Machine Design

Scanning for Ideas: Rivet Gun Automates Assembly

Manufacturers have long wanted a rivet gun that was fast, light weight, and durable enough for the assembly line.

But the engineering challenges of building such a tool proved too difficult, until now. Engineers at Cheetah Tools, Waco Tex. (, developed an air-operated rivet gun, the Cheetah, that cuts in half the time it takes to install a rivet by automating the rivet feeding and installation, and the removal of the mandrel or pintail. Pintails are also whisked away to a collection jar, keeping the factory floor clean.

The 8-lb tool is said to be easy to use, and will install rivets in any orientation. Operators feel no recoil, thanks to a shock mitigation system, and this cuts carpal injuries and insurance claims. Still, it can deliver up to 4,400 lb of force, letting it install … and 3/16-in. high-strength Alcoa (Huck) blind rivets. Rivets can be manually fed into the gun, or an automatic feeder can be used. For the highest level of automation, a high-speed loader can feed rivets into a gun mounted on a robotic arm. Engineers at Cheetah are reluctant to talk in greater detail as they await approval on their patents.

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