Products & Services

Protocase manufactures fully finished custom electronic enclosures and associated parts from a wide variety of materials and components, in 2-3 days with no minimum order. Protocase also provides expert and affordable enclosure design services.

Self Clinching Fasteners

Protocase Tech Tip Video

Self-Clinching fasteners are threaded nuts, studs, or standoffs that are mechanically pressed into sheet metal to provide solid fastening points. Self-clinching fasteners are sometimes referred to by the most common brand, called 'PEM®' brand self-clinching fasteners, which is a trademark of PennEngineering & Manufacturing Corp.

Self-clinching fasteners are a very useful item and solve a lot of component mounting problems:

  • Stand-offs:
    Can be inserted for mounting circuit boards
  • Nuts:
    Used to accept
    bolts or screws
  • Studs:
    Used for mounting connectors and other components

Nuts can also be used instead of tapped holes for a more durable and stronger connection. Nuts, standoffs and studs can be used where it is not practical, or possible, to insert a fastener on both sides of a case. For example, in an instance where there is a nut installed on the inside of an enclosure, you wouldn't be able to hold a wrench to attach the cover, since the cover would interfere.

Flush Head vs Concealed Head

Self-clinching studs and standoffs can either be Flush Head or Concealed Head.

Flush-Head Fasteners

Flush-head fasteners are mechanically pressed through a hole in sheet metal to provide a solid fastening point.

While the fastener will sit fairly flush with the sheet metal once inserted, there will be slight indentation around the fastener in the material where the fastener sits. This slight indentation is less noticeable when using textured powdercoat - and we are also able to buff the fastener to make the indentation even less detectable.

The height of a flush-head fastener is measured from the outside of the enclosure's surface.

Flush-Head Fasteners:

Concealed-Head Fasteners

Unlike flush-head fasteners, concealed-head fasteners are not inserted through the sheet metal. They are instead mechanically pressed into a pocket (created by a CNC router or CNC mill) in the sheet metal. Because it is not a through-hole fastening point, the fastener is not detectable whatsoever on the exterior surface of the sheet metal.

The height of a concealed-head fasteners is measured from the inside surface of the part into which the fastener is inserted.

Concealed-head fasteners are the ideal option for enclosures that need to be watertight or air-tight, as there is no through-hole.

Concealed-head Fasteners

Because concealed-head fasteners require a pocket for insertion, there are material minimum thicknesses that must be considered:

Material Gauge Thickness
Galvanneal 18 gauge 0.078" | 1.98 mm
Stainless Steel 14 gauge 0.078" | 1.98 mm
Cold Rolled Steel 14 gauge 0.075" | 1.91 mm
Aluminum 12 gauge 0.081" | 2.06 mm

Need help deciding which self-clinching fastener is best for your design? Contact us to discuss your project.