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Will novel British screw design drive others out?

01 January, 2001

Will novel British screw design drive others out?

British engineers have developed a new type of screw head and driver which, they assert, has so many advantages over traditional designs that it could capture 60% of the world market within ten years.

The new design, called the Uni-Screw:

• cures the problem of the screwdriver jumping out of the screwhead as it is turned;

• allows a single driver to be used for all sizes of screw from M2 to M12, avoiding tool changes and cutting tooling costs;

• avoids the need for the magnetic screw-holding systems that can disturb sensitive electronic equipment; and

• is stable in all directions.

The Uni-Screw`s secret is a multi-tier, multi-faceted design in which a castellated driver locks firmly into the screw head. The number of tiers varies with the size of the screw, with the smallest screws (M2) using just one tier, and largest (up to M12) using all three tiers.

The standard Uni-Screw uses a hexagonal driver. In an M12 screw, this provides 18 driving points compared to six in a Torx design, four in a Philips or Pozi-Drive design, and just two in a traditional slotted screwhead.

The new screwhead was developed by engineers in Sheffield and is being produced by Birmingham-based Forward Engineering under an exclusive manufacturing and distribution agreement. The developers admit that the idea is not new, describing it as "a ring spanner in reverse". But they say that has only become practical to produce the screws following recent advances in cold forging technology.

These advances have also helped to keep the price down. Forward Engineering says that, like for like, the screw will be cheaper than any other British-made product, and will be within a few percent of the UK price of any Far Eastern import.

Other head shapes are possible, including triangles, squares, pentagons and others, allowing custom, tamper-resistant designs to be made for individual customers. Forward says that around 124,000 possible combinations of shapes are available, and without the correct driver, it would almost impossible to remove a customised screw.




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