Hinges are created for different applications. They differ in utility, efficiency upon installation, and price. While the primary function of a small hinge is to join two pieces and allow movement, some serve as decorative pieces on tool kits and cabinets. Variations between hinges depend on the base materials and the process involved in manufacture.
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Materials Used in Manufacturing Small Hinges
The forming material determines the cost and the applications of hinges. The same forming material determines which finishes are used on hinges.
Here are the common materials used to produce small hinges:
- An alloy of carbon and iron, but it can also be alloyed with a number of other metals to create compounds with better properties. For instance, steel alloyed with nickel and chromium produces stainless steel hinges, which are resistant to rust and ideal for use in high moisture conditions or on hinges exposed to corrosive substances.
- Whether used for box hinges, concealed hinges, or strap hinges, stainless steel has a horde of benefits. In most cases, stainless steel is used to create large steel hinges for security purposes, but it can also be used on the small ones.
- Forms part of most miniature hinges and is only second to stainless steel. Brass is a combination of copper and zinc. The alloy created by these two metals has a lower melting point than either of the metals and a great malleability. Brass is relatively easy to fabricate compared to steel and other metals. Even better, the yellowish gold color of brass makes it ideal for use in decorative mini hinges.
- Brass is preferred by manufacturers due to its strength and ability to resist erosion. Besides the sturdiness of small brass hinges, brass is easy to shape. Brass hinges are used as cabinet hinges, cupboard hinges and bag hinges among other applications.
- An alloy of copper and tin. Just like brass, bronze is easy to form and can be used to create different forms of mini hinges. The alloy forms a reddish color on the surface, which makes it ideal for use in decorative hinges. Bronze is known to have low metal-to-metal friction, and, as such, it is great for use on hinge joints.
- Common as miniature hinges. These are normally fitted on small cabinets. Almost every manufacturer uses polypropylene reinforced with nylon to make them stronger. These hinges are mostly manufactured as decorative hinges since they are made available in different colors, designs, and shapes. The only drawback with plastic hinges is that they are not durable.
Manufacturing Process of Small Hinges
Thermal treatment is involved in making hinges. Here, the forming material of hinges is put in a high heat medium in an industrial smelting unit or oven. This process makes the forming material malleable. When a metal block is melted, it becomes easy to configure and mold to different shapes as needed. Heating may also interfere with the chemical composition of metal. However, the chemical composition does not change much unless the manufacturer adds other substances or chemicals.
After melting the material block, the next step is machining. Here, the melted material is cut, flattened, or deformed and then stamped to form tiny hinges. This is the same process for all types of materials. One of the most common machining techniques used is casting. Casting is preferred due to its simplicity. Here, metal is melted and then placed in a mold where it solidifies into the desired shape. Casting is followed by finishing processes such as smoothing. Finishing processes enhance the aesthetics of hinges. Decorative hinges are offered with good looking finishes in a wide variety of colors.
Hand-casting is labor intensive and, consequently, the mini hinges produced are more expensive. Other labor-intensive machining methods also result in more expensive hinges.
Notable Types of Small Hinges
Miniature hinges are normally used as small box hinges. They are as diverse as large hinges and, therefore, come in different designs, sizes, and material. These specialty hinges are created as small as 10mm, while others are slightly longer.
The most common types of small hinges include:
- Small Butt Hinges
- This is a common and diverse type of pivot on the market today. Small butt hinges are designed in various sizes, with the smallest measuring 13mm long. Though they are widely used and most companies supplying hinges have them, once they are installed, they are not easy to adjust. A butt hinge can be used on boxes, bags, and cabinets.
- Butterfly Hinges
- True to their name, these hinges come in the shape of a butterfly. They are different shapes. However, each still looks like a butterfly. They are easy to install and may be made of different materials. In industries, they are used for decoration.
- Flush Hinges
- Unique in that they do not require a recess to be cut. They are cut from a single piece of metal. However, these hinges are not as strong as small butt hinges. They are used as cabinet hinges and small box hinges.
- Barrel Hinges
- This type is created with two main parts, each with a threaded extension. The two parts are supposed to be joined before hinges are installed. Each of the parts is installed by screwing the threaded part into an already drilled hole. They are easy to manufacture and also easy to install.
- Concealed Hinges
- Offered in two main sizes. The smallest is 25mm, and the largest is 36 mm. You can adjust these hinges once they are installed. They are created for chipboard and MDF. Like hidden hinges, these hinges are fitted so they are not visible.
- Piano Hinges
- These are also called continuous hinges. They are useful where long hinges are required. They have been used as gate hinges and cupboard hinges. The hinges are designed in either brass or steel. Piano hinges are fixed into position with miniature countersink screws.
- Self Closing Hinges
- Like spring loaded hinges that close after the door is released. Refrigerator door hinges are a good example of these types of hinges. When the box door is closed, the hinges are not visible.
- Overlay Hinges
- These are used in kitchen cabinets, but they have also been used as gate hinges. They are preferred since they completely hide the cabinet they are attached to. These hinges appear to have straight arms and they fall in the category of adjustable hinges. Using three small screws, these hinges can be adjusted to fit on the box door snugly and conceal the box door frame.
- Inset Hinges
- Related to overlay hinges only in that their arms have a large crank that allows the box door to be set inside the door frame. They are used on cabinet doors, box doors, and glass doors in kitchen cupboards.