A Brief History of Screws

Whether or not we realize it, we use items that contain screws every day. From the micro screws in our smartphones to the large bolts holding up bridges, these fasteners are responsible for holding together many gadgets we often take for granted. In fact, we take both large and tiny screws themselves for granted — and most of us have no idea how they came to be so ubiquitous in our world.

If you want to learn more about the tools literally holding the modern world together, then here’s a brief history lesson that provides a bit of background on both big and small screws:

The Origins of Screws
The very first origins of screws are somewhat up for debate, but we do know that wooden screws were used during the first century B.C. throughout the Mediterranean region. They were mainly used to assist in the production of olive oil and wine.

Although they weren’t like the modern micro fasteners that are so often used today, metal screws were used as fasteners by at least the 15th century in Europe. They were still rare at the time, but they did help affix two objects together.

It wasn’t until the late-1700s that mass production of screws was made possible. Instrument maker Jesse Ramsden invented the first screw-cutting lathe in 1770, which inspired subsequent inventors to create machinery for mass production of the screw. These machines were able to replicate accurate sizes and the threading necessary to make the screws functional on a large scale.

In the early 1900s, different types of screw heads came about. The Robertson screw, which features a square head, was invented in 1908 and was favored for its non-slip qualities during installation. The Model T car used over 700 Robinson screws! In 1930, the Phillips head screw was invented, which was ideal for the now-popular car assembly line. It was more durable and provided a tighter fastening than the Robertson screw.

Screws in the 21st Century
Many other types of screws have been introduced since, including the tiny screws we often see in our favorite technological gadgets, like iPhones and laptop computers. Some screws are even made with alloy metals, which use oil quenching to heat treat above the transformation temperature and are then tempered at temperatures of 650°F or higher. And in the age of smart manufacturing, new types of screws are able to be created all the time to meet the need for custom screws and fasteners. Nowadays, the use of tiny screws is completely intertwined with how we function on a daily basis; we simply can’t imagine our lives without them, even if we don’t always realize they’re there at all.

If you require micro screws or custom fasteners, we can provide exactly what you’re looking for. No matter the project or the scope, we can help. Contact us today to learn more about the types of screws and fasteners we offer!

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