Archimedes famously said that given a long enough lever and a place to stand, he could move the world. Contrary to Archimedes’ expectations, much of the machinery that moves the world isn’t large but small. And for most, the challenge isn’t finding a large enough lever but rather one that is correctly sized and precise enough for our needs.
We depend on machinery and electronics to move our world, and this means using screws and bolts that are tightened with exactly the right amount of force to keep expensive parts and components safely together. Many of these fasteners are small and don’t require a large lever to turn them. Instead, they need a small inch-pound torque wrench with a torque control mechanism that prevents over-tightening and damage to fasteners, the mechanical housings they connect to, or the vital electronic components they hold in place.
What are Inch-Pound Torque Wrenches?
Torque is a measure of the amount of turning or twisting force applied. It is determined by multiplying the amount of force by the distance from which it is applied, with measures usually given in foot-pounds of torque. Inch-pound torque wrenches are simply torque wrenches that can deliver less than a single foot-pound of torque. They deliver force that can be measured in a fraction of inch-pounds or in inch-ounces.
Not surprisingly, the fasteners that require such fractional measures of force tend to be smaller. However, just because these fasteners are smaller doesn’t mean it is any less important to ensure proper torque control. Examples of fasteners with torque measured in lbf.in or ozf.in include brake system bolts, fittings for hydraulic or gas lines, and the screws that hold hard drive cases together. For these fasteners, it is important to not only choose an inch-pound torque wrench that can provide exactly the right amount of force but also one with a torque control mechanism that actively prevents you from exceeding the torque limit and damaging the fastener or the components.
Types of Torque Control Mechanisms for Torque Tools
Hand torque tools include torque delivery mechanisms that either warn the operator if they are at the torque limit or physically stop them from exceeding it. The types of torque control mechanisms are listed below:
- Click Wrenches: These tools make an audible clicking noise when the torque limit is reached. The handle also deflects slightly to provide tactile feedback that it’s time to stop turning the wrench. However, the force is not actively disengaged from the fastener, so it is possible to apply too much torque. As such, click wrenches are best for non-critical applications.
- Break-Over Wrenches: Breaking over means that when the torque limit is reached, a joint between the head and the shaft “breaks” and the handle deflects by anywhere from 20° to 90.° The user knows the fastener is tightened to the correct torque specification and the break-over prevents them from exceeding specifications.
- Cam-Over Wrenches: A clutch disengages the head from the shaft when the torque limit is reached. Once a fastener reaches the set limit, the wrench slips around the fastener without applying more force. Cam-over wrenches and cam-over torque screwdrivers are both available.
When it comes to inch-pound torque wrenches, there are many options. You can find adjustable click wrenches that apply inch-pounds of force and have graduated scales in inches or half-inches. This way, the user can select the precise torque setting they need. These wrenches are effective for relatively robust applications such as braking systems or industrial equipment. Remember, though, the click is a warning and not an active preventive measure. More sensitive equipment might require more stringent torque control measures.
For industries whose products are sensitive to over-torquing, consider an inch-pound torque wrench with a break-over mechanism. You can set these tools for a lower amount of torque than many click or cam-over wrenches, with settings in the single digits of lbf.in, a few dozen ozf.in, or even a single ozf.in. These low torque settings, coupled with the ability to physically prevent over-tightening, make break-over wrenches ideal for applications such as commercial refrigeration repair or assembling coolant lines made of soft non-ferrous metal.
In the electronics industry, most fasteners are screws, and cam-over torque screwdrivers can tighten screws to the right level without causing damage to the plastic and other materials used in electronic components and housings. Pre-set torque screwdrivers are available in settings as low as 5.7ozf.in, and their pre-set nature makes them ideal for use on assembly lines where each station must drive many screws to exactly the same standard. Adjustable torque screwdrivers can be set as low as 10 ozf.in of torque and as high as 80 lbf.in, allowing for a great deal of flexibility. Dial torque screwdrivers can be used to check everything that is coming off an assembly line to ensure that there are no errors.
High-quality inch-pound torque wrenches and screwdrivers keep the world moving better than any large hypothetical lever. In the modern world, where big things can come in pocket-sized packages, the smallest fasteners often hold the most critical elements. Inch-pound torque wrenches make sure that these fasteners are tightened exactly to spec and will hold for the long-term.
Mountz Inc. understands how important small fasteners are to the big picture. That’s why we’re committed to making the best inch-pound torque wrenches and screwdrivers for our customers. To see our full range of products, browse our catalog. Contact us anytime to ask a question. To inquire about price, request a quote. If you’d like to see our equipment in person, schedule an appointment.