How The Screw Fastener Came Into Being
There are all sorts of theories about when the screw fasteners came into being but the general view is that it was about the 3rd century B C in Greece. All of these suppositions are difficult if not impossible to prove as most peoples in the world did not write or leave pictorial evidence and the chances of physical artefacts being found are remote. The latest theory attributes the Archimedes Screw to the King of Assyria but it is more likely to be Archimedes himself. The screw was described accurately by the Greek mathematician, Archytas of Tarentum in the 1st century BC and there is evidence that wooden screws were in common use in the Mediterranean during this century. Metal screws did not start appearing until the 15th century but screwdrivers have been around since medieval times although they only really took off in the 1800’s when the threads started to be made to common standards.
The metal screw did not become a common fastener until the invention of screw threading machines for mass production which came into operation near the end of the 18th century. The mass production of wood screws (screws for wood) was pioneered by Job and William Wyatt of Staffordshire who patented the first screw machine in 1760. They built a factory which took a long time to get up and running and in due course it failed. The new owners persevered and made it prosper and were soon producing some 16,000 screws per day.
The industrial revolution that was starting at this time soon caused further developments with more sophisticated machines. The instrument and tooling industry played a major part as the new tools helped the design of the thread. The developments of the mid Victorian period with turret lathes and automatic screw cutting machines reduced the cost still further and the use of the screw as a fastener became evermore popular.
The forms of screw head were simple and usually of the slotted design these were easy to produce and suited most types of operation. Around the turn of the century into 1900 there was a spate of new head designs but it took until the Phillips head screw was developed by Henry F Phillips in the early 1930’s that other screw head forms became popular. The different types of thread form and screw sizes was confusing and in the 1940’s the thread form was standardised to the ISO metric screw thread and the United Thread Standard.