Flex Arm Bases and Mounts: Here are the 3 Types You Need to Know to Succeed
There are countless quotes about having a solid foundation. We tend to believe all of them. It’s true, right? It’s obvious to say that the base of your flex arm device is one of THE most important components that we have to figure out during the design process. What might not be obvious is what goes into making those choices, or even what the options are for your flex arm device.
We designed this post to give you some clarity on the different types of bases for your flex arm device. In essence, we have three categories that almost all bases fall into; threaded mounts, portable mounts, and surface mounts. Within those categories we have some variation in terms of material choices, so we thought it would be useful to walk you through those choices as well. In fact, let’s start with a quick word there.
Material & Design Choices
Don’t worry, this part won’t take too long, but it’s important to know some basics about our material and design choices first. No matter the category, we have a few common material choices that pop up frequently in our devices. Steel or aluminum is often used with threaded connectors. Those materials are able to be augmented in a number of ways. We’ve plated, anodized, painted, and even passivated (make the metal unreactive) depending on the needs of the device for our clients.
It’s also not uncommon for us to create an entirely new mount. This can happen in a number of ways. For instance, we’ve used CNC machining, die casting, molding, and even 3D printed bases for our flex arm devices. While that sort of solution can sometimes be a big hurdle for clients who can’t visualize or understand what we’re talking about, we have good relationships with rapid prototyping services so that you can better see, in real life, how a theoretical base would work with your device. OK, on to the mounting types.
1. Threaded Mounts: Most Common Option
We use threaded mounts more than any other base for two big reasons: They’re simple and they don’t cost a ton of money. We’ve been able to build up a wide variety of threaded mounts (which we also call fittings) so that our customers have several options when deciding what’s best for their device. Within that library of mounts, we can basically break it down into two different sorts of threaded mount: internal threading and external threading.
Internally threaded mounts usually secure the arm with a fastener from below a mounting service. They may also integrate onto an external thread of some kind of stand or device. Externally threaded mounts usually pass through a mounting surface or bracket. These are secured on the backside of the device with some kind of locknut or other mating part.
This is where having a large library of solutions is a huge benefit for us. We’ve developed solutions for hundreds of customers, which means we have a wide array of both internal and external threads. We have machine threads, pipe threads, and even other specialty threads (it’s not a secret, just ask). Our vendors can even create new designs if one of our clients doesn’t feel comfortable with the options at hand.
2. Portable Mounts: Devices on the Go
If your device needs to move from location to location — or needs to be removable for a service reason, portable mounts may be the best solution. While more expensive than threaded mounts, they offer more options for functionality. It’s something we have a ton of experience in.
Because we needed a way to mount trouble lights under the hood of a car, we’ve developed a unique quick-coupler system for mounting flex arms portably. Now we have a family of quick couplers that can be applied to a variety of situations. The coupler mechanism is typically on the base of the arm, and the mating mounting “stud” is attached to the mounting surface.
If you’re going to be using your device with ferrous surfaces (containing iron) then you may have the option for a magnetic mount. These powerful devices are extremely popular with our clients. They’re intuitive, they’re practical, and – most importantly – they stay put. They can be a great option — but remember, they won’t work with all surfaces.
Another type of portable mount we frequently use is a c-clamp. Obviously, most of us are familiar with this concept, especially if you’ve ever had an architect light attached to a workspace. C-clamp bases are great but have to be attached to a flat, secure surface for them to be effective. That means tables, benches, desks are all c-clamp friendly.
When all else fails, make it heavy — right? We’re only partly kidding. We use weighted base mounts as an option for retaining stability when portability is also a key function.
3. Surface Mounts: Device Security
While threaded mounts usually allow for most needed attachments to a mounting surface, occasionally they just won’t do. For that, we use surface mounts, they allow a flex arm to be secured in a way that threaded mounts don’t allow. We’ve used die cast direct mounts and direct side mounts in projects. These can be firmly attached with hex socket cap screws — something we also provide.
Another popular option for surface mounts is stamped brackets and shaft mounts. The first is just another way to mount to a surface – we’ve developed specialty brackets, or have an array of standard brackets if one happens to work. The second is just what it sounds like — a smooth shaft at the base of a flex arm that can be secured in a machined or cast hole using set screws. We have also mounted these inside another tube for aesthetic or design purposes — say for a floor stand or other device.
So there you have it, all the base-ics you’ll need to get started on thinking about options for your flex arm device. Was that a base pun? You bet your sweet bippy it was. All kidding aside, if you have questions — or want to know if a certain type of mount is right for your project, there’s an easy way to find out the answer. Just ask us. We’re always excited to talk to engineers and project designers to answer questions. Sometimes that kind of shop talk can be just the thing to lead to the big breakthrough that unlocks your device’s true potential.