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What is an Orbital Riveter?

By Shannon Kietzman
Updated May 17, 2024
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The very first riveting machine was created in the late 19th century in Bridgeport, Connecticut by The Grant Company. From this point forward, the company continually worked toward creating a long-lasting, efficient riveting machine. In 1922, the company received the first patent for the orbital riveter, beating European machine manufacturers by quite a few years.

This first orbital riveting machine combined a circling, or orbiting, riveter head with a nail gun's speed. The machine was far quieter than other riveting machines at the time. Unfortunately, the first orbital riveter machines were expensive and difficult to use. For that reason, they did not sell well.

In the 1960's, the federal government enacted new laws regulating the noise emissions from riveting machines. Due to these new laws, the orbital riveter was soon in high demand. The company decided it was time to streamline the machines and manufacture them with fewer parts so that they would be easier to repair. From that point on, the orbital riveter became the most popular riveter on the market.

An orbital riveter has two main components. The first part holds the rivet, or pin, in place so it can be driven into the product. This part spins on an orbit, which allows the next rivet or pin to move quickly into place in the next position. The second component of the orbital riveter is a device that uses pressure of up to twenty tons to force the rivet or nail into place. As a result, the orbital riveter provides long lasting pin or rivet bonds, which remain strong for decades.

Today's orbital riveter is fully computerized. The machine can judge the depth of the material or item on which the rivet is to be installed. The orbital riveter can then alter the amount of force needed to drive in the rivet.

The orbital riveter operator uses a foot pedal to run the pressurized system. An automatic feeder makes sure the rivets are available on a continual basis. In addition, safety mechanisms are in place to protect the operator from injury.

An orbital riveter can be expensive, with a standard machine costing between 25,000 and 58,000 US dollars (USD), depending on the size of the head. A machine that can install small 3mm rivets costs far less than a version used to install 16mm rivets.

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Discussion Comments
By anon332490 — On Apr 29, 2013

No, Grant did not invent the orbital riveter, but has been manufacturing orbital riveters since the early 20's. A manufacturing company in Mass. invented orbital riveting, according to the Patent.

By automationa — On Mar 03, 2009

Grant did not invent the orbital riveter? A European watch maker developed the process and invented the machine. Grant should feel ashamed for making such false claims.

By automationa — On Oct 02, 2008

Orbital Riveters are used to perform a process called orbitforming, orbital riveting, orbital spinning, or orbital peening. Another process similar to orbitforming, is Spiralform. The

Spiralform process utilizes a tool that follows a rosetta forming pattern. Spiralform is a robust method of forming thin-walled rivets with long shanks. A long-time reputable orbital riveter manufacturer, Orbitform, has developed a machine that can interchangeably perform the orbitforming and spiralform processes.

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