Environmental Testing For Construction Tools

October 6, 2014

Tool testing

If your brand new circular saw falls off the tailgate of your pickup onto the pavement, will it still work when you go to use it next time? Or if you live by the ocean, will the salt air corrode your nailing gun?

Manufacturers of heavy duty construction tools subject them to rigorous testing before they get sent to market to make sure they can take the abuse that life in the real world has in store for them. That testing falls into 7 main categories:

  • Sand and Dust
  • Shock
  • Random Vibration
  • Temperature and Humidity
  • Chemical Resistance
  • UV Exposure
  • Corrosion

Construction sites have a lot of sand and dust that gets into tools through any available opening causing bearing damage, forming conductive bridges that degrade tool operation, or acting as a sponge for humidity in the air. In a laboratory environment, blowers move very specific dust, gravel, and sand types all around the product in an enclosed chamber while measuring concentration, pressure, temperature, and humidity levels.

During shock testing, drop testers can angle and drop a product at specified angles and from various heights to test impact on corners and side to simulate shock impulses it will experience during shipping, loading, transport. It also reveals how resistant the tool is to being dropped or kicked, while vibration testing determines a tool’s resistance to the hum of an engine and the movement of a truck bed or trailer during transport.

Temperature and humidity chambers subject tools to extremes of heat, cold and moisture. Tools have to be able to function in the freezing cold of a Montana winter or the sticky heat of New Orleans in the summer. The testing makes sure the tools operate properly under these harsh conditions.

During chemical resistance testing, tools are sprayed with a variety of liquids they are likely to encounter on the job. Bombarding them with bleach, WD-40, gasoline, fertilizer, insecticides, degreasers, antifreeze and hydraulic fluid are all part of the testing regimen.

Weathering and UV exposure can cause loss of gloss, fading, yellowing, cracking, peeling, embrittlement, loss of tensile strength, and delamination. Xenon arc lights do a good job of mimicking extreme sun exposure.

Salt from ocean air or ice melting compounds is a powerful corrosive. ASTM B117 calls for a 96-hour exposure to a 5 percent salt fog to make sure that the quality of coatings, plating and seals will meet customer expectations.

Professional construction tools are expensive. Breakdowns on the job can cause delays that eat up profits. But rigorous environmental testing can make sure the tools construction workers use are durable and able to perform reliably under all conditions.

 

Source | Images: Buildipedia


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Stephen Hanley

lives in Rhode Island and writes about topics at the convergence of technology and ecology. You can follow him on Google + and Twitter.
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