5 Questions to Ask When Choosing A Stainless Steel Hinge
Selecting quality hardware components plays a key role in ensuring successful appliance designs.
Good design frequently goes unnoticed in appliance operation. But, that’s not to say it isn’t appreciated. High-quality product designs are often not outwardly obvious to the end user, who expects a consistent experience each time they operate the appliance. In many cases, it’s the product with flawed operation that tends to garner more of a reaction—and ultimately unwanted recognition.
When designing an appliance, the level of attention given to the overall design is not often duplicated when selecting common hardware components, like hinges or fasteners. Because these products address the functional needs of the design, proper selection is critical to the overall performance of the application. If an inferior product is selected, the substandard performance of the appliance may only come to the forefront once the product has already been launched.
Selecting quality hardware components plays a key role in ensuring successful appliance designs. When specifying stainless steel hinges into appliance designs, asking the following questions will help differentiate between the many available hinge suppliers to select the right product for the application.
1. What do the testing and manufacturing processes reveal about potential performance?
For many engineers, cost and convenience of available solutions play key roles in the decision-making process. Short- and long-term performance is also important, but it can be challenging to assess when initially comparing one solution to another.
One way to differentiate between components is to evaluate the manufacturing and testing processes involved in developing the hinge, by asking potential suppliers how they test for and assure quality, durability and performance. Do they have any proprietary processes in place to ensure that design and aesthetic impact are matched by a high level of functionality?
A proven supplier should have manufacturing, testing and assembly processes in place that provide a high level of product integrity—even in the most demanding application environments.
2. Does the product aid in meeting regulatory requirements?
Compliance with regulatory requirements is not often the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about stainless steel hinges. However, choosing the right hinge can help meet the demands of industry-specific regulations. This goes even further than having the correct material grade to meet specific industry standards.
For example, this means asking whether the hinge has been tested for performance against moisture and dust (NEMA 4 / IP65) or against shock and vibration (EN61373). Even a small detail such as an exposed opening for a screw fitting has the potential to make controlled environments, such as food or pharmaceutical applications, more vulnerable to contaminants. Hinges that are constructed with stainless steel offer a high level of corrosion resistance and can withstand harsh cleaning agents and exposure to contamination.
A hinge with exposed openings or sharp corners may also increase the risk of injury and accident in environments that are heavily trafficked, such as fast food kitchens. In this case, stainless steel hinges with optional covers—used on an overheard exhaust hood for instance—can help prevent exposure to injury by shielding workers from sharp edges and providing a smooth, seamless surface.
3. Does the product provide consistent aesthetic impact?
Every surface mount hinge should look fresh and new when it has been delivered from the manufacturing facility, but what about two, five or even ten years down the line? Also, while it is relatively simple to maintain uniformly consistent hand-polished hinges in the hundreds, will the standard still be the same when the parts are purchased by the thousands?
To avoid a decline in hinge appearance, engineers should check that the hinge is processed in a way that ensures it has an identical high-quality finish every time, no matter the volume size. Proven suppliers will share the processes they use to provide long-lasting corrosion resistance, durability and “cleanability,” and also how they assure a refined look without sacrificing functionality.
When choosing a supplier, consider whether they offer optional features which enhance the appearance of the hinges without impacting their function, such as a high gloss finish option and cover options to hide mounting hardware.
4. What other benefits does this product bring to the application?
Asking the right questions early on in the design process can potentially highlight where product choice can bring added value to industrial machinery, HVAC and electrical equipment. A stainless steel hinge should provide consistent, reliable performance over its life cycle—this is where value is created, as no ongoing investment or maintenance is required.
Engineers should also be aware of the potential risks involved when selecting a surface mount hinge that is only available as a standalone part. Stainless steel hinges that are instead created as an entire system with a range of hinge leaf configurations and sizes, and optional complementary parts provide more design options and guarantee that all components will work together.
Furthermore, there may be the requirement for locks or latches on the same application where the hinges are used. Selecting all necessary components from one supplier versus many different vendors ensures compatibility of all solutions used in an application, and offers more design flexibility.
5. Will the product provide ROI over the life of the appliance?
Cost is often a major aspect of the component selection process. But it pays to go further by assessing the return on investment (ROI) of a hinge over the entire life cycle of the appliance. Engineers should seek options that are not only competitively priced, but also provide further advantages, such as whether the selected hinge has the potential to help resolve a design or function problem beyond performing one basic role.
Does the hinge assure high corrosion resistance for long-term performance or offer additional optional features that improve the quality of the end product or user environment? Asking a supplier how their stainless steel hinges are manufactured can potentially enhance the ROI of an entire project.