Globalisation has led to significant new competition from low-cost producers in high-volume product categories that can be copied easily. Industrial tube fittings are no exception. Parker Instrumentation has published a white paper that details tests made on products from an example 'low-cost producer'.
As many fittings end up being used on plants processing harsh media, or in environments that are corrosive, users need to be aware of the potential implications of choosing parts based mainly on cost criteria.
In conjunction with the University of Plymouth, Parker Instrumentation subjected an example low-cost producer's tube fittings to a test programme involving optical, scanning electron microscope and laser microscopy observation, plus traditional mechanical performance measurements and corrosion tests.
The results clearly demonstrate that the use of poor quality steel - containing lots of inclusions and impurities - and the subsequent processing treatments, result in poor end products with little resistance to corrosion. The test results show, for example, the onset of corrosion after only 24 hours' exposure to salt spray - which is a common problem in offshore environments.
Spencer Nicholson, Parker Instrumentation's R&D director, warns: "Buying goods on price alone can be an extremely poor decision. Tube fitting failure can have disastrous consequences in a large proportion of common applications. Parker views it as no less than critical that users carefully consider a fitting's design and production process before making a purchasing decision. Copying a design and producing a 'look alike' part is easy, but that does not make it fit for purpose. The material for our own tube fittings comes exclusively from high-quality European sources, and is subjected to an independent intergranular corrosion test before product manufacturing even begins. This is followed by a number of unique processing stages aimed at optimising reliability and corrosion resistance."
The white paper can be downloaded from www.wordsun.com/ParkerWP.pdf