Rivets are specific, headed, usually non-threaded fasteners that are beaten or pressed into place to secure two or more items together. Rivets are cylindrical mechanical fasteners capped with a flanged or forged head on one end. Rivets have different shaped heads, including domed, flat, or countersunk.
To secure two or more pieces of material together, a rivet is placed into a hole cut just a bit larger in diameter than the rivet itself. During blind riveting or pop riveting, the force transferred from the hammer actually deforms the other end of a hollow rivet, creating a field head which secures the material together. By hand, this is usually done by hammering the rivet into the material with a striking plate underneath. Machine riveting can be done by heating the rivet until it is red hot and then forging the field head onto it or by using compression from a pneumatic or hydraulic hammer, or a smaller, hand-held rivet tool called a rivet gun.
Rivets come in a variety of configurations depending on the type of riveting. A tubular rivet has a cylindrical or tapered hole at the end, which is shaped or curled back by another tool during the setting process to form a clinch head against the material. A rivet nut or nutsert, is a threaded rivet which is used to provide secure, permanent hold in high-load applications.
Rivets can be made of many different materials, including steel, copper, plastic, and other metal alloys, depending on the material being secured together, possible weight restrictions, and the potential for corrosion. When the weight of the materials or the possibility of corrosion is an issue, a manufacturer may use a copper, aluminum, or plastic rivet. Plastic button rivets may be removed and used again, and are useful in applications where materials need to be non-conductive.