Cam out (or cam-out) is a process by which a screwdriver slips out of the head of a screw being driven once the torque required to turn the screw exceeds a certain amount. Repeatedly camming out damages the screw, and possibly also the screwdriver, and should normally be avoided.
The Philips screwdriver design is often criticized for its tendency to cam out at lower torque levels than other newer "cross head" designs. There has long been a popular belief that this was actually a deliberate feature of the design, for the purpose of assembling aluminum aircraft without overtightening the fasteners. Evidence is lacking for this specific narrative, and the feature is not mentioned in the original patents. However, a subsequent refinement to the original design described in US Patent #2,474,994 describes this feature.
In recent years, automated manufacturing insertion tools can now precisely sense fastener torque. Consequently, it is typical for computer parts, automobiles, and other highly engineered products, to be assembled with Torx or Pozidriv head screws, which have been specifically designed not to cam out.
- Alexander III, Adler, W. (1998). "2. Literature Review" (PDF). Testing and Understanding Screwdriver Bit Wear. Virginia Tech Digital Library and Archives (M.Sc.). Virginia Tech. Retrieved 2015-01-20.
- "What are the differences between the two types of drive – Phillips and Posidriv?" (PDF).
- US 2474994, Tomalis, Joseph & American Screw Company, "Screw Socket", published December 30, 1942, issued July 5, 1949
- "US Patent #2,474,994 Claims, Page 7".
- Pozidriv at Philips-Screw
- When a Phillips is not a Phillips! at Instructables.com
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