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The ISO metric screw thread is the most commonly used type of general-purpose screw thread worldwide.[1] They were one of the first international standards agreed when the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) was set up in 1947.[citation needed]

The "M" designation for metric screws indicates the nominal outer diameter of the screw thread, in millimetres. This is also referred to as the "major" diameter in the information below. It indicates the diameter of smooth-walled hole that a male thread (e.g. on a bolt) will pass through easily to connect to an internally threaded component (e.g. a nut) on the other side. That is, an M6 screw has a nominal outer diameter of 6 millimetres and will therefore be a well-located, co-axial fit in a hole drilled to 6 mm diameter.

## Basic profile

The design principles of ISO general-purpose metric screw threads ("M" series threads) are defined in international standard ISO 68-1.[2] Each thread is characterized by its major diameter, D (Dmaj in the diagram), and its pitch, P. ISO metric threads consist of a symmetric V-shaped thread. In the plane of the thread axis, the flanks of the V have an angle of 60° to each other. The thread depth is 0.54125 × pitch. The outermost 18 and the innermost 14 of the height H of the V-shape are cut off from the profile.

The relationship between the height H and the pitch P is found using the following equation where θ is half the included angle of the thread, in this case 30°:[3]

${\displaystyle H={\frac {1}{\tan \theta ))\cdot {\frac {P}{2))={\frac {\sqrt {3)){2))\cdot P\approx 0.8660\cdot P}$

or

${\displaystyle P=2\tan \theta \cdot H={\frac {2}{\sqrt {3))}\cdot H\approx 1.1547\cdot H}$

Because only 58 of this height is cut, the difference between major and minor diameters is 54 × 0.8660 × P = 1.0825 × P, so the tap drill size can be approximated by subtracting the thread pitch from the major diameter.

In an external (male) thread (e.g. on a bolt), the major diameter Dmaj and the minor diameter Dmin define maximum dimensions of the thread. This means that the external thread must end flat at Dmaj, but can be rounded out below the minor diameter Dmin. Conversely, in an internal (female) thread (e.g. in a nut), the major and minor diameters are minimum dimensions; therefore the thread profile must end flat at Dmin but may be rounded out beyond Dmaj. In practice this means that one can measure the diameter over the threads of a bolt to find the nominal diameter Dmaj, and the inner diameter of a nut is Dmin.

The minor diameter Dmin and effective pitch diameter Dp are derived from the major diameter and pitch as

{\displaystyle {\begin{aligned}D_{\text{min))&=D_{\text{maj))-2\cdot {\frac {5}{8))\cdot H=D_{\text{maj))-{\frac {5{\sqrt {3))}{8))\cdot P\approx D_{\text{maj))-1.082532\cdot P\\[3pt]D_{\text{p))&=D_{\text{maj))-2\cdot {\frac {3}{8))\cdot H=D_{\text{maj))-{\frac {3{\sqrt {3))}{8))\cdot P\approx D_{\text{maj))-0.649519\cdot P\end{aligned))}

Tables of the derived dimensions for screw diameters and pitches defined in ISO 261 are given in ISO 724.

## Designation

A metric ISO screw thread is designated by the letter M followed by the value of the nominal diameter D (the maximum thread diameter) and the pitch P, both expressed in millimetres and separated by a dash or sometimes the multiplication sign, × (e.g. M8-1.25 or M8×1.25). If the pitch is the normally used "coarse" pitch listed in ISO 261 or ISO 262, it can be omitted (e.g. M8).[4]: 17

The length of a machine screw or bolt is indicated by an × and the length expressed in millimetres (e.g. M8-1.25×30 or M8×30).[citation needed]

Tolerance classes defined in ISO 965-1 can be appended to these designations, if required (e.g. M500– 6g in external threads). External threads are designated by lowercase letter, g or h. Internal threads are designated by upper case letters, G or H.[4]: 17

## Preferred sizes

ISO 261 specifies a detailed list of preferred combinations of outer diameter D and pitch P for ISO metric screw threads.[5][6] ISO 262 specifies a shorter list of thread dimensions – a subset of ISO 261.[7]

Nominal diameter, D (mm) Series Pitch, P (mm) Nominal diameter, D (mm) Series Pitch, P (mm) Coarse Fine 1 R10 0.25 0.2 ︙ 1.2 R10 0.25 0.2 16 R10 2 1.5 1.4 R20 0.3 0.2 18 R20 2.5 2 or 1.5 1.6 R10 0.35 0.2 20 R10 2.5 2 or 1.5 1.8 R20 0.35 0.2 22 R20 2.5 2 or 1.5 2 R10 0.4 0.25 24 R10 3 2 2.5 R10 0.45 0.35 27 R20 3 2 3 R10 0.5 0.35 30 R10 3.5 2 3.5 R20 0.6 0.35 33 R20 3.5 2 4 R10 0.7 0.5 36 R10 4 3 5 R10 0.8 0.5 39 R20 4 3 6 R10 1 0.75 42 R10 4.5 3 7 R20 1 0.75 45 R20 4.5 3 8 R10 1.25 1 or 0.75 48 R10 5 3 10 R10 1.5 1.25 or 1 52 R20 5 4 12 R10 1.75 1.5 or 1.25 56 R10 5.5 4 14 R20 2 1.5 60 R20 5.5 4 ︙ 64 R10 6 4

The thread values are derived from rounded Renard series. They are defined in ISO 3, with "1st choice" sizes being from the Rˈˈ10 series and "2nd choice" and "3rd choice" sizes being the remaining values from the Rˈˈ20 series.[5]

The coarse pitch is the commonly used default pitch for a given diameter. In addition, one or two smaller fine pitches are defined, for use in applications where the height of the normal coarse pitch would be unsuitable (e.g. threads in thin-walled pipes). The terms coarse and fine have (in this context) no relation to the manufacturing quality of the thread.

In addition to coarse and fine threads, there is another division of extra fine, or superfine threads, with a very fine pitch thread. Superfine pitch metric threads are occasionally used in automotive components, such as suspension struts, and are commonly used in the aviation manufacturing industry. This is because extra fine threads are more resistant to coming loose from vibrations.[8] Fine and superfine threads also have a greater minor diameter than coarse threads, which means the bolt or stud has a greater cross-sectional area (and therefore greater load-carrying capability) for the same nominal diameter.

## Spanner (wrench) sizes

Below are some common spanner (wrench) sizes for metric screw threads. Hexagonal (generally abbreviated to "hex") head widths (width across flats, spanner size) are for DIN 934 hex nuts and hex head bolts. Other (usually smaller) sizes may occur to reduce weight or cost, including the small series flange bolts defined in ISO 4162 which typically have hexagonal head sizes corresponding to the smaller 1st choice thread size (eg. M6 small series flange bolts have 8mm hexagonal heads, as would normally be found on M5 bolts).[9]

Spanner (wrench) size (mm)

Hex nut,
and bolt

• Button-head cap screw
• Counter-sunk

Set,
or grub,
screw
ISO DIN
M1 - 2.5 - - -
M1.2 - 3 - - -
M1.4 - 3 1.25 - 0.7
M1.6 3.2 1.5 0.9 0.7
M2 4 1.5 1.25 0.9
M2.5 5 2 1.5 1.3
M3 5.5 2.5 2 1.5
M3.5 6 - - -
M4 7 3 2.5 2
M5 8 4 3 2.5
M6 10 5 4 3
M7 11 - - -
M8 13 6 5 4
M10 16 17 8 6 5
M12 18 19 10 8 6
M14 21 22 10 - -
M16 24 14 10 8
M18 27 14 12 -
M20 30 17 12 10
M22 34 32 17 14 -
M24 36 19 14 12
M27 41 19 17 14
M30 46 22 17 14
M33 50 24 - -
M36 55 27 - -
M39 60 - - -
M42 65 32 - -
M45 70 - - -
M48 75 36 - -
M52 80 36 - -
M56 85 41 - -
M60 90 - - -
M64 95 46 - -

## Standards

### International

• ISO 68-1: ISO general purpose screw threads — Basic profile — Metric screw threads.
• ISO 261: ISO general purpose metric screw threads — General plan.
• ISO 262: ISO general purpose metric screw threads — Selected sizes for screws, bolts and nuts.
• ISO 965: ISO general purpose metric screw threads — Tolerances[4]
• ISO 965-1: Principles and basic data
• ISO 965-2: Limits of sizes for general purpose external and internal screw threads.
• ISO 965-3: Deviations for constructional screw threads
• ISO 965-4: Limits of sizes for hot-dip galvanized external screw threads to mate with internal screw threads tapped with tolerance position H or G after galvanizing
• ISO 965-5: Limits of sizes for internal screw threads to mate with hot-dip galvanized external screw threads with maximum size of tolerance position h before galvanizing

### National

#### Derived standards

Japan has a JIS metric screw thread standard that largely follows the ISO, but with some differences in pitch and head sizes.

## References

1. ^ ISO/TC/ 1 Business Plan, 2007-03-05, Version 1.3. Table 3: The market share of each screw thread, p. 7.
2. ^ ISO 68-1:1998 ISO general purpose screw threads – Basic profile – Part 1: Metric screw threads. International Organization for Standardization.
3. ^ Oberg et al. 2000, p. 1706
4. ^ a b c ISO 965-1:2013 ISO general purpose metric screw threads — Tolerances — Part 1: Principles and basic data. International Organization for Standardization. 15 September 2013.
5. ^ a b ISO 261:1998 ISO general purpose metric screw threads – General plan. International Organization for Standardization. 17 December 1998.
6. ^ ISO & DIN13
7. ^ ISO 262:1998 ISO general purpose metric screw threads – Selected sizes for screws, bolts and nuts. International Organization for Standardization. 17 December 1998.
8. ^ "Final report" (PDF). ntrs.nasa.gov. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 March 2017. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
9. ^ "ISO 4162:2012". International Standards Organisation. Retrieved 23 December 2022.