Friday Rant - Screw that!

Summary:It's a fact of life that every company is looking for ways to cut costs in order to increase profit margins. One quick and easy way for companies to do this is to supply (and if the company is in the business of building PCs, fit) the cheapest and nastiest fasteners possible.

It's a fact of life that every company is looking for ways to cut costs in order to increase profit margins.  One quick and easy way for companies to do this is to supply (and if the company is in the business of building PCs, fit) the cheapest and nastiest fasteners possible. 

It's a great money saver because there are very few people who are going to take the time to complain about the quality of the fittings ("Oh yes, the hard drive was fine, but the screws you supplied me were awful - can I have my money back please?"), and if you're in the business of building PCs, do you think they care how bad the screws are as long as they work the once. 

Here are just a few examples of how I've been screwed (pun intended) by fasteners as of late:

  • Screws with no thread
  • Screws with an incorrect or badly cut thread
  • Screws with no slot cut in the head, a deformed slot, a slot that doesn't correctly fit into any screwdriver or a screw with no head at all
  • Screws made of a material that resembles crushed foil and disintegrate on the first or second use
  • Screws that work fine once and then the head decides to snap off when you try to undo them, leaving me the task of freeing the broken screw

Maybe it's me and I've been having more than my fair share of bad luck with fasteners lately, but somehow I don't believe that.  I'm using high quality screwdrivers and bits (usually Snap-On stuff) and I'm careful as to the amount of force that I apply, but even if I was being ham-fisted and trying to drive them home with a kitchen knife, that doesn't account for all the damaged and deformed screws that I've come across.  My guess is that there are a couple of cheap, low quality suppliers out there supplying most of the industry.

Fasteners have become so bad that I've started looking for engineering suppliers who could sell me small batches of screws - ideally I'd like them to be made of a stainless steel and preferably with a TORX slot in the head rather than the traditional Phillips, PoziDriv or SupaDriv heads.  I like TORX because where as Phillips heads were designed with the idea that screwdriver would cam out of the slot if overtightened (a feature that acts against you when trying to loosen a tough one), TORX is designed specifically not to do this.  Some PC manufacturers already use TORX, but not many. 

Personal note:  Although those 5-lobed security TORX PLUS heads are evil because the last time I came across one I had to drill it out because you can't (or at least couldn't) buy screwdrivers or bits to fit them without jumping through a load of hoops.

Thoughts?  And remember, since it's a Friday, you can vent your spleen about anything tech-related that annoys you!

Topics: PCs, Hardware

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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