Security Screw Types: A Guide to Tamper Proof Fasteners


Security Screw Types: A Guide to Tamper Proof Fasteners

Introduction to Security Screws

When you think about keeping your belongings safe, you might consider locks or alarm systems. But sometimes, securing something as simple as a panel or a device requires a different approach. Enter security screws: these specialized fasteners are your inconspicuous guardians against tampering and unauthorized access.

Typically, you’ll encounter two categories of security screws: tamper-proof and tamper-resistant.

While the terms might seem interchangeable, they do carry distinct meanings. Tamper-proof screws are designed for permanent fixing; once they’re installed, they’re staying put—no turning back. Tamper-resistant screws, on the other hand, can still be removed, but you’ll need a special tool that’s not your average screwdriver.

These screws aren’t just your ordinary hardware; they have unique head patterns that resist removal with common tools. This can range from a simple pin that prevents a regular screwdriver from gaining purchase to a complex geometric pattern. This design specifically combats unauthorized dismantling, which is essential in public facilities, electronic devices, and any area where security is paramount.

Types of Security Screw Heads

Torx Head Screws

Torx head screws, also known as star screws, have a six-pointed star shape. The security torx screws include a central pin (pin torx head) that adds an extra layer of security, ensuring that only a specialized tool can engage the screw.

The torx screw is one of the most commonly used security screws. The concept of the torx head was introduced in 1967, in response to the invention of automatic screwdrivers.

The six contact points of the torx head allow for significantly increased leverage when used with compatible screwdrivers, reducing the likelihood of camming out, which is when the screwdriver slips out of the indentation under applied torque. Previously, camming out was considered beneficial as it minimized damage to screw heads, but with the advent of mechanical screwdrivers, torque can be controlled automatically.

The sizes of torx screws are denoted by the letter T or Tx, and they span a broad range from less than one millimeter (T1) to a full 22mm (T100) across the head. 

Types of Security Screw Heads

Spanner Screws

Spanner screws, also sometimes referred to as spanner bolts or spanner fasteners, or snake eye screws, are specialized tamper-proof screw fasteners that have a unique head design featuring two holes rather than a slot, recess, or hex sides. They are designed to only be installed or removed using a matching spanner driver tool that grips the sides of the holes to provide torque.

The purpose of the unique spanner screw head is to prevent unauthorized access or tampering. The holes allow very high gripping torque to be applied without damage to the fastener head.

Spanner Screws

Pin Hex Head Screws

Pin hex head screws contain a hexagonal recess with a pin in the center (pin hex), which requires a compatible pin hex driver for installation and removal. The pin hex screws are often used in high-security environments.

Pin Hex Head Screws

One-Way Screws

One-Way Screws are designed to only turn in one direction, allowing for secure fastening that’s challenging to reverse. Once tightened down, this one-way screw offers a permanent solution where removal is not intended.

One-Way Screws

Security Screw Applications

When you’re looking to secure your devices or installations against tampering and unauthorized access, knowing where to apply security screws can be crucial. These specialized fasteners offer an additional layer of security that standard screws don’t, making them perfect for instances where maintenance and repair should be restricted to qualified personnel.

Consumer Electronics

In your everyday gadgets like mobile phones and other electronics, security screws are pivotal in preventing unauthorized tampering. They ensure that:

  • Maintenance and repair are carried out by professionals.
  • Intellectual property within your device is safeguarded.
  • Safety standards are maintained by limiting the risk of amateur repairs.

Here’s a short list of what you might find them in:

  • Mobile Phones: To secure the inner components from being tampered with.
  • Laptops and Tablets: For protecting both the hardware and the data.
  • Gaming Consoles: To prevent modifications that could void your warranty.

Industrial Use

Security screws in the industrial sector are utilized to protect high-value machinery and sensitive equipment. You’ll find them integral in:

  • Machine Screws: These are designed to fit into precisely machined holes and are used in large machinery for added security.
  • Equipment Casings: To keep the internals of industrial machines protected.

Using these screws can have these effects:

  • Prevent tampering: Essential for machinery that poses a significant risk if altered.
  • Control repair: Ensures only certified technicians perform maintenance, keeping machinery in warranty and under service contracts.

Furniture and Decor

When it comes to furniture and interior installations, security screws offer a hidden strength:

  • They are commonly used in public or high-traffic areas to secure fixtures, preventing tampering and vandalism.
  • In your home, security screws can ensure that decorative pieces or expensive furniture remain safe and undisturbed.

Consider these applications for your own use:

  • Wall-mounted televisions: Keeping them secure, especially in public venues.
  • Public fixtures: Like bathroom stalls or benches, where vandalism can be an issue.

Remember, using the right security screws not only keeps your property secure but can also provide peace of mind that your installations are safe from tampering and invasive repairs.

Sizing and Measurements

When selecting security screws for your project, you’ll notice that size plays a crucial role. The size of a security screw is typically determined by the diameter of the thread and the length of the screw. Here is a breakdown to help you understand the measurements:

  • Diameter: This is the width of the screw thread. It’s often referred to in metrics (millimeters) or inches.
  • Length: Measured from the point at which the screw sits flush against the surface to the tip of the screw.

Security screws can come in various sizes, ranging from very small, like a T1 that is less than 1 millimeter in diameter, to larger sizes such as T100, measuring a full 22 millimeters.

Here’s a quick reference for some common Torx sizes:

Torx SizeMeasurement (mm)Measurement (inches)

Installation and Removal

When dealing with security screws, having the right tools for installation is crucial. These screws are designed with unique head patterns that help prevent tampering and unauthorized removal.

For Installation

  • Prepare your screwdriver with the appropriate bit. Most security screws require a specialized bit that matches the unique pattern on the screw head.
  • Ensure alignment of the screwdriver bit with the screw head to avoid stripping.
  • Apply steady pressure and turn clockwise to fasten the screw securely.

For Removal

  • For scheduled maintenance and repair, use the same specialized bit to remove the screws. Align it perfectly with the head and turn counter-clockwise.
  • In case of missing the specialized bit, your removal options may include:
    • Special Clutch Head Removal Tool: A specific tool designed to engage with the security screw for removal.
    • Modifying the screw head: Carefully create a new slot on the screw head for a flathead screwdriver.
    • Grip and turn: Using tools such as mole grips to latch onto the head of the screw and rotating it out.
    • Extraction via drilling: Carefully drill out the screw if other methods fail.

Note: Be cautious during removal to avoid damage to the surrounding material.

Remember, the key is to match your tools to the security screw type, and to approach installation or removal with precision to maintain the integrity of your components.

Choosing the Right Security Screw

Choosing the Right Security Screw

When selecting the right security screw for your needs, it’s essential to consider both the application and the level of security required. Security screws are specifically designed to prevent tampering, removal, or vandalism.

Here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Application: Determine where the screw will be utilized. Is it indoors, outdoors, in a high-corrosion area, or within a public access space? This will dictate the material and type of screw you will require.
  • Material: Look for screws made of stainless steel or coated with materials that resist corrosion, such as zinc. This is particularly important for outdoor use.

Remember to assess the level of tamper resistance you need. For environments where security is paramount, choosing a less common drive type can provide an additional layer of security because the tools to remove them are less widely available.

Your choice deeply impacts the screw’s effectiveness in deterring unauthorized access, so make your selection carefully.

Aesthetics and Design Considerations

When selecting security screws for your project, the aesthetic appearance plays a significant role. These fasteners are not just functional; they contribute to the overall look and feel of your product or installation.

Finish and Color: Security screws come in various finishes, such as zinc, black oxide, or chrome. You can choose a finish that complements or contrasts with your design for greater visual impact. For example:

  • Zinc: Offers a bright, clean look.
  • Black Oxide: Provides a sleek, matte finish.
  • Chrome: Delivers a glossy, reflective surface.

Head Style: The head shape of the screw influences the design aesthetic. You have options like flat, button, or pan heads that should align with the design language of your application.

Consider the following styles for their unique looks:

  • Flat Head: Flush finish with surface.
  • Button Head: A dome-shaped profile.
  • Pan Head: A slightly rounded top with a wider bearing surface.

The choice of head style can either make the screws conspicuous or blend them into the design, depending on your intent.

Customization: In special cases, you might opt for custom-designed security screws. This allows for unique head patterns that can be a defining feature of your product’s aesthetic identity.

Remember, the right balance between security and aesthetics enhances the value of your design. By carefully choosing the security screws’ appearance, you can achieve an optimal balance that ensures both safety and style.

Availability and Purchasing

When you’re looking to purchase security screws, you’ll find a variety of options at your fingertips. Ningbo Oukailuo Hardware stands out as a supplier offering a range of screws, including bespoke sizes if required. If you’re seeking direct replacements or specific security features, many manufacturers can accommodate your needs.

Here are a few points to guide you through the purchase process:

  • Identify the Screw Type: Determine whether you need tamper-resistant or tamper-proof screws. Tamper-resistant types discourage unauthorized removal, while tamper-proof designs challenge it further with specialized tools required for installation and removal.
  • Material & Strength: Consider the material; high tensile alloy steel is known for being exceptionally strong. Look for screws that offer the right balance of strength and resistance to environmental factors like corrosion.
  • Specialized Tools: Certain security screws require unique tools for installation. Check if the supplier provides the necessary tools, or if you need to purchase them separately.

Remember to consider the long-term implications of your choice. If you anticipate the need for eventual removal or adjustments, opt for reusable security screws with corresponding extraction tools. For a more permanent solution, permanent security screws might be the answer.

In summary, security screws are specialized tamper-resistant fasteners that use unique drive types and designs to prevent unauthorized access or theft. Key categories covered include one-way screws that can be installed but not removed, and two-way tamper-resistant screws requiring special drivers for access.

Specific security screw types offer different levels of protection for various applications, from pin hex and Torx screws for electronics to spanners in high-security areas. Choosing the right security fastener involves assessing risks, accessibility needs, and costs.

While adding inconvenience, security screws serve as an effective deterrent and access control solution. Integrating appropriate types into designs protects valuables and sensitive components while discouraging tampering. Continued innovation around tamper-proofing and tool-based access authorization ensures the ongoing relevance of security screws.