Sails, canvas covers, awnings, rigging equipment, environmental containment booms, the list goes on and on. Products made for the unique demands of marine applications have special needs, right down to the metal fasteners. The metal of choice is stainless steel and Stimpson is proud to be the premier manufacturer and supplier of 304 stainless steel grommets and washers to major marine industry manufacturers, countless small businesses and DIYers who custom craft each piece with skill and pride.
Why Choose 304 Stainless Steel?
304 stainless steel is the most common form of stainless and is sometimes referred to as A2 stainless. It’s a durable alloy that resists corrosion, and this property is critical for harsh environments. Saltwater, sea spray and the cycle of dampness and evaporation can dramatically increase the concentration of salt, which is corrosive and abrasive, on items used in marine environments. The metal fasteners used in awnings and sails, trampolines and deck chair covers, for instance, are integral parts of the entire product. Used for function, longevity, and looks 304 stainless steel is low maintenance, minimally magnetic, and not a good conductor of heat or electricity. However, its true superpower comes from its unique ability to oxidize. In most iron-based metals, oxidation is a fact of life and also a sign of degradation. Here’s your minute science review: iron reacts with oxygen to make rust or iron oxide because the oxygen molecule takes an electron from the iron molecule and as long as iron is in contact with oxygen, this will continue to happen. Stainless steel is an iron-based metal but its chemical makeup includes chromium which also reacts with oxygen, but unlike iron, creates an ultra-thin chalky veil that adheres to the stainless steel surface. It remains there as a protective barrier of sorts until it is wiped off or removed and then it replenishes itself. When selecting grommets and washers for use in marine environments, consider that red flaky rust will transfer to any object that comes in contact with it like flags or center console covers. Iron oxide also willingly travels on water droplets, depositing rust on other surfaces from the material adjacent to the grommets to the teak boat deck, the expensive gel coat, to fingers, tools, furniture, and equipment.
Pro Tips from Stimpson
Professional quality, professional finish
Our top selling 304 stainless steel rolled rim grommets with spur washers are best-sellers for marine applications for several reasons, corrosion resistance is just one. Our spur washers grip the material for an exceptionally strong hold, and the rolled rim is an attractive professional look to the finished product. The environment can really dish it out. Sun, wind, and rain are just the beginning. The end product, be it an oil boom, deck shade, flag, or rigging gear, must function properly every time it is deployed.
Use proper setting tools
Just because a grommet is called a #2, for instance, does not mean they can all be properly set with the same tool. Setting a #2 rolled rim grommet and #2 self-piercing grommet require different tools. Knowing this and using the right tools for the right fastener saves time and money, but also results in a superior final product. There is a critical relationship between the metal fastener and the tool. Even a few thousandths of an inch can mean the difference between a collapsed barrel and a perfect setting. Be sure to check the wear and tear on your setting tools as well. Force and pressure applied to set the grommets and washers causes wear over time on the tool itself. The slightest change in the tool can also lead to a less than perfect set.
Stainless steel is resilient and strong
304 stainless steel grommets cannot be electroplated, but it’s a popular choice because of its clean, finished appearance and low maintenance, as well as resistance to corrosion. It is the strongest material Stimpson offers, perfectly suited to stand up to harsh environmental conditions.