Out of the hundreds of drive styles available, from straightforward to complex to custom, you might be wondering which is right for your plastic screw applications and wanting to know more about them. We’ve profiled some of the most common drive styles, telling you about their benefits and history, to help you decide.

1) Slotted Drive Plastic Screws

The use of screws as fasteners dates back to the late 15th century, becoming popular in the late 18th century when machines for industrial mass production were developed.  The only internal drive type common at the time was slotted.  Slotted plastic screws are perhaps the most straightforward drive style and are still widely used.  The drawback to a slotted drive is that it cams out very easily.  This means that the screwdriver slips out easily when too much torque is used. However, this drive style is still widespread because it is so easy to find a matching screwdriver.

2) Socket Head Drive Plastic Screws

In 1910, William G. Allen patented a method of cold-forming screw heads around a hexagonal die.  He gave his name to the “Allen wrench,” the tool used to torque this six-point hex head.  This drive style was slow to catch on originally but gained widespread popularity during the industrial push of World War II.

3) Phillips Drive Plastic Screws

Henry F. Phillips first developed the Phillips head screw in the early 1930s, capitalizing on the industrial production of vehicles and aircraft to market his new drive style.  He bought J.P. Thompson’s patent for a cross-recessed screw in 1935 and adapted it to work for assembly line production, allowing it to be used by industrial screwdrivers. By 1940, the Phillips head screw was being used by many aircraft companies and the entire automotive industry. Because of the popularity of the drive style, the patent was lost and in 1966, the last patent expired and the drive style became generic.

One of the major benefits of Phillips head plastic screws is that they are constructed such that the screwdriver will slip out of the screw head when the screw is sufficiently tight, preventing it from being over-tightened and the head from being stripped.

Another major plus of Phillips plastic screws is that the tapering of the driver will self-align with the fastener, with the point of the screwdriver easily centering itself at the deepest part of the recess, preventing it from slipping out when in use. The unique cross shape also allows more force to be applied to the screw with less effort than required by a slotted screw.

4) Torx Drive Plastic Screws

The Torx drive, also commonly called a star drive because of its six-pointed star pattern, was developed in 1967.  Torx head screws are designed to resist cam-out better than Phillips head or slotted screws.  Unlike Phillips heads which cause cam-out, Torx screws are designed to prevent cam-out.  Torx plastic screws are designed to prevent the damage that can be caused to the tip of a screwdriver when it cams out.   This damage control is reported to increase tool bit life by ten times or more.  Torx drives also allow for a higher torque to be exerted than a similarly-sized conventional socket head plastic screw without damaging the screw or the tool.

5) Custom Drive Plastic Screws

In addition to the dozens commercially available, custom drive styles are widely used in order to create plastic screws that can only be removed by their proprietor.  Craftech is able to develop custom drive styles with the associated hardware to your specifications. Whether you’re ordering plastic screws for hand or machine installation, to be easily removable or permanent, Craftech can help you pick out the right drive style for you.

Check out all the drive styles offered by Craftech in our online catalog.


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