Socket Wrench - Socket Wrench Types - Impact Sockets

Impact Sockets

High strength fasteners in demanding situations often require the use of an impact wrench or impact driver to deliver the amount of torque required to tighten or loosen them. Regular chrome plated "hand sockets" like those commonly included with ratchet wrench tool sets are not suitable for this kind of high load impact application. Hand sockets are made of a somewhat strong, but relatively soft steel which is economical and suitable for low torque applications. If used with an impact wrench, hand sockets can shatter explosively if they break. Impact sockets are specifically designed and manufactured for impact use, and made from a tougher and more ductile alloy steel which is then heat treated for extra durability. These impact sockets are rarely if ever chrome-plated, as chrome will chip off under impact, and the process of chrome plating causes hydrogen embrittlement if applied to hardened steel impact sockets. Instead, impact sockets are most commonly finished with a surface conversion of black oxide or other coating to provide corrosion protection and improved appearance over bare steel. Although ordinary sockets should never be used with impact wrenches, impact sockets can be used with hand socket wrenches and other hand drivers. In some breaker bar use, and especially in cheater bar use (which is usually ill-advised anyway), a user may feel safer using an impact socket.

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