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Smart Screw-Fasteners

Replace old-style metal fasteners with self-tightening and -loosening variety
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These little nano-engineered fasteners have squirmy threads (probably bi-metallic but I'm open to suggestions). Photovoltaics in the head charge up an energy storage cell while the fastener is inactive. When commanded to unscrew, the fastener squirms loose. Place it in its hole and issue the directive, and it screws itself back in.

I'm figuring that you can replace all the $.02 fasteners holding your PC box together for a paltry $20,000 US once production gets underway.

Application 2 replaces the lug bolts on an automobile wheel with squirmy-threaded studs. At an "unlock" signal the threads squirm and loosen the lug nuts one turn or so. Then you can get the devils off with your cheesy K-Mart pliers, the only tool your spouse left in the car when he/she cleaned it out last time. Change tires, and on command the lug bolts tighten the nuts back down that last turn.

This version can draw power from the car's battery. Much more doable, and might actually have applications in aerospace or subsquean exploration where getting outside a vehicle to tweak some bolts would be dangerous.

Dog Ed, Apr 19 2001


       I've noticed something about a lot of the ideas I think of and then reject. They have to do with upgrading devices that could just be done away with via a different application of the upgrade. In this case, if it is assumed that we know enough to make smart screws, why don't we just make smart cases that bind together by themselves, without any kind of fastener?
centauri, Apr 19 2001

       centauri: You're absolutely right. Snap-together PC cases are baked and frosted. In this case (n/p intended) the real challenge is to think of an application that would justify smart screws.
Dog Ed, Apr 19 2001

       The last thing they would hear on the flight data recorder would be a high-pitched roar of (ahem) "Screw this nut job! Let's bolt!"
centauri, Apr 19 2001


       *wipes eyes, gets up still giggling* Maybe a surgical application?
Dog Ed, Apr 19 2001

       NASA uses explosive bolts situations where something (e.g. a rocket stage) needs to be reliably released on command. (AfroAssault would love it.)
egnor, Apr 22 2001

       As far as replacing mechanical metal screws, woodworkers have used "glue" for centuries. Present-day F1 cars and jet transport aircraft are also held together with similar adhesive substances. Another, similar application is called "LocTite," and it's used to hold screws in place. Applications that call for periodical loosening of screws and nuts is called "spraying with WD 40 during assembly." If this process is not used, "penetrating oil" may be applied prior to disassembly.
whlanteigne, Oct 13 2002


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