock coils

Therefore, engineers must decide between a tanged or tang-free coil, in addition to a free-running or screw lock option. A tang is an extra piece of metal that the insert tool can grip onto when securing the coil, allowing for a tighter fit. While it may seem ideal to use such an insert every time, the tang must be removed before the fastener can be inserted. While some applications call for a more snug fit, there is a negligible difference in labor cost savings over time when choosing a tang-free option. Additionally, tanged inserts always come with the risk of a loose piece of metal potentially entering the wrong part of the machine.

The next option that one must decide between is lock coils versus free-running coils. Free running coils are designed to adjust to the fastener's threads being installed, allowing for more flexibility. Additionally, free-running coils allow for an evenly distributed load across the fastener, which leads to an increased lifespan. On the other hand, locking coils are designed to push tightly against the wall of the drill hole and the installed fastener, leading to a more secure and stable connection. Typically these inserts are made with a corrosion-resistant material, as they are generally put in place to last for a great amount of time.

Regardless of the helical coil insert you are looking for, ASAP Aviation Hub has you covered. With over 2 billion new, obsolete, and hard-to-find components for the aerospace industry, we support the operational demands of thousands of diverse customers. Additionally, we offer some of the quickest lead-times in the industry, that of which is enabled by our international network of distribution centers. See the future of aerospace parts purchasing at ASAP Aviation Hub today.


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