Stainless Steel fasteners are widely used for their excellent resistance to corrosion, extreme temperatures, and coastal environments. They are aesthetically pleasing, low maintenance and economical but if not cared for correctly, they can become susceptible to corrosion and damage, causing unnecessary downtime and costly repairs. Here, we outline some good habits to ensure that your stainless steel fasteners last as long as they should.
Grade and Cleanliness
In a previous post we highlighted the importance of selecting the correct grade of stainless steel, as well as following a proper cleaning schedule. In short, when selecting a grade, 304 and 316 both offer far better resistance to corrosion than other grades. They have a higher price tag but will last far longer and cost you less in the long run. The simplest way to care for your stainless steel fasteners is to keep them clean and free from contaminants. Regular exposure to rainwater helps to wash away contaminants and restore the steel’s protective layer.
Prior to assembly, it’s vital to apply some form of lubrication to the threads to avoid galling. The term ‘galling’ refers to the deterioration of the stainless steel’s protective surface as a result of direct metal contact. If the nuts and bolts are tightened without lubrication, they can become stuck or begin to tear under excessive force, leading to equipment damage. So, to preserve the chromium oxide on your stainless steel fasteners, be sure to coat the threads with a high-quality lubricant from our range of superior maintenance chemicals.
As we’ve mentioned, to ensure the longevity of stainless steel fasteners you need to preserve the chromium oxide layer. A highly effective solution can be achieved with electrochemical polishing. Electropolishing is essentially a similar, but reverse, process of electroplating. The process polishes, deburrs and passivates the microscopic surface of the fasteners, smoothing until it is microscopically featureless, removing even the smallest speck of torn or uneven surface.
Using the proper tools for the job is common sense, yet one of the main causes of premature wear and tear is when the holes for stainless steel fasteners are not properly slotted. If the holes are not correctly catered for the fasteners, their pull-out strength and holding capacity can be compromised and the fasteners will begin unscrewing, causing the equipment to become unstable. Using proper slotting tools for the holes is essential.
Along with a cleaning schedule, it’s advisable to dedicate some time and staff for a monitoring schedule as well. Sometimes, despite all our best efforts, defects occur and can go unnoticed until they cause irreversible damage and costly downtime of your equipment. A monitoring schedule that is implemented by dependable staff, can catch small defects and swiftly repair them before the problem escalates.