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Counterfeit bolts: Tips on how to avoid them

Publication date: 
April 2003
Richard Huber, P. Eng., Richard Huber Engineering, Ltd.

The existence of counterfeit or substandard fasteners came to prominence in the United States in 1987 when the death of a construction worker was attributed to a bolt that broke unexpectedly. The bolt was found to be made from substandard material. As a result, the Fastener Quality Act was introduced in the U.S. in 1990. The intent of this act was to establish regulations that would make it unlawful for a manufacturer or distributor to misrepresent the characteristics of a fastener. For each production lot of fasteners manufactured to conform to specific performance standards, samples must be tested by an accredited laboratory and the results documented in a record of conformance. This record must be made available by the manufacturer to distributors or individuals purchasing fasteners for use in commercial products. This requirement extends to imported fasteners. Unfortunately counterfeit or substandard fasteners still exist. In this article, the reader will find information about fastener characteristics and suggestions to avoid purchasing substandard or counterfeit fasteners. The types of fasteners that will be discussed are those identified as standard hexagonal head SAE bolt grades 5 to 8 and hexagonal head metric bolt classes 8.8 to 12.9. The following information can, however, be used to avoid similar problems with other grades or classes of fasteners.