Menu Search

Knobs: Materials, Applications, Types, and More

There is a wide variety of knob designs and types available, including small plastic knobs, machine knobs and handles, plastic threaded knobs, and black metal knobs. Where do you even begin when knobs come in a number of forms, sizes, and materials for a wide range of applications?

This overview on knob types, materials, and applications is intended to help you make the best decisions. First, let's take a look at the many types of knobs accessible.

In this article we will take a closer look at:

1. What Are Knobs Used For?
2. Knobs Materials

     > Nylon 
     > Brass
     > Phenolic
     > Aluminum

     > Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE)
     > Polypropylene (PP)
     > Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
     > Stainless Steel

3. Types of Knobs
     > Fluted Knobs
     > Lobe Knobs
     > T-Handle Knobs
     > Push-Pull Knobs
     > Grip Knobs

     > Grip Knobs
     > Ball Knobs
     > Control Knobs 
     > Knurled Knobs

     > Mushroom Knobs
     > Wing Knobs
     > Thumb Screw Knobs 
     > Tapered Knobs

4. Summary

What Are Knobs Used For?

Knobs are rounded handles that allow users to grip a piece of machinery or operate a control firmly and pleasantly. Axisymmetric, spherical, or T-shaped devices are possible.

Handles are used to transfer force from a person's hand to an item. A handle must have enough area and an ergonomic form to comfortably transfer force into the hand — generally through a range of angles when the handle is manipulated. This ergonomic interface is provided via knobs.

Hub heights are not available on all knobs (e.g. ball knobs). Internal threads have a "depth" dimension, whereas external threads have a "length" dimension. All dimensions are in inches unless otherwise indicated. Here's an overview of the dimensions:

Knob Dimensions

"A" Diameter

"B" Height

"C" Hub diameter

"D" Hub height

"t" Thread of insert

"d2" Depth of insert on internal threads

"L" Length of insert on external threads

Knob Materials

The material you select will be influenced by the context in which your application will be used. Not only should the knob material be considered, but so should the knob's insert material. Female threaded knobs inserts, for example, are molded into the knob material like plastic during production. The insert provides the appropriate strength to your knob, allowing for optimum torque.

Although additives may be added to materials during production to improve desired properties, understanding the material's initial condition allows you to make a knowledgeable choice. Let's begin with the most popular knob materials. The bulk of your options are plastic knobs.

Nylon

Pros: Nylon is among the most widely used materials in a variety of sectors due to its excellent collision resistance. It has high electrical insulating qualities and is resistant to most greases, fuels, and oils. Plastic hand knobs and plastic threaded knobs are frequently made of nylon, which is also utilized in the manufacture of knob inserts.

Cons: Absorbs moisture from the environment, which might have a detrimental influence on the stability in dimensions (still impact resistance escalates). While nylon is chemically resistant, it may be damaged by powerful alkalis, alcohols, and acids. Here are some nylon knobs examples:

  • Thumb screw knob
  • Fluted grip knobs
  • Wing knobs
  • T-Handle knobs
  • Male lobe knobs (otherwise called threaded stud hand knobs)
  • Tapered knobs

An example of a knob with a nylon insert is the tapered knob.

Brass

Pros: Due to its integrated core strength, brass is a copper-zinc alloy that is frequently utilized as a material for knob inserts and creating brass knobs generally. It is wear-resistant and commonly used in applications requiring minimal friction, such as gears, bearings, and locks.

Brass is also utilized in the manufacture of bolts, nuts, and screws. Due to its great thermal conductivity, brass is frequently used in heat exchangers such as radiators. Brass is also used in plumbing and electrical applications.
 

Cons: When metals are exposed to air, they oxidize, and brass isn’t an exception. Nonetheless, it has high corrosion resistance. It is important to note that the higher the zinc concentration, the greater the rust resistance. It is similarly soft in comparison to other metals, although this has advantages, one of which is that it is simple to manufacture. Finally, brass might be more expensive than other materials. Solid brass can be used for kitchen cabinet doors.
Here are examples of knobs with a brass insert:

  • Brass cabinet pulls
  • Push-pull knobs
  • Female lobed hand wheel and knobs

Phenolic

Pros: Phenolic is a low-cost material that is light and resistant to heavy impact, wear, and heat, as well as lubricants, greases, and fuels. It has high electrical, thermal, and corrosion resistance.

Cons: It is a thermoset that has advantages and disadvantages determined by the intended use. Because thermosets are strong and stiff, the material may fail in particularly high-vibration situations.

Examples of phenolic knobs include:

Aluminum

Pros: Since aluminum is light in weight when compared to other metals, it is used in the aerospace, construction, and automotive sectors. It may be produced to practically any strength, and it gets stronger in cold temperatures. It has excellent corrosion resistance as well as thermal and electrical conductivity. It is also used to make knob inserts.
 

Cons: While its corrosion resistance is excellent, it is of inferior quality when compared to stainless steel.
A
control knob is an example of an aluminum knob. Examples of knobs with an aluminum insert include :

Thermoplastic elastomer (TPE)

Pros: Flexible TPE is frequently utilized as an overlay material to offer the end-user a soft, pleasant feel. Glass-filled polypropylene, which offers strength and stability, is a good foundation material in these cases. These knobs have a high impact strength, great weathering and ozone resistance, and strong abrasion and tear resistance.
 

Cons: TPEs are more expensive than other polymers and are susceptible to heat.

Knobs made of TPE include:

  • Drawer pulls
  • Push-pull knobs
  • Lobe knobs, female

Polypropylene (PP)

Pros: PP is semi-rigid. It is resistant to the majority of chemicals and has high heat and fatigue resistance. It works well as a knob for light-duty fastening and clamping applications. It becomes incredibly robust when used as a foundation material and filled with glass.

Cons: PP has low UV resistance on its own, and interaction with copper accelerates oxidative deterioration.

PP knob examples include:

  • Lobe knobs, female
  • Push-pull knob
  • Mushroom knob

Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

Pros: LDPE is an inexpensive material, weather-resistant, semi-rigid, and extremely strong. Consider water bottles as an example of LDPE. LDPE is resistant to certain chemicals and has a low water assimilation rate. A low-density polyethylene knob is also beautiful and ergonomic.

Cons: Without additions, LDPE has low resistance to the environment and isn’t stress-resistant.

LDPE knob examples include:

Stainless steel

Pros: This is extremely corrosion resistant and can withstand damp conditions. It also keeps its strength even at high temperatures. It is non-porous and sanitary, making it excellent for culinary and medical uses. It also has a pleasing look and it can be recycled. For knob inserts, both steel and stainless steel are utilized.

Cons: If electrical conductivity is vital to you, you should search somewhere else. Stainless steel performs poorly in this region. Stainless steels are also more expensive than plastics, yet based on your intended use, this may be valuable.

A 2″ Contemporary Bar Pull - Stainless Steel is an example.

Which knob materials are preferred in certain industries? This table should assist you in getting started.

 

Material/

Industry

Appliances

Machinery/ machine tools

Commercial vehicles

Hydraulics

Electronics

Electrical & Data cabinets

Furniture

Medical devices

Nylon

✔✔

✔✔

 

✔✔

 

✔✔

✔✔

 

Phenolic

✔✔

 

 

 

 

 

 

✔✔

Thermoplastic elastomer (TPE)

 

✔✔

✔✔

 

✔✔

 

✔✔

✔✔

Polypropylene (PP)

✔✔

 

✔✔

 

✔✔

✔✔

 

✔✔

Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

 

✔✔

✔✔

✔✔

 

✔✔

 

 

Aluminum

 

✔✔

✔✔

 

✔✔

✔✔

 

✔✔

Stainless steel

 

✔✔

 

 

 

 

✔✔

✔✔

 

Brass

✔✔

 

 

 

 

✔✔

✔✔

 

Types of Knobs

Fluted knobs

  • When rotating the knob, the grooves or fluting on the side provide a strong grip
  • Can be used for cabinet knobs and door knobs
  • For cabinet hardware, new cabinet knobs, also known as cabinet pulls, are an excellent way to update your kitchen or bathroom

Lobe knobs

  • Ideal for medium- to high-torque applications
  • Provides precise control
  • A clamping knob, also known as a clamp knob, is a knob with three to eight lobes that provides positive clamping action
  • Four lobes are commonly referred to as hand knobs

T-Handle knobs

  • A wingnut knob is another name for a wingnut
  • A lobe knob that has two lobes
  • Ideal for applications demanding strong torque and those that require a firm grip

Push-Pull knobs

  • The enlarged head provides greater finger clearance and a secure grip. Amerock bronze knobs provide a variety of unique shapes

Grip knobs

  • Suitable for cramped quarters
  • The knurled texture is available for a non-slip grip

Ball knobs

  • As the name indicates, it is a round knob
  • Typically used as a tactical handle
  • Ideal for applications requiring up-and-down and side-to-side movement

Control knobs

  • Also known as instrument knobs
  • For instruments and machinery, it enables accurate knob placement and regulated circular motion

Knurled knobs

  • The small design on the side ensures a non-slip grip
  • The knurled rim prevents fingers from sliding and is ideal for tasks involving wet or damp surfaces

Mushroom knobs

  • Aesthetically appealing with a great finish
  • The mushroom shape gives a secure grip
  • For door hardware, satin nickel finish mushroom door knobs are sure to define your home decor from the moment someone steps in
  • Additional finishes include polished chrome, matte black, polished nickel, polished brass, brushed brass, and more

Wing knobs

  • Suitable for cramped quarters
  • Designed to be tightened and loosened often
  • Available with quarter-turn latches, making it an excellent panel latch for a rack mount cabinet

Thumb screw knobs

  • To be used in place of a nut or bolt, or to press-fit onto screws
  • Makes a tiny knob for gripping or fastening items
  • Ideal for spaces that are restricted in size

Tapered knobs

  • At the end of a working lever, gear stick, or handwheels, a tapered knob serves as a solid and comfortable handle grip

Summary

Reid Supply provides a wide selection of industrial knobs used on manufacturing equipment and machines. Many of our knobs are intended for use on commercial items as well as specialist equipment. Our ball knobs are often seen on machine tools, fixtures, and jigs, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including knurled, round, recessed-top, and mushroom.

We also have a variety of bar knobs, control knobs, dresser knobs, drawer knobs, push-pull knobs, and thumb screw knobs in stock. Our entire array of knobs is available in aluminum, brass, iron, steel, stainless steel, zinc, nylon, phenolic, and thermoplastic materials.

Reid Supply offers a large range of high-quality handles, knobs, and levers to manufacturers, distributors, and other industry-related clients. Check out our online store for all of your equipment requirements.
If you have any further questions regarding the
product to select, please contact us and we will gladly assist you through the process.

Simply call us at 1(800) 253-0421 or email sales@reidsupply.com.