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Washers are metal or plastic disks with a hole in the middle that are used to support a fastener like a screw or to function as a spacer or lock. Because washers must not be susceptible to corrosion, they are frequently subjected to anodizing or are coated with molded and cast urethane. There are many different types of washers including flat, lock, split, star, Belleville, and wave. Rubber gaskets used in plumbing are sometimes called washers.

Different types of washers have different uses. Star washers are helpful when the material is soft enough to allow the washer to adhere. Flat washers are used to disburse the compression of the nut or bolt smoothly. This lessens the possibility of damage and offers a flat space for the nut or bolt to stay, meaning it will be more likely to stay in one place. Belleville washers are cone shaped and, therefore, springy, which can add flexibility. They are sometimes stacked to change the flexibility. These washers can also function as locks, but they provide little strength. This can be seen in joints that experience thermal expansion and contraction. This type of washer frequently undergoes anodizing or electroplating for strength. Lock washers push the nut or bolt so it won't loosen.

Washers are often used in ways they should not be. For example, may use washers to be able to use a nut or bolt that is really too small for the associated project. Others use washers to tighten a bolt that is too lengthy for the project. Improper use of washers can cause injury or damage. Additionally, many do not choose the correct washer for the correct task. Only electrical washers should be used with electrical wire. High performance connectors like butterfly valves require certain types of washers as well. Each washer is designed to perform a specific function, and it is essential that the user choose the appropriate washer.

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