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What is a Grommet?

Assorted Metal GrommetsEver wonder what those metal rings on your shower curtain are called? Or the small holes in your shoes through which you feed your laces? Grommets also commonly called eyelets, are found in everyday places, from shoes to shower curtains, electrical wires to surgical devices. Made of metal, plastic, or rubber, grommets are typically inserted into a fabric hole, such as leather, where they serve to reinforce and protect the hole. Often holes have rough edges, so grommets perform the dual job of protecting the hole from damage and protecting what passes through the hole. 
Typical Grommet Uses
One of the most common applications of grommets is hole reinforcement in fabric, as in bootlace holes and shower curtain holes. The grommet is easy to install using a grommet-setting tool, essentially a rod with a curved tip, and a hammer. For applications that may require a more aggressive installation process, a grommet press can be helpful. Once properly installed, a grommet prevents the hole from tearing or ripping when fabric is run through the hole or the product is hung, as in projects like curtains. 
Grommets can also be used to cover rough, sharp hole-edges in metal, in an effort to protect a secondary material as it is passed through the hole. In these applications, the grommet is made from a softer material, such as rubber. In cases where a wire must be run through a hole in metal, a two-piece plastic grommet can be used, which grips the wire: this process is referred to as strain relief, and is necessary in applications where avoiding added pull on a power cord or wire is essential. 
Types of Grommets
Like most pieces of hardware, different types of grommets exist for different applications. Popular kinds of grommets include plain grommets, spur grommets, drapery grommets, and fashion grommets.

Plain grommets can be made of several different metals and coats, including brass, nickel plated brass, and black oxide coating. This type of grommet is well-suited to standard applications, such as tents, tarps, flags, banners, and curtains, and can fasten to a variety of materials, like fabric and foam-board. 
For high-stress applications, like sails, spur grommets are often preferred. They are available in the same types of metal as plain grommets but are installed differently: they require a grommet inserting die, a grommet hole cutter, a cutting pad, and a mallet. These tools are available in sizes that correspond with grommet sizes.
Drapery grommets can be used instead of plain grommets for hanging fabric curtains, and can come in metal or plastic. Some styles simply snap on, whereas others may require traditional installation.
Decorative eyelets are smaller grommets, appropriate for adding detail to clothing, such as jeans.

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