Few environments are more corrosive than the marine environment. The wind, sun, and especially the water can do quite a number on a wide variety of materials. Strength is important if you’re building underwater or constructing a ship, so it makes sense that you’d want to use the strongest material available—metal.
Well, if you scroll through our plastic fastener articles, you’ll quickly discover that metal isn’t always the best solution. It isn’t always the best solution when it comes to marine environments either.
Here are the top 4 reasons to use plastic marine fasteners.
1. Plastic marine fasteners won’t corrode in water
Even people who don’t work in construction know that metal can rust over time. The only metals that don’t are gold, platinum, and palladium, but because they’re so expensive, they don’t make good building materials. That leaves builders with other materials that can rust, especially under water, which ultimately weakens the structure.
The solution to this problem is often stainless steel. That’s because chromium is added to regular steel, creating a passive layer of chromium oxide when it’s exposed to oxygen. This passive layer is impervious to water and air, even when it’s scratched. The trouble is, salt water does something much worse to stainless steel than a simple scratch.
Salt water is highly corrosive because it contains chloride. It actually attacks the passive film that gives stainless steel its protective properties, which means even it will erode when exposed to salt water.
Plastics don’t have this problem. They won’t ever rust, but some plastics hold up even better in seawater because they’re resistant to corrosion too.
For example, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is often used in underwater plumbing pipes and boat accessories because it is chemically inert and corrosion resistant. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) is often used in aquaculture applications. Isoplast is even stronger than both PVC and PET, providing users with even more options. It doesn’t absorb water and isn’t affected by saltwater, gasoline, Clorox, and many other chemicals. It is strong enough to be used with metal materials, making it an especially good choice in marine environments.
2. Some plastics are UV resistant
If you’re building in a marine environment, considering the impact of water on the finished product is vital, but it isn’t the only consideration. Being out on the water means being under the harsh rays of the sun too.
Not only can you expect metal to corrode under water, you can expect it to degrade when exposed to UV radiation. It isn’t uncommon for metal to become more brittle as it spends time out in the sun. Plastic doesn’t have the same problem.
Many plastics are actually resistant to UV rays. Some are so resistant that they can handle outer space. Fluoropolymers and polyimides have even been used in the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station. Plastics are also used in the aerospace industry.
It’s important to choose plastics, like the ones mentioned above, because not all plastics have UV-resistant properties. At the very least, some plastics will fade in the sun. Some will actually corrode in the sun and become brittle, ultimately compromising the strength of the plastic fastener. If you’re looking for plastic marine fasteners that are resistant to UV rays, make sure you choose your fasteners carefully.
3. Plastic marine fasteners can be combined with other materials
Plastics can retain their strength over time when exposed to salt water or UV radiation, but that doesn’t mean they’re as strong as metal. That’s why builders still turn to metal materials when strength is of the utmost importance.
Just because metal is stronger than most plastics doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the benefits that plastics have to offer in the marine environment. You can actually find plastic fasteners that contain a metal core. The metal core makes the fastener exceptionally strong, while the plastic coating will protect your fastener from the corrosion of salt water and UV radiation.
4. Plastic marine fasteners requires less maintenance
When it comes right down to it, the biggest benefit of plastic marine fasteners is the fact that they require very little maintenance.
If you want to keep your metal fasteners from corroding in salt water, they will have to be rinsed regularly with fresh water. If your metal fasteners are corroding in the sun, they will have to be replaced. If you choose plastic fasteners, you don’t have to worry about doing either, which drastically reduces the need for regular maintenance.
The success of your project hinges on the quality of the fasteners you choose. If you want to reduce maintenance be eliminating corrosion from chloride and UV radiation, let us help. Contact us today and we’ll help you find the perfect fasteners for your marine project.