Heat Treatment of Nonferrous Metals – Part Four (Heat Treatment of Aluminum Alloy Rivets)

in Aircraft Materials Processes and Hardware

Heat Treatment of Aluminum Alloy Rivets

Aluminum alloy rivets are furnished in the following compositions: Alloys 1100, 5056, 2117, 2017, and 2024.

Alloy 1100 rivets are used in the “as fabricated” condition for riveting aluminum alloy sheets where a low strength rivet is suitable. Alloy 5056 rivets are used in the “as fabricated” condition for riveting magnesium alloy sheets.

Alloy 2117 rivets have moderately high strength and are suitable for riveting aluminum alloy sheets. These rivets receive only one heat treatment, which is performed by the manufacturer, and are anodized after being heat treated. They require no further heat treatment before they are used. Alloy 2117 rivets retain their characteristics indefinitely after heat treatment and can be driven anytime. Rivets made of this alloy are the most widely used in aircraft construction.

Alloy 2017 and 2024 rivets are high strength rivets suitable for use with aluminum alloy structures. They are purchased from the manufacturer in the heat-treated condition. Since the aging characteristics of these alloys at room temperatures are such that the rivets are unfit for driving, they must be reheat treated just before they are to be used. Alloy 2017 rivets become too hard for driving in approximately 1 hour after quenching. Alloy 2024 rivets become hardened in 10 minutes after quenching. Both of these alloys may be reheat treated as often as required; however, they must be anodized before the first reheat treatment to prevent intergranular oxidation of the material. If these rivets are stored in a refrigerator at a temperature lower than 32 °F immediately after quenching, they will remain soft enough to be usable for several days.

Rivets requiring heat treatment are heated either in tubular containers in a salt bath, or in small screen wire baskets in an air furnace. The heat treatment of alloy 2017 rivets consists of subjecting the rivets to a temperature between 930 °F to 950 °F for approximately 30 minutes, and immediately quenching in cold water. These rivets reach maximum strength in about 9 days after being driven. Alloy 2024 rivets should be heated to a temperature of 910 °F to 930 °F and immediately quenched in cold water. These rivets develop a greater shear strength than 2017 rivets and are used in locations where extra strength is required. Alloy 2024 rivets develop their maximum shear strength in 1 day after being driven.

The 2017 rivet should be driven within approximately 1 hour and the 2024 rivet within 10 to 20 minutes after heat treating or removal from refrigeration. If not used within these times, the rivets should be re-heat treated before being refrigerated.