This (see Figure 1 below) is a quarter turn fastener distributed by a company called Fixtureworks. There are several varieties, but they all consist of a male end and female end that are each attached to two separate workpieces a user wishes to fasten together. And unlike typical fasteners (screws) that have threads and require many turns to fasten, the quarter-turn fasteners rely on a pin that fits into a corresponding groove and requires only a quarter of a turn to fully engage its counterpart. This is one of the great advantages of Fixtureworks fasteners: they make fastening FAST.
Figure 1. A QCTH series quarter-turn fastener from Fixtureworks
One reason the quarter-turn fasteners are so fast is they only require a quarter of a turn to engage, hence the name. However, another reason, and potentially an even more significant reason, is they don’t require any tools to do so. If you have a thumb and an index finger, you can fully engage these fasteners in about a second. No more hunting for a screwdriver or allen wrench, or cursing because they aren’t where they’re supposed to be. A simple quarter turn of your hand is all that’s required. And the knob on the top of the fastener is very comfortable to engage, making the fastening process a pure delight.
Another thing to consider regarding the speed offered by these fasteners is maintenance down the road. Have you ever had to fix a stripped thread? It’s the pits, and takes a significant amount of time. With Fixtureworks fasteners you never have to worry about stripped threads because there are no threads, which means there is also no lost time due to stripped threads.
Have you ever taken an assembly apart (with screws), then when you begin putting everything back together realize you’re missing a screw (or have an extra screw…)? Maybe it rolled off the table. Maybe Jeff from R&D took it to spite you. Or maybe it went wherever socks go when you put them in the wash. Regardless, now you have to spend more time finding another screw. Ugh. Not so with the Fixtureworks fasteners. They are rigidly affixed to your workpieces, so when you take your assembly apart, they stay attached to their parent parts – yet another way in which they save you time. Even if you’re very good about tracking your fasteners and they never get lost, it’s still mental overhead…overhead you don’t have to expend with Fixtureworks fasteners.
Something else you’ll notice the first time you pick up one of these fasteners is how well they’re made. These are not your typical dime a dozen (or if you’re using McMaster a few dollars a dozen…) screw fasteners. They are exceptionally well-made pieces of hardware. They feel sturdy in your hands and inspire confidence in their use.
Figure 2. Fixtureworks fasteners come in a variety of styles to compliment nearly any application
This all sounds great in theory, but do they really work that well? Yes, they do! Our mission statement here at Pipeline is to build equipment that R&D and manufacturing teams LOVE to use. One of the ways we do that is by using hardware that operators enjoy interacting with, like these quarter turn fasteners. We’ve used them for years and continue to do so not just because we like them, but because our customers love using them. A few examples of where our team has used them are shown below in Figure 3 and Figure 4.
Figure 3. Quarter-turn fasteners used to attach device holder in cycle test machine
Figure 4. Quarter-turn fastener used to hold manufacturing fixture in multiple discrete locations.
Fixtureworks provides dozens of categories of slick hardware like these quarter-turn fasteners. A few others that caught our eye as we were writing this review include their shaft locking clamps, sliding locks, and torque limiting handles. Full disclosure, we have not used those items yet (mostly because we didn’t realize they existed), except for the time we spent with them writing this review.
So what are the drawbacks? Well, there are a few. For one, these quarter-turn fasteners are far more expensive than your typical screw. The QCTH shown in Figure 1 will run you somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 for a set (that is, one each of the male and female halves). They’re also larger than your typical screw, so if you’re working in very tight spaces these might not be the right solution. Finally, they require more preparation than a simple threaded hole: you’ll need to use their design guide to incorporate the right features in your part to accept the fasteners, and then there is some (simple) assembly work to install them.
So, you’ll want to be judicious in where you use them. Nevertheless, if you have workpieces that are being separated frequently, the speed and delightful user experience associated with these pieces of hardware is so much better than traditional fasteners that it’s likely worth the drawbacks.
In conclusion, Fixtureworks’ quarter-turn fasteners might be a great solution for your next project if the following conditions are true:
You have parts that need to be regularly joined and separated.
Your workspace isn’t extremely tight; rather, there is space to accommodate these fasteners.
You don’t want to spend time turning screws, fixing stripped threads, or searching for lost screws…like a peasant.
This review is about making your life easier; if you need more than a solution for just fasteners, and want to make life REALLY easy, consider giving Pipeline a call. Our expertise is in R&D and developing new manufacturing/testing/inspection processes, then building specialized equipment, fixtures, & automation around those processes to increase production for OEMs. Contact us today to learn how you can leverage our team!
Finally, the table below includes links to all the Fixtureworks fasteners we reviewed in this article. As mentioned above, they offer far more than just the quarter-turn fasteners, so we encourage you to check out their site and learn about all the hardware solutions they offer.