What are clamps made of?
Clamps can be made from a variety of different materials, depending on the individual type, model and manufacturer.
Below is some information on the different materials which are commonly used in the making of clamps, along with some advantages and disadvantages of each.
|The frame of a clamp is usually made from iron or steel.|
Cast iron is a common material used in the making of the frame. It is a type of iron that contains carbon, silicon and small amounts of manganese.
|"Cast" means the iron has been heated until it is a liquid consistency, and then poured into a mould and left to become solid again.|
Some types of iron can be brittle, but the the iron used in the making of clamps is malleable, in order to prevent it from cracking.
Iron is also strong, meaning it is a suitable material to be used for the frame because, as the main part of the clamp, it is expected to withstand heavy work loads and frequent use.
Another material which can be used for the clamp frame is steel, an alloy of iron and carbon. It is a material widely used in construction due to its high tensile strength and corrosion resistance.
|The steel used is usually forged, a process whereby the metal has been shaped using compressive forces. Using forged steel means the body will be of a high quality and strength - an advantage when it is required to hold on to a large or heavy workpiece.|
Some models have jaws made from iron. However, the most common material used for this part of the clamp is steel.
Using steel for the jaws means they will have the same properties as the frame of the clamp, for example strength when under pressure.
|However, a disadvantage of steel jaws (and iron jaws for that matter) is that they may need to be covered with jaw pads when clamping workpieces made of certain materials, such as wood, otherwise the surface may be indented or damaged.|
|A clamp which avoids the problems of metal jaws is a hand screw clamp which has wooden jaws. This is the only type of clamp which is made mostly out of wood, in order to complete woodworking projects without damaging the surface of the material in its grip.|
The screw of the clamp is usually made from steel.
Steel is an ideal material to be used because the screw is connected to the moveable jaw and so is expected to withstand the pressure that comes with clamping a workpiece.
|The steel screw is sometimes chrome plated, in order to increase the strength of its surface and to prevent rust from developing.|
Some clamps have a sliding pin-style handle, which is often made from steel and can be chrome plated.
Some clamps, however, have handles made from plastic. An advantage of plastic is that it can be ergonomically shaped quite easily, providing a comfortable grip for the user.
|Many plastic handles will have rubber patches on them, to provide additional comfort and grip during use.|
Alternatively, wood is another material that can be used for the handle. Although a wooden handle will still work efficiently, it may not provide the user with as much grip when tightening.
A band or strap type clamp has a strap which is usually made from nylon.
Nylon is an extremely durable material, hence its use for vehicle seatbelts.