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A flat washer, also known simply as a washer, is a thin, flat, circular or annular disc with a hole in the center. It is typically made of metal, plastic, or other materials and is used in various applications to distribute the load of a threaded fastener, such as a bolt or a screw, over a larger surface area. Flat washers are simple but essential components in many mechanical and construction projects. They serve several purposes, including:

  1. Load Distribution: The primary function of a flat washer is to evenly distribute the load or force applied by the fastener over a broader area, preventing the fastener from digging into the material it's securing. This helps reduce the risk of damage to the material and ensures a more secure connection.

  2. Protection: Flat washers can be used to protect the surface of the material being fastened. They act as a barrier between the fastener and the material, preventing direct contact and potential damage to the surface, such as scratching or crushing.

  3. Alignment: Washers can be used to adjust the spacing or alignment of components. By placing washers under a bolt or nut, you can adjust the distance between parts or fine-tune the alignment.

  4. Reduce Friction: Washers can also help reduce friction between the fastener and the material, making it easier to tighten or loosen the fastener.

  5. Prevent Corrosion: In some cases, washers made from materials like stainless steel or other corrosion-resistant materials can be used to prevent rust or corrosion between the fastener and the material.

Flat washers come in various sizes and thicknesses, and the choice of washer size and material depends on the specific application and the type of fastener being used. They are commonly used in construction, automotive, industrial machinery, plumbing, and many other fields where fasteners are employed. It's important to select the right washer for your specific needs to ensure the safety and durability of your project.