Types of Rivets: Working Process, Uses, and Materials

types of rivets

Manufacturers and product designers across industries use some essential tools to join and align several components and structures. Rivets are one of the vital tools that enable these component assemblies. However, these types of rivets often have varying design requirements, materials, applications, and properties.

This article is a comprehensive guide on rivet types, how they work, and their several applications. We will also cover a comparison between riveting and welding to help you decide which one is best for your project.

What is a Rivet?

A rivet is a mechanical fastener that holds metal sheets together in various fabrication works. It usually comprises a head and a tail at opposing sides. The head is commonly smooth and larger than the cylindrical body/shank, similar to a metallic pin. Additionally, they are machining parts made from different materials like brass, copper, steel, and aluminum.

What’s more, rivets are types of fasteners different from regular bolts and nuts. They require different installation techniques that enable long-lasting assembling or connection of parts.

How Does Rivet Work?

Rivets are a fundamental tool used to construct several machines and structures. The general working principle of a rivet requires drill bits to punch a hole in parts while you install the rivets in a hole and deform the tail. This process is relatively straightforward and practical.

The preformed head of a rivet is a “factory head,” while a new head known as the “shop head” is created after inserting the rivet in the components that need joining. The rivet’s tail transforms into a shop head after you deform it with a hammer. This process is called upsetting or buckling. It expands the rear causing it to hold the rivet in place firmly.

riveting process

A Stepwise Guide to the Riveting Process

To have a firmly installed rivet, here are a few steps to follow:

Step 1: You need to determine the suitable rivet for your parts. It would be best to consider factors such as the ideal rivet material, type, and size to do this successfully.

Step 2: The next step is determining where to install the rivet on your parts. It will help to ensure the efficient joining of the materials or components.

Step 3: You must drill a hole precisely 1.5 mm more than the rivet diameter you want to install.

Step 4: Insert your rivet in the hole drilled through the materials you want to join together.

Step 5: When you install the rivet, the tail/shank comes out at the opposite end of the part where you will deform it.

Step 6: Once you hammer the tail, it flattens the material making the tail spread about one and a half its actual size. More importantly, ensure the rivet’s bottom is identical to the workpieces to complete the riveted joint.

Materials Used for Making Rivets

You can use different materials to create different rivet types for your products. Stainless steel, aluminum, brass, and copper are primary materials that help to meet various product standards. However, since there is an extensive list of materials suitable for making rivets, it is essential to use the right material with the desired mechanical properties compatible with the parts that need connecting.

different materials for rivets

Aluminum Rivets

Aluminum is a standard metal variant used in making rivets and fasteners. It has wide use due to its lightweight and tenderness properties. Generally, aluminum alloys offer excellent resistance to deterioration. More importantly, aluminum facilitates the easy production of complex parts due to its malleability.

Stainless Steel Rivets

They are significantly strong and can resist deterioration. The common application of stainless steel rivets is in aircraft, locomotive, and power-producing industries. Manufacturers often use these stainless rivets due to their ability to withstand corrosion.

Steel Rivets

Steel rivets can fit or clinch well in their applications. Certain steel’s low carbon attributes make them well-suited for several rivets applications. Meanwhile, low-carbon steel rivets have high flexibility and adaptability than rigid high-carbon steel rivets. As a result, high-carbon steel rivets require additional material while their moldability reduces.

Copper Rivets

Rivets made of copper have excellent thermal and electrical conductivity. Copper material is flexible both in applications and appearance. It is a remarkable conductor of electricity. Hence, copper rivets are most suitable for electrical appliances.

Brass Rivets

Brass is a flexible material with low friction so they exhibit excellent strength and impressive resistance to tarnish. In addition, brass cannot generate sparks because of its attributes. More importantly, these attributes make brass rivets the most preferred type in gas appliances.

7 Types of Rivets Used in Manufacturing

Generally, there are various rivet types, each specifically designed to fit an extensive range of applications, strengths, and materials. Below are the seven most commonly used rivets in sheet metal fabrication projects.

1. Solid Rivets

These are the most widely used rivets, commonly called round rivets. They are easy to use, dependable, and have the oldest form of connecting materials. Depending on the softness and varying size of the rivet, you can easily deform the tail with a crimping tool or hammer.

Solid rivets have a basic construction comprising a solid shaft and a head, usually made of copper, steel, or aluminum. As a result, these rivets have high strength and durability. Typical applications of solid rivets include making different thin structural parts in aircraft, electronics, ships, machinery, construction, and other industries.

blind rivets

2. Blind/Pop Rivets

A blind rivet is a tubular rivet with a head and a mandrel through its center. You must insert the blind rivets into an already drilled hole in the parts meant to be joined. Then, use a riveter or unique tool to push the mandrel through the rivet. The compression force between the tool and the mandrel’s head expands the tube’s diameter locking the sheets.

You can install the blind rivets from only one side of a part, unlike the solid rivets. Blind rivets are ideal for cases where it is nearly impossible to see or access the rear/blind end of a joint. Typical applications of blind rivets include shipbuilding, electronics, home applications, and aerospace.

drive rivets

3. Drive Rivets

Drive rivets have a mandrel through their center, identical to blind rivets. However, drive rivets require using any unique tool to draw the mandrel through the rivet. It only needs a hammer and probably a backing block to get the mandrel into the rivet body and fasten the parts.

These rivets are perfect for any application where the holes do not puncture the whole block, panel, or metal sheet. For example, you can use drive rivets to hold panels into place or fit nameplates into bind holes.

self piercing rivets

4. Self-Piercing Rivets

These rivets do not require drilling a hole in a material before use. Self-piercing rivets can make a hole in materials using their chamfered poke or bevel drill. They pierce the material’s topmost layer, leaving the lower layer half-pierced. An upsetting die makes the rivet’s tail spread and interlocks into the base sheet, creating a low-profile button.

More importantly, self-piercing rivets are preferred for high-stress applications and can hold together dissimilar materials that are almost impossible to weld, like steel and aluminum.

split rivets

5. Split Rivets

Split or bifurcated rivets are similar to self-piercing fasteners. They are your go-to option for joining soft materials like wood, plastic, and leather. As a result, they are not ideal for critical applications but are suitable for home repair work.

Split rivets usually possess sawed bodies or splits and are suitable for repairs. Therefore, these rivets’ sawed bodies or splits have sharp tips, allowing them to create holes in materials.

tubular rivets

6. Tubular Rivets

Tubular rivets are generic tubular rivets with a head, shank, and partially hollow tube. They are of varying configurations, usually available with a head on one end and a hollow side. The hollow side passes through any piece that needs to be joined. Manufacturers join the field head to the hollow side using the cold forming technique.

However, using highly ductile metals with low strength for your rivets is crucial since they require extensive cold forming. Hence, tubular rivets are popular in commercial applications and electrical devices.

7. Flush Rivets

Flush rivets are also called countersink rivets. They are best used on external surfaces to ensure an attractive appearance and avoid aerodynamic drag. It comprise countersunk heads and holes making it suitable for finished metal surfaces requiring minimal visibility. They are functional tools for aerodynamic applications due to their flush appearance.

metal rivets

Other Essential Types of Rivets

Here are other types of rivets that manufacturers use in putting together different materials and components.

Types of RivetCharacteristicsApplications
Threaded RivetWith a threaded internal mandrel with an external area flat on two sides allowing the tool to hold and rotate it.Automotive, aerospace, and industrial applications.
Snap-Head RivetProvides a solid joint that has a head length of about 0.7 inches and a shank diameter of 1.6 inches.Ideally used in construction and manufacturing industries with high demand for maximum strength.
Friction-Lock RivetsThey are multipiece rivets comprising a stem and sleeve.Aircraft manufacturing, automotive industry, rail and transport engineering.
Mushroom Head RivetsWith mushroom-like heads and a lower profile than regular rivets, they offer the locking of the parts.Facilitate the joining of materials with varying thicknesses.
Pan Head RivetsInclude a unique shape comprising a cylindrical head that slopes downwards from the top.Heavy structural construction due to their extraordinary grip and strength.

Applications of Rivet Types

Different industries adopt rivets to ensure a firm fastening or joining of two or more wooden or metallic materials. Rivets enable the joining of parts, usually more substantial than a screw with a similar diameter. Below are some of the application industries of rivets:

stainless steel rivets


Rivets are famous in the area of construction due to the high efficiency they provide. They are reliable fasteners that facilitate the joining ease of various parts of a structure or machine. You can use a rivet joint for connecting any wooden and metal material. These rivets enable the joining of different wooden facilities, such as lockers, cabinets, and shelves.

Automotive Industry

The automotive industry has a diverse use for rivets. Manufacturers in this sector use these fasteners to assemble chassis components, body panels, and several other parts. It is primarily utilized in fastening materials of different properties, such as steel and aluminum. In addition, rivets have excellent resistance to vibration and fatigue, facilitating impressive high-strength application benefits.

Jewelry Industry

Expert and rising jewelry producers adopt riveting as a cold joining method in their various operations. Jewelry manufacturers utilize riveting to efficiently perform cold connections using basic metal forming capabilities, specific instructional videos, and some standard tools. Many fabricators have turned to riveting as it allows them to join metallic pieces without compulsorily using the soldering technique.

Aerospace Industry

Manufacturers in this sector often use solid, long-lasting, and reliable materials in machining different projects. As a result, riveting is an essential technique in constructing aircraft, they facilitate solid alignment and forming of solid parts. Additionally, rivets connect aluminum alloys because of their low compatibility with the soldering technique.


Manufacturers have extensive use for rivets in the sports equipment industry. They use rivets in joining components like skateboards, bicycle frames, and ski bindings. Rivets are ideal for these applications due to their high strength and durability.

Riveting vs. Welding: Which One Should You Choose?

riveting vs welding

Riveting vs. welding are ideal joining techniques with pros and cons. They are both suitable for a wide range of products. However, it is essential to understand the differences between both methods to determine the compatible products for each technique. The chart below shows a comparison of their differences.

MaterialsRiveting is the best choice for joining dissimilar materials.It is not suitable for joining materials with different properties.
CostRiveting has higher costs due to its operational, labor, and material costs.Welding is an inexpensive option.
ApplicationsThis method has typical applications in consumer product manufacturing, the aircraft industry, shipbuilding, and bridge building.Manufacturers in the defense, aerospace, and electrical industries prefer welding.
StrengthRiveting is not a suitable method for making products that require rigid frames.Welded materials have permanent and robust joints, making the process ideal for creating rigid frames.
SpeedRiveting involves various processes such as hole drilling, connecting, and flattening of rivets which may take longer.Welding is an automated technique with optimal production efficiency in joining different metal parts.
SafetyRiveting is a safer method.Although welding is an automated process, using heat may pose a certain level of danger.


Rivets are the ideal alternative to bolts, nuts, screws, and welding. They are more dependable and long-lasting fastening materials than several other connectors.

Now, we have different forms of rivets with varying configurations and purposes. This may result from the dynamic nature of machine constructions and structures. However, choosing the ideal material for your rivets is advisable as you select the rivet type that suits your projects best.


Which rivet type is the most common?

The most common rivet type of all is the solid rivet. Solid rivets are adaptable, easy to install, and widely used in applications with high safety and reliability requirements.

What is the regular diameter size of a rivet?

The regular diameter size of a rivet is 1/8 th of an inch (3.175 mm).

Which rivet material is best for metal?

Stainless rivets are ideal for metal parts due to their strength and resistance to wear and corrosion. They are commonly used in rail transport, aircraft, and automotive industries.

What is the most used material for making rivets?

Aluminum is the most used material for fasteners like rivets. It is famous for its tenderness and lightweight properties. Likewise, it offers excellent resistance to corrosion, making it the ideal choice for many applications.

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