Article
A number of materials can be used to manufacture electrical connectors and couplers, with steel and zinc leading the pack. Each material has its advantages that can make it more appropriate for specific applications, but it’s important to remember that all such fittings have to meet specific requirements to gain a UL listing. For example, die-cast zinc alloy offerings can add value where corrosion is a threat.

Corrosion Resistance and Precise Casting Give Contractors Something to Zinc About

Chuck Ross
A number of materials can be used to manufacture electrical connectors and couplers, with steel and zinc leading the pack. Each material has its advantages that can make it more appropriate for specific applications, but it’s important to remember that all such fittings have to meet specific requirements to gain a UL listing. For example, die-cast zinc alloy offerings can add value where corrosion is a threat.

Zinc is mined in a number of locations around the world, with Peru and Mexico leading the pack, and the United States at fourth in total production. It’s combined with other metals – including aluminum, copper and magnesium, among others – to create alloys suitable for a range of applications. Die-casting forces molten zinc alloys into a mold (also called a die) at high pressure. Because these molds can be used thousands of times, each part is a perfect match for another. And zinc alloys are capable of reproducing threading and other details with very high accuracy, making fittings easy to install in the field.

Inherent corrosion resistance is another big plus for fittings fabricated from zinc alloy. While zinc plating over steel or other metals also provides a barrier that can keep corrosion from occurring, that protection is only skin deep. If the plating is damaged, the resulting exposure to water and air can allow rust to occur beneath the surface. That can’t occur with zinc alloy materials because the protection carries all the way through the body of the fitting.

This combination of exact replication of mold details and through-body corrosion resistance can lead to easier installation and a longer lifespan in the field. Additionally, because zinc alloy is less expensive than steel, opting for fittings made from the material can have bottom-line advantages, as well.
Photo courtesy of Bridgeport Fittings
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