Spacers & Standoffs

Spacers and standoffs are small but important components that, when used in certain installations and applications, allow for more precise positioning of screws, fasteners and other parts.

Spacers and standoffs can be crucial in achieving both improved aesthetics and proper functioning of certain devices and products, including avoiding short-circuiting of powered components (such as computer motherboards) by creating a small air gap between the powered component and any metal housing it's installed into.

What is the difference between a spacer and a standoff?

A spacer is a small piece of material - generally metal or plastic - that sits under the head of a screw or bolt but on top of the surface being screwed into, rather like a more elongated version of a standard washer.

  • The key role of a spacer is to lift or separate one component from another
  • Spacers typically form a short tube through which the shaft of the screw, bolt or cable can pass, and are available in a variety of standard screw-compatible sizes
  • Spacers are generally not threaded, meaning they cannot be tightened (they're simply a tube for screw support/guidance)
  • They can be bought in a multitude of different materials for specific applications including nylon, stainless steel and aluminium
  • Spacers are suitable for a very broad range of DIY and electrical installation tasks, including TV and computer mountings
  • A standoff is a similar component to a spacer in many ways, with the key difference being that standoffs tend to be threaded onto the screw and/or the surface they're being installed on.

  • The threading on standoffs provides a fastening as well as a lifting/separating role, and is generally available in a number of different configurations, including male-female, female-female and male-male
  • Whereas spaces are almost always round/cylindrical, standoffs can also commonly be found in hexagonal (hex) format for easier gripping with a tightening tool such as a wrench
  • Standoffs are perhaps more commonly used than regular spacers in electronics applications, where their key role is to prevent contact shorting between powered components - a typical example would be helping to raise a printed circuit board (PCB) up off the surrounding surfaces to create an air gap, and thus avoid any electrical shorts to a case or housing
  • What are 'swage' standoffs for?

    A swaged standoff is one that has both internal and external threading cut with a swage tool, creating an end which resembles a male exterior but that retains internal (female) threading, allowing for tighter grip on both male and female fasteners and anchor points.

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