Salt Spray Testing on Fence Gate Hardware, Hinges & Latches

September 8, 2022

The language experts at Merriam-Webster define strength as the quality or state of being strong: capacity for exertion or endurance. Fence contractors and property owners count on endurance when choosing materials they know need to withstand constant use or exposure to harsh elements. There’s no better example of the necessity for this type of strength in the fencing business than the hardware — hinges, and latches — on fence gates. At Nationwide Industries, we design, manufacture, and test our products to ensure they maintain their integrity and meet the demands of continuous outdoor use. Then, we stand behind our work with the industry-leading Million Cycle Warranty. 

Our last blog covered Nationwide Industries’ Million Cycle Warranty —through constant usage product testing. Here we explain how we ensure the strength of our hinges and latches.      

Salt Spray Testing

Salt spray testing enables us to assess the corrosion resistance of the materials and coatings that make up our products. During a salt spray test, product engineers initiate a concentrated chemical evaluation to determine how well the coating shields the material from corrosion. The results from our salt spray testing help to establish whether a gate’s hardware is strong enough to hold up to long-term, relentless environmental pressures because, after all, the hardware takes the brunt of a gate’s use.

Salt spray testing is commonly used to evaluate the difference between predictable and actual corrosion resistance. Nationwide Industries’ testing compares and evaluates products from different manufacturing facilities to confirm the consistency of product quality. The testing is designed to evaluate the resistance level of a product. Signs of corrosion — red or white rust— or traces of oxidation demonstrate how durable the material is and help to ensure that the products are being treated and painted correctly during the production process.  The test not only looks at the corrosion resistance of the material but also shows us how coatings hold up. 

ASTM B117 (American Society for Testing Materials) is the test standard for the salt spray (fog) test environment. The test is used to compare the corrosive resistance of various metals or finishes in a marine environment.

At Nationwide Industries, our salt spray tests are performed in a closed testing chamber at our Tampa, Florida facility at a higher temperature than the ASTM B117 standard (35C/95F) to increase the corrosion rate. The saltwater solution is applied using a spray nozzle, which helps to imitate a corrosive setting.  It allows for a quicker result from the testing.

“Our test runs are comparative, meaning we are looking at two different parts to see how each performance compares,” said Erik Timothy, director of engineering at Nationwide Industries.

“We do not classify slight degradation as a failure and will continue to run the test well past the first signs of rust.”

Why? Because there are several factors for measuring failure — from any sign to a certain amount of corrosion to a specific size of paint or powder coat defect to corrosion from a scratch intentionally put on the surface before testing — and Nationwide Industries will run the tests until the product is considered non-functional.

While the ASTM B117 does not dictate the length of exposure — the standard is 24-hour blocks of time — we run the test in 100-hour increments, documenting any changes to the parts. ASTM indicates the most popular testing durations are 96-, 240- and 600-hour exposures.

“We will run a true ASTM B117 test using the salt spray chamber at the PrimeSource Innovation and Test Lab located in California or an independent lab,” said Timothy.

Determining what external factors can produce corrosion is not a simple process. However, testing procedures help ensure that products not only meet industry expectations but also that property owners are satisfied, and contractors can have confidence that their reputation for quality stays intact for the long haul.

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