Companies that mass produce hardware typically use stainless steel, which is considered a high-quality alloy that comes with a premium price. Instead of using traditional steel that’s made of only carbon and iron, some manufacturers opt for alloys that contain other metals. The addition of different raw elements and compounds creates much more affordable steel. For example, several different classes of metal oxides tend to improve the durability of stainless steel. Resistance to corrosion can be improved by adding just a little bit of protective metals into steel alloys.
Hardware that is exposed to high levels of humidity can get damaged quickly. Rusting is a major concern in marine environments. Saltwater and moisture tend to degrade traditional stainless steel in a relatively short amount of time. Materials science specialists work closely with hardware manufacturers to find modern solutions for mass producing durable metal alloys. The properties of metals have to be manipulated based on desired quality in a final product. Some hardware can be magnetized with the integration of iron compounds that are structurally different than elemental iron found in steel.
The electrical conductivity of metal hardware should be reduced in order to minimize any shocks and sparks. Therefore, alloys that have great electrical insulation properties are usually integrated into certain hardware. A part such as a draw latch is made of metal alloys that prevent the buildup of static electricity in door hinges and other components like handles.
Companies that manufacture hardware also need to consider how well their machines can handle certain alloys. For example, it should be easy for industrial quality machinery to cut, compress and grind materials that are used for mass production. Most alloys are softened up temporarily with heat before being shaped and assembled. Additionally, precise cooling processes must be applied to restore the hardness of metal alloys that is very desirable. Excessive cooling could actually compromise the desired quality of stainless steel. For example, the structure of such an alloy can become brittle when it’s cooled for too long in industrial-grade chambers.