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Cold Heading Design Guidelines

Candidates for Cold Forming

Any one of the following criteria make a part a strong candidate for cold forming:

- Large head to shank ratio
- Part is longer than 1-1/2 times its largest diameter
- Part has multiple diameters
- High production quantities needed
- Raw material is a large portion of part's total cost
- Part has fine surface finish requirements
- Strength, hardness and ductility must meet certain requirements
- Part requires a geometrical shape, a drive system or an extrusion

Size Ranges

Diameters: 1.27 mm to 40 mm (.050" to 1")

Lengths: (14") under the head with diameters to (1")


While part geometry affects tolerances, cold forming generally allows your tight tolerance requirements to be met. When combined with secondary grinding operations, tolerances as tight as .0127mm (.0005") can be achieved.

The diameter (top) and length (bottom) tolerances shown here can be achieved without secondary machining.



If the application requires a sharp fillet radii, corner or flush surface, an undercut can be achieved in the cold forming process, possibly eliminating a secondary operation.


Generous radii at the corners allow the natural flow of material to strengthen the part and reduce the need for secondary machining. If necessary, tight or zero radius corners are possible through secondary machining.


Points can be achieved by heading or secondary operations. The reference dimension for a header die point is 45º after threading. Other point designs can be formed with secondary machining.


The wide variety of shapes that can be formed through cold heading or roll forming, greatly reducing manufacturing scrap and costs, include:


Cold formed splines

- Clinching configurations


Roll formed worm gears

- Parts with multiple shapes
- Cold formed sleeves
- Oval shapes
- Cold formed nuts




A variety of shapes can be extruded through cold forming, allowing area reductions of 90% in aluminum, 75% in medium carbon steels, and 50% in stainless steels and high tech alloys.

Round or concentric extrusions, for shafts or threading; multiple diameters are possible External shapes, such as splines, squares, flats, and drive systems Eccentric or asymmetrical bodies that are within the initial wire diameter Blind holes, which go partially through the part and eliminate costly drilling operations Through holes, which allow for hollow parts while eliminating secondary drilling


Apex Fasteners can cold form many unusual alloy, stainless steel and machining-grade materials, to allow easy conversion from screw machining and other manufacturing methods. Materials include:

- Low carbon steel - Bronze, including silicon and commercial
- Medium carbon steel - Aluminum
- Alloy steel - Stainless steel
- Copper, including high-strength alloys - High technology alloys
- Brass

Surface Finish

Cold forming produces a surface finish of 63 micro inches, which is superior to the 125 micro inch finish typically produced on machined surfaces. If a smoother surface is required, Apex Fasteners can utilize grinding, burnishing, or other secondary operations to achieve a finish as low as 6 micro inches.

Head and Drive Styles

Cold forming can produce many unique head styles, including large, offset, functional and decorative head designs, without secondary operations. Also, cold forming can efficiently manufacture a variety of internal and external drive systems, including slotted, phillips, torx, slot.torx, slot.phillips, one way, tamper resistant, phillips posidrive, square drive and others.


Cold forming allows the cost-effective manufacturing of shoulders in shapes such as round, triangular, hex and more.


In selecting plating, several aspects must be considered, including desired corrosion resistance, lubricity and appearance, as well as concerns over cost and toxicity. While typical plating offerings include zinc, organics, and phosphate and oil, Apex Fasteners has a wide array of plating types available to meet the specific needs of your application.

Heat Treat 

Several types of heat treatment are available to meet desired hardness, strength, and ductility characteristics, including:

- Through hardening - Annealing
- Selective hardening - Carbonitriding
- Case hardening (not recommended for structural applications)

Please contact a Apex Fasteners for more information on what type of heat treatment is appropriate for your application.

Secondary Operations

 Apex Fasteners offers a full line of precision secondary operations, including:

- Roll forming - Tapping - Broaching
- Grinding - Turning/Shaving - Slotting
- Reheading - Knurling - Finishing
- Burnishing - Assembly - Trimming
- Drilling - Milling - Flattening




APEX FASTENERS, Inc - 15858 Business Center Drive - Irwindale, CA 91706 USA
APEX Fasteners supplies standard and custom screws, nut retainers, shoulder screws, plastites and taptites, all types of rivets, spring steel fasteners and special stampings, sems screws in standard, fractional or metric to electronics, aviation and other OEM industries worldwide. custom manufactures screw machine components for electronic enclosure hardware as well as cold forming and cold headed specials for assembly and production requirements.
Tel: (626) 962-2219 -
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