A speed nut is a type of fastener made of stamped spring steel. In place of threads, like those found inside a typical metal nut, the speed nut has two or more thin prong-like protrusions that grip the threads of the bolt or screw they are used on. As the nut is tightened, the spring steel prongs are pulled towards the base of the screw and serve as a type of locking mechanism. This allows the nut to be used successfully without a lock washer. There are many different designs of speed nut, from flat, square pieces to acorn-type nuts and wing-nut like versions that can be easily spun into position.
Many manufacturers have switched from the traditional nut and bolt assembly to the screw and speed nut fastening system. By using this type of fastener, time and money can be saved, adding to the total profit margin of the product. The simple speed nut can be held in place by hand while a screw is driven into the material. This eliminates the need for a wrench on each side of the fastener as well as speeding the entire process up since there is no time wasted threading a nut onto a bolt and then tightening it in place.
The typical speed nut is a single-use component and functions well in the initial application. Made of spring steel, the nuts are manufactured with a slight bow outward that tightens the nut in place when the screw pulls it down tight. The pressure of the spring steel pushing up and against the screw gives a lock washer-like gripping function to the fastener, holding it firmly in place. On some exposed fasteners, the acorn type-nut is used to give a more aesthetic and finished appearance to the fastener. When this type of nut is used, a wrench is also sometimes employed to grip the acorn nut while it is being tightened.
Common uses for this type of nut are fastening electronic panels in appliances and radios, children's toy construction and press-wood type furniture. There are many other uses for the fasteners, but the most common ones are found in the low-end and high-volume-type manufacturing processes. Automobile manufacturers use this type of high-speed fastener to apply badging, ornamentation and other types of trim on the exterior of vehicles as well as on many components of interior vehicle trim.