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The Bolted Joint

Learn the fundamentals of bolts and bolted joints, including their strength, behavior, design approaches and failure prevention.

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The Bolted Joint
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  • Dec 13 2021-Jan 24th, 2022


    List $695
    Member $595

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This online, instructor-supported course presents the basics on an important element of many products, systems, and structures: the bolted joint. Learn the fundamentals of bolts and bolted joints, including their strength, behavior, design approaches and failure prevention.

Beginning with an introduction to the basic mechanics, thread standards and materials for the bolted joint and its components, the student gains an appreciation of the challenges presented to the designer and user to apply and maintain a safe and appropriate clamping load for various applications.  The behavior of bolted joints is examined during assembly, and in-service.  Failure mechanisms are reviewed and avoidance guidelines given including self-loosening, fatigue and corrosion.  Clamping force reduction mechanisms are presented including elastic interaction, thermal and mechanical effects.  Bolted joint assembly is considered including discussion of various load control methods, including torque, turn of nut, and stretch and tension control, with the latest on lubricant research.

The broad goal of this course is for the student to be able to diagnose and solve bolted joint problems, specify appropriate assembly practices, and design safe and stable bolted joints including the calculation of pre-load.  Illustrative case histories, real life examples, and calculation examples reinforce the learning process.

You Will Learn To

  • Calculate the forces in bolted joints and establishing specific torque; calculate bolt area, stresses, component and overall joint stiffness
  • Explain how to increase functional life of a joint and analyze joints and failure mechanisms
  • Explain how to reduce fastener-related warranty and rework costs
  • Identify failure mechanisms such as pre-load loss, fatigue, and self-loosening; and the means to avoid them
  • Explain the general behavior of bolted joints during assembly, and Inservice
  • Identify the thread classes, tolerances, and allowances
  • Describe the merits of torque, turn of nut, stretch and direct tension methods of assembly load control
  • Explain stress distributions and stiffness relationships for components and the entire joint
  • Describe load diagrams and loading planes and apply them to specific examples
  • Apply the concepts of the generalized German VDI bolted joint analysis procedure to example exercises
  • Estimate bolt pre-load loss during assembly and how to compensate for it
  • Explain how to develop assembly procedures, specify bolting patterns, and lubricants
  • Identify and mitigate clamp force loss in thermally sensitive joints

Required Reading
You are required to obtain either one of the following:
Bickford, John, H. (1997).  An Introduction to Design and Behavior of Bolted Joints, 3rd Edition.  New York: CRC Press; or
Bickford, John, H. & Payne, James, R. (2007).  Introduction to the Design and Behavior of Bolted Joints: Non-Gasketed Joints, 4th Edition, Volume 1. New York: CRC Press.

Who Should Attend
Practicing design and manufacturing professionals involved in assembly of electro-mechanical hardware components and engineers and technicians in design and assembly operations.  Two years of engineering experience would be beneficial, but is not necessary.

To take this course you should have a personal computer, Web browser, Internet connection, and software to display PDF files (such as Adobe Reader®).

About the Instructors

Patrick Cooper, P.E., has over 35 years of experience in the design, specification, maintenance and troubleshooting of process equipment within the petrochemical industry. His Shell career included lead project engineering roles on several mega onshore and offshore oil and gas projects in North America.  He provided machinery technical support to the downstream refining and chemical plants along the gulf coast.  His upstream experience focused on facility and production design of offshore floating production facilities along with onshore heavy oil facilities.  During his Shell career he developed and delivered several technical training courses for new technical professionals delivered globally.

Patrick brings his knowledge and experience of bolting and flange design to the classroom to share design and maintenance practices for achieving flange tightness after maintenance turnarounds and commissioning/startup of new production facilities.  He is a college adjunct instructor for production technology courses serving the petroleum industry.  He has been a member of ASME for 37 years; and serves on the University of Louisiana mechanical engineering Industry Advisory Board advising university staff on research and curriculum to address industry’s technical needs.  


Module One

  • Introduction to the Bolted Joint
    • Basic Concepts & Mechanics of Bolted Joints
    • The Challenge
    • Stress and Strength Considerations
    • Threads and Their Strength  

Module Two

  • Materials Properties, Behavior, and Specifications
    • Properties Affecting the Clamping Force
    • Appropriate Bolt Material Standards
    • Bolting Material Properties and Materials Selection

Module Three

  • Stiffness and Strain Considerations
    • Bolt Stretch and Stiffness
    • Stiffness of the Joint
    • The Load factor and Some Design Goals

Module Four

  • Joint Diagrams, Load Factors, and Loading Planes
    • Understanding and using the Load diagram
    • Some examples
    • Tension and compression loads
    • Using the load factor

Module Five

  • Assembly Basics & Methods
    • Basic Considerations
    • Variables and their effects
    • Manual Torque
    • Torque and Torque Calculation (attach spreadsheet)
    • Tensioning and Turn of the Nut

Module Six

  • Lubrication and Tightening Patterns
    • Lubrication considerations Re Ch7
    • Recent Research
    • Circular Patterns
    • Recent pattern Research
    • Non-Circular Patterns

Module Seven

  • Joint Analysis Calculations
    • Overview of basic methods
    • VDI calculation method and goals
    • Examples
    • NASA Shuttle method

Module Eight

  • Understanding Failures & Failure Prevention Considerations
    • General considerations
    • Bolts too tight, or not tight enough
    • Self-loosening
    • Fatigue
    • Corrosion

Module Nine

  • Selecting Preload for an Existing Joint
    • How much preload depends on the application
    • Consideration of tools, scatter and failure consequence
    • Start at maximum approach
    • Start at minimum approach

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