HEXPANDO Expanding Head for Fastener
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
The HEXPANDO is an expanding-head hexagonal wrench designed to retain fasteners and keep them from being dislodged from the tool. The tool is intended to remove or install socket-head cap screws (SHCSs) in remote, hard-to-reach locations or in circumstances when a dropped fastener could cause damage to delicate or sensitive hardware. It is not intended for application of torque.
This tool is made of two assembled portions. The first portion of the tool comprises tubing, or a hollow shaft, at a length that gives the user adequate reach to the intended location. At one end of the tubing is the expanding hexagonal headfitting with six radial slits cut into it (one at each of the points of the hexagonal shape), and a small hole drilled axially through the center and the end opposite the hex is internally and externally threaded. This fitting is threaded into the shaft (via external threads) and staked or bonded so that it will not loosen. At the other end of the tubing is a knurled collar with a through hole into which the tubing is threaded. This knob is secured in place by a stop nut.
The second assembled portion of the tool comprises a length of all thread or solid rod that is slightly longer than the steel tubing. One end has a slightly larger knurled collar affixed while the other end is tapered/pointed and threaded. When the two portions are assembled, the all thread/rod portion feeds through the tubing and is threaded into the expanding hex head fitting. The tapered point allows it to be driven into the through hole of the hex fitting. While holding the smaller collar on the shaft, the user turns the larger collar, and as the threads feed into the fitting, the hex head expands and grips the SHCS, thus providing a safe way to install and remove fasteners. The clamping force retaining the SHCS varies depending on how far the tapered end is inserted into the tool head.
Initial tests of the prototype tool, designed for a 5 mm or # 10SHCS have resulted in up to 8 lb (≈35.6 N) of pull force to dislodge the SHCS from the tool. The tool is designed with a lead-in angle from the diameter of the tubing to a diameter the same as the fastener head, to prevent the fastener head from catching on any obstructions encountered that could dislodge the fastener during retrieval.
This work was done by John Bishop of QinetiQ for Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-16109-1
This article first appeared in the August, 2011 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.
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