Keenserts vs. Heli-Coils: What You Should Know

When it comes to precision manufacturing, choosing the right components is paramount. Two widely used thread repair and strengthening solutions are Keenserts and Heli-Coils. Both are staples in the industry, offering solutions for various applications. However, the decision between them can be intricate and vital for manufacturing purchasing agents. Let’s dive deeper into the world of Keenserts and Heli-Coils, comparing their functionalities, applications, and potential benefits to help you make an informed decision.

What are Keenserts?

Keenserts, also known as key-locking inserts, are threaded inserts used to repair damaged threads or bolster thread strength in softer materials such as aluminum. Keenserts are essentially a bushing with a thread on both the inside and outside, and four ‘keys’ at the top.

Keenserts have a distinctive advantage: their keys provide positive mechanical lock that prevents rotation due to vibration or torsion, making them ideal for high vibration and high torque applications. Also, their design allows for easy installation without the need for special tap sizes or installation tools, other than a standard drill and tap. Furthermore, if the parent material fails, the keys significantly increase the insert’s pull-out resistance.

What are Heli-Coils?

On the other hand, Heli-Coils, or helical wire inserts, are precision-formed wire inserts crafted from stainless steel wire. They are workhorses in the world of thread repair and strengthening. By mirroring the original thread profile, they provide high-precision threads that distribute loads evenly across the length of the thread.

Heli-Coils offer their unique set of advantages. Firstly, they are lighter and less expensive than Keenserts, making them ideal for applications where weight or cost are significant concerns. Secondly, they require smaller hole preparations, which can be a boon when dealing with space constraints. Lastly, the flexibility of the Heli-Coil often makes installation easier in tight spots or deep holes, where the rigid Keensert might struggle.

Comparison of Applications

Now that we understand what Keenserts and Heli-Coils are let’s discuss their applications. The decision between the two often hinges on the nature of the application, materials involved, and specific demands of the task at hand.

For high-stress environments where the insert may face heavy vibration or loads, the mechanical locking mechanism of the Keensert comes into its own. They shine in aerospace and automotive applications, as well as heavy machinery, where failure is not an option.

Heli-Coils, meanwhile, find their forte in less demanding applications where weight and cost factors may take precedence over pure strength. They are popular in electronic appliances, packaging equipment, and light-duty machinery, amongst other areas.

Factors to Consider: Installation and Removal

While both Keenserts and Heli-Coils are relatively easy to install, Keenserts tend to require a larger hole and tap size, whereas Heli-Coils can be installed in the original hole size. This can be a crucial factor if you’re dealing with a part where space is at a premium.

When it comes to removal, Heli-Coils can sometimes be more challenging to extract than Keenserts due to their design. The process often involves carefully drilling out the insert, which may risk damaging the parent material. Keenserts, on the other hand, can usually be removed more straightforwardly.

Longevity and Performance

Given their robust design and mechanical lock, Keenserts typically outperform Heli-Coils in terms of longevity, especially in high-stress, high-vibration environments. Their ability to resist pull-out and rotation makes them a long-lasting, reliable choice.

In conclusion, both Keenserts and Heli-Coils offer unique advantages and have different application spectrums. They are both vital components in precision manufacturing, and their usage should be determined by the specific requirements of your project. Keenserts, with their high torque resistance and mechanical locking, are perfect for high-stress environments. Heli-Coils, on the other hand, are cost-effective, lightweight, and space-efficient, ideal for less demanding conditions. As a purchasing agent, understanding these differences will not only help you improve the quality of your decisions but also streamline your manufacturing processes and ultimately, the durability and performance of your products. Remember, the best choice hinges on application, materials, and specific project demands. So, whether you’re leaning towards the robustness of Keenserts or the convenience and economy of Heli-Coils, making an informed decision is the key to precision manufacturing success.

MF Supply is a WBE/WOSB certified supply chain partner to business, industry and government. We are sourcing experts and stocking distributors of Hardware, Precision & Mil-Spec Fasteners and Safety supplies. For more than 50 years, we have been supplying manufacturers in the electronics, industrial, commercial, aerospace and military markets with the full range of fastener products and services. Our Cage Code is 58QG4 and our registered name is RL Supply Inc dba MF Supply.