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The ISO metric screw threads are the world-wide most commonly used type of general-purpose screw thread. They were one of the first international standards agreed when the International Organization for Standardization was set up in 1947.
The "M" designation for metric screws indicates the nominal outer diameter of the screw, in millimeters (e.g. an M6 screw has a nominal outer diameter of 6 millimeters).
The design principles of ISO general-purpose metric screw threads ("M" series threads) are defined in international standard ISO 68-1. Each thread is characterized by its major diameter D and its pitch P. ISO metric threads consist of a symmetric V-shaped thread. In the plane of the thread axis, the flanks of the V have an angle of 60° to each other. The outermost 1/8 and the innermost 1/4 of the height H of the V-shape are cut off from the profile.
The relationship between the height H and the pitch P is described by the following equation:
In an external (male) thread (e.g., on a bolt), the major diameter Dmaj and the minor diameter Dmin define maximum dimensions of the thread. This means that the external thread must end flat at Dmaj, but can be rounded out below the minor diameter Dmin. Conversely, in an internal (female) thread (e.g., in a nut), the major and minor diameters are minimum dimensions, therefore the thread profile must end flat at Dmin but may be rounded out beyond Dmaj.
The minor diameter Dmin and effective pitch diameter Dp are derived from the major diameter and pitch as
A metric ISO screw thread is designated by the letter M followed by the value of the nominal diameter D (Dmaj in the diagram above) and the pitch P, both expressed in millimetres and separated by the multiplication sign, × (e.g., M8×1.25). If the pitch is the normally used "coarse" pitch listed in ISO 261 or ISO 262, it can be omitted (e.g., M8). Tolerance classes defined in ISO 965-1 can be appended to these designations, if required (e.g., M500– 6g in external threads). External threads are designated by lowercase letter, g or h. Internal threads are designated by upper case letters, G or H.
ISO 261 specifies a detailed list of preferred combinations of outer diameter D and pitch P for ISO metric screw threads.
ISO 262 specifies a shorter list of thread dimensions – a subset of ISO 261.
|1.2||0.25||0.2||18||2.5||2 or 1.5|
|1.4||0.3||0.2||20||2.5||2 or 1.5|
|1.6||0.35||0.2||22||2.5||2 or 1.5|
|8||1.25||1 or 0.75||52||5||4|
|10||1.5||1.25 or 1||56||5.5||4|
|12||1.75||1.5 or 1.25||60||5.5||4|
The “coarse” pitch is the commonly used default pitch for a given diameter. In addition, one or two smaller “fine” pitches are defined, for use in applications where the height of the normal “coarse” pitch would be unsuitable (e.g., threads in thin-walled pipes). The terms “coarse” and “fine” have (in this context) no relation to the manufacturing quality of the thread.
In addition to coarse and fine threads, there is another division of extra fine, or “superfine” threads, with a very fine pitch thread. Superfine pitch metric threads are occasionally used in automotive components, such as suspension struts, and are commonly used in the aviation manufacturing industry. This is because extra fine threads are more resistant to coming loose from vibrations.