Although the name “pop” is widely used as a generic term for blind rivets, it started out as a brand name for a specific style of rivet patented by the George Tucker Eyelet Company, which was acquired by the United Shoe Machinery Corporation (USM). USM later became part of STANLEY Engineered Fastener, which now owns the POP® trademark.
History of POP Rivets
The history of POP rivets began in the U.K. in the early 20th century. British inventor Hamilton N. Wylie patented a method for installing tubular rivets from one side, rather than the typical method of pounding the metal shaft down while holding a buckboard against the back of the assembly. Wylie’s rivet design used a pull-through mandrel, the end of which then had to be secured using a nut or by some other method.
As aircraft designs changed from wood and metal to all-metal fabrication, there was a need for a fastener that could be set from just one side of the workpiece. In the 1920s, Wylie went to work for the Armstrong-Whitworth Aircraft Company, which later called in the Tucker Eyelet Company to help further develop the blind rivet.
Together, the two companies created a rivet design with a mandrel head that would pop off after the rivet was set. The new fastener was called a pop rivet, after the popping sound heard when the rivet tool broke off the mandrel head inside the shank.
The original rivet tool designed by Wylie was also adapted to set pop rivets. The tool had internal teeth that grabbed the long mandrel, pulling it out and away from the rivet, while the head of the tool held the hollow rivet shaft in place against the workpiece. The two actions worked against each other to provide the tension that deforms and sets the blind side of the rivet. Once it was set, the mandrel tail popped off and was discarded.
Assembling a pop rivet required an operator to place the rivet into the tool by hand, then position the rivet into a pre-drilled hole before squeezing the handle to activate the tool. There are now advanced riveting systems that automatically feed the rivets, increasing production efficiency and reducing the chances of repetitive motion injuries in workers.
Pop fasteners have proven to be extremely popular, because they are fast and easy to use and work well for joining thin sheet metal and composites.
The production of pop rivets for use in aircrafts increased to 3 billion during World War II between 1939-1945. After the war, applications for pop rivets expanded to automotive, appliance, and metal furniture markets. Significant growth for the company allowed it to build new, dedicated POP® rivet factories in the U.S., as well as in Australia and Japan, as post-war economies expanded.
Over time, many more POP® brand products were engineered for specific applications, including:
- POPNut® threaded insert systems for providing load-bearing threads in single sheet materials (1982)
- POP® LSR rivets for joining composite materials in automotive and industrial applications (1982)
- POP® SED closed-end rivets with increased strength for use in airbags (1992)
- POP® TVD closed-end stainless steel rivets to provide water- and pressure-tight joins and to provide additional support to assemblies where weak or thin blind-side materials are present (1992)
- POP® FSRs (flush-setting rivets) for the tight internal spaces inside electronics cabinets (2002)
- POP® Vgrip™ multi-grip rivets provide a wide grip range, permitting design flexibility and reduced rivet inventory for substantial cost savings in automotive production (2009)
- POPNut® PC Pneumatic-Control Tools with the ability to set threaded POP rivets across multiple grip thicknesses without stroke adjustment (2009)
Benefits of POP Fasteners
Although “pop” is often used as a generic term for blind fasteners and all pop rivets are blind (e.g., can be set from the outside), not all blind rivets are POP® brand rivets.
POP rivets made by STANLEY Engineered Fasteners are now the only U.S.-manufactured blind rivets, providing the highest quality in manufacturing. Design engineers seek out the top brand when looking for consistency, high quality, and integrity.
Typically, product designers who specify POP rivets are looking for a unique, engineered type. For example, in applications where the head of the rivet will be visible (such as in aircraft), consistency in appearance is important.
In addition, POP brand fasteners offer a complete design-to-end use assembly approach with support from a network of distributors and in-house engineers/product specialists.
A POP Rivet Tool for Every Job
A variety of pneumatic POP rivet tools are available for a variety of needs. The following four riveters are among the most popular—and the most useful—on the market:
- BayPower 1: From BayFast, the BayPower 1 is suitable for setting all rivets with a break load of up to 1,000 pounds.This tool is ergonomically designed for high-speed, heavy-duty applications and can handle various nosepieces. Simple, effective, and economical, the BayPower 1 contains no hydraulics, thus resulting in trouble-free riveting and easy maintenance.
- ProSet XT2: From POP Avdel, the ProSet XT2 is a lightweight pneumatic rivet tool that is perfect for industrial uses. It is designed specifically to set a wide range of breakstem rivets. Piston-bearing rings ensure maximum robustness and tool life. Nicknamed “The Flexible,” the XT2 includes a mandrel collector for quick disposal and cleaner work areas.
- Lobster AR-011MX: This tool offers a number of features, including easy maintenance with a one-touch detachable jaw case, a lower noise level thanks to a silencer function, and the ability to set stainless steel rivets. The all-metal MX delivers heavy-duty performance backed by a proven track record.
- Cherry GHA-743: This top-of-the-line pneumatic-hydraulic power riveter weighs only 6.25 pounds but delivers an impressive punch, especially for structural and hard-to-place rivets. An optional mandrel-catching bag may be attached for easy cleanup.
Choosing the Right POP Rivet Tool
Naturally, the pneumatic POP rivet tool you choose must be of high quality, from a reputable manufacturer, and easy to use. Beyond those basics, you should be thinking about these six factors when selecting a riveter:
You’ll need to take into consideration not only the size of the rivets you’ll be placing and the stroke required, but also the size of the riveting tool itself. All may be dependent on the application the tool will be used for.
In addition to size, the type and material of rivets must be a consideration for whichever tool you choose. Structural or "high break load" rivets have specific tool and nose assembly requirements. You don’t want to find out too late that the riveter you bought can’t handle a certain kind of rivet.
The amount of traction power required for your job is another important factor in selecting a tool. Too little force can result in improper rivet installation. Excessive traction power can also cause problems. You may opt for a tool that will allow you to easily adjust the force as needed. For example, the latest cordless tools from Huck offer a unique method of dialing in the exact pulling force required.
4. Ergonomic Design
Ergonomics won’t come into play if you are using the tool only occasionally, but for consistent use, you should consider the prolonged comfort level of the user. A fatigued user is not only at greater risk of injury, but also may affect product quality because of poor riveting.
5. Workstation Environment
Tight and limited workspaces can hamper riveting capabilities and should be considered when choosing a riveting tool. Also, spent mandrels can clutter the floor; if this is unacceptable, a pneumatic riveter with a collection receptacle might be a wise option.
6. Riveting Needs
Finally, assess why you need a pneumatic POP rivet tool and how often it will be used. An expensive tool won’t make sense if you aren’t placing rivets that often, just as an occasional-use model won’t meet heavy-duty requirements.
POP® Fasteners at Bay Supply
Bay Supply offers many styles, materials, and sizes of POP® brand fasteners, as well as Avdel fasteners (also manufactured by Stanley) designed for a wide variety of industrial and aerospace applications. We also carry BayFast, our own brand of blind fasteners.
Our specialists can help solve any application or supply problem, helping customers select the optimal style, brand, size, and number of rivets required to meet virtually any fastening challenge.
Originally published May 2018, updated in September 2020.