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Orbital Forming of Plastic Fasteners

When reviewing a new application, Orbitform’s experts first ask, “what is the material of the rivet or fastener?”  While we expect to hear various forms of metal and degrees of hardness, there are times when we are asked to form plastic components.  Though rare, orbital forming of plastic rivets or components is possible. 

Glass Content

When considering using plastic for a fastener, the most important variable is the amount of glass content in the plastic.  Too low of glass content results in a high memory, or bounce back of the material, while too much glass leads to a brittle and crumbly form.  The rule of thumb amount is somewhere between 20% to 35%. 

Why cold forming?

When considering options for forming plastic fasteners, cycle time is often a large determining factor.  Orbital riveting results in a much lower cycle time than heating or ultrasonic methods, thus increasing throughput.  Additionally, ROI is much higher when investing in an orbital machine due to the low cost in comparison to other options. 

Process Monitoring

Another great advantage to orbital forming of plastic fasteners is the ability to monitor the forming force and distance.  While heat and ultra-sonics do not offer these options, orbital forming allows important feedback.  When tight tolerances are a requirement, monitoring force and distance ensures you manufacture a good part every time.  In addition to this, part tracking and data collection are possible for future reference. 

Typical Applications

Typical applications where plastic fasteners are used include instances where bonding is not required to occur, or minimal retention is required.  Orbitform has partnered with design engineers to create the optimal orbital forming solution for parts such as sensors, plastic body terminals and sunroof guide brackets for the automotive industry

Solutions Lab

When considering plastic as a fastener, Orbitform encourages engaging in a lab development to confirm the formability of the material being used.  Leveraging the lab for prototype development will ensure the proper glass fill, confirm cycle time required, and help set forming parameters to be used in a production setting.  In addition to this, Orbitform’s expert engineers will develop tooling specific to your finished form requirements.


From mild steel to stainless, brass to plastics - when it comes to forming, fastening, riveting and assembly, the experts at Orbitform are experienced in forming all types of material.  To find your unique assembly solution, contact us today. We look forward to designing a solution for your individual material.


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