Spacers and standoffs are a common standard for assembling circuit boards, gears, panels, doors, and other electronic components.
One of the most familiar uses of standoffs and spacers is in computing. Motherboard standoffs are almost always inserted between a PCB and the computer case or chassis. This helps to avoid short circuits (shorting) caused by motherboard traces coming into contact with other metallic parts or surfaces. It also aids cooling by enabling increased airflow around the motherboard and its mounted components.
Spacers are also widely used in various other applications, particularly mounting hardware. They help to achieve more precise positioning of screws and bolts, with adequate gaps left for airflow and cabling. Some bolt spacers also serve to make certain screw-in connections more robust.
There are various types of spacers and standoffs available to order online. They are generally cheap to buy and simple to use, provided you choose the right kind for your intended application.
When selecting these fasteners for a particular job, there are four main factors to consider:
- Spacer or standoff shape (usually round or hex, sometimes square)
- Body diameter (outer width)
- Body length
- Hole clearance width or thread size (inner diameter)
For standoffs, you will also need to bear in mind the length and thread size of the threaded section, as well as the gender of the threading at each end. In the following sections, we will briefly outline some of the basic options for standoff spacer shapes, sizes and materials.