Foundation of quality and profitability

By Andy Holland, Technical and Marketing Manager at Rapierstar.

Choosing poor quality components for fabrication is a risky business and one that is only going to end badly in the long term. This is undoubtedly the case for fasteners. Failure to source and apply the right fasteners will quickly result in a reputation for sub-standard finished windows and doors, which are inefficient to manufacture and hinder profitability.

Great skill and technical expertise is required to manufacture fasteners in huge volumes to a consistently high standard. In Rapierstar’s case, more than 49 manufacturing and distribution processes are involved for every screw. Keeping all these processes in check across eight main stages of manufacture is crucial to ensuring that fabricators can benefit from a reliable supply of top quality fasteners – and this can only be achieved by adopting a ‘test and test again’ regime.

Rapierstar’s dedication to testing means that windows or doors built using StarPVCU or StarAlu fasteners can be sold with credible and meaningful warranties against premature failure. Great for providing customer confidence, this also eliminates the fastener as the cause of costly remedial work. The potential cost savings – financially and reputationally – from an incorrectly specified tiny component can, therefore, be significant.

Important too is the need to test that fasteners are easy, efficient and safe to use. Nobody wants production to be hindered by fasteners that are awkward to use because they are poorly manufactured or break easily on insertion. This provides further cost-saving potential through improved manufacturing efficiency, plus a lower risk of complaints from production operatives, whose job is often made harder or more dangerous through poor quality fasteners.

This is why Rapierstar tests so comprehensively. Superior manufacturing quality is assured through our long-standing partnerships with internationally acknowledged manufacturers in the Far East. But once in the UK, all Rapierstar-branded fasteners are batch tested again in-house to check the products’ suitability and quality – this involves eight main tests for every consignment of screws

Checking long-term corrosion resistance:

Salt spray testing checks how the coatings and materials used in the product’s manufacture will withstand an accelerated corrosive attack, in order to predict how well it will perform in-situ.

Depth of plating must be sufficient to perform as promised and is checked using internationally accepted plating depth test equipment.

Checking for breakage potential:

Ductility. Tested using calibrated test blocks conforming to acknowledged standards. Screws are only approved if no breakages occur and there is no sign of cracking.

Torque. The fastener’s optimal torsional strength and design specifications are checked to ascertain that the screw will not break, except under excessive forces.

Checking for fabrication safety and efficiency:

Dimensions. Manufacturing consistency is monitored by checking fastener dimensions on every batch, including the depth of recess which is measured using finely calibrated dial indicator gauges. This ensures that the screwdriver bit fits perfectly for safer fabrication.

Wobble. Screws are tested for the extent that they wobble during insertion by using a certified plug gauge. The international recommendation allows for 12° of movement, but Rapierstar only accepts 6° of movement, making insertion and fabrication easier and safer.

Speed of insertion. Rapierstar also conducts a test for speed of insertion, done using custom designed equipment to ensure that the screws in every batch allow for fast, cost effective production.

Checking for hidden dangers:

Hydrogen embrittlement. Every batch of electroplated carbon steel fasteners is tested to detect those that might fail after initial fixing due to ‘hydrogen embrittlement’. If left unchecked, this could result in the screw breaking in-situ and resulting in costly remediation work.

Fasteners may well be a low unit cost component, but that should not make them a low priority when sourcing products. Rapierstar has an extensive testing regime in place because even the very smallest design or manufacture weaknesses in a screw can ultimately become the weakest link in your supply chain.

To help choose the right fasteners and use them in the right way to deliver high quality finished products in an efficient, safe and profitable way, Rapierstar offers fabricators a unique fastener Health Check. This starts with an in-depth audit on current usage and provides expert advice on how to improve performance, procurement and fabrication.