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Motion Control Engineering & Manufacturing Resources

Design Guide for Heavy-Duty Stainless Steel Marine Hinges

Posted by Weber Knapp on Jan 26, 2021 12:00:00 PM

heavy duty stainless steel marine hinges - door hinge

No matter where you live, work, or play, there are hinges around. Cabinets, fridges, grills, cars, and airplanes all have hinges that we interact with on the day-to-day

Boats in particular offer an interesting opportunity for implementing kinematic motion control, mechanical spring counterbalance, and spring assist technologies. Marine hinge design takes into account factors ordinary hinge design might not, including weather condition, humidity, and corrosion. 

Heavy-duty stainless steel hinges are common for marine applications, making it easier to lift heavy hatches or secure windows. Let’s dive into the details.

Where to Use Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Marine Hinges?

Anyone that works with boats or submarines knows how important good hinges are. Some applications where heavy duty stainless steel marine hinges are a must include:

  • Barges: Cargo is usually protected beneath large hatches, so heavy duty hinge mechanisms can make accessing cargo easier.
  • Submarines: External hatches secure the lives of underwater sailors from the dangers of the sea, while internal hatches prevent leakage in the event of damage to one compartment.
  • Marine engine hatch hinges: These hinges protect the vital inner workings of the vessel. Motor box hinges are particularly applicable for lids and hatches that cover equipment requiring routine maintenance.
  • Boat hatches and hinged marine windows: These functional marine accessories are most likely to receive the heaviest amount of regular use. Heavy duty hinges can lengthen the life of these components, and minimize maintenance requirements.

Sturdy marine deck hinges make life onboard safe and secure for everyone from the weekend sailor to the high seas fisherman. Regular hardware store hinges simply won’t cut it when it comes to the harsh humidity and salt.

Stainless Steel Marine Hinge Design Guide

Every industry has its unique hinge design guidelines. For example, grill or appliance hinges must be heat resistant, while outdoor hinges require special coatings to protect from the elements. 

Marine hinges must be functional for their specific purpose, and able to withstand corrosion due to salt and weather conditions. Heavy duty hinges can greatly improve the load-bearing capabilities for a variety of marine applications. Design considerations include:

  • Type of material
  • Protective coatings
  • Cycle life
  • Weight requirements


Although there are many benefits to lightweight aluminum hinges, marine applications usually rely on the benefits of strong and rust-resistant stainless steel. 

Common marine hinge steels are DH36, AH.36, and EH36. With their exceptional durability, endurance, and tensile strength, they are particularly weldable and can be shaped to fit multiple marine hinge applications. 

In certain cases brass marine hinges or bronze marine hinges may also have a certain aesthetic appeal.


Beyond meeting stringent EPA requirements, the location of where the hinge is used (above or below the water line), will determine the coating required. Anodizing can produce a protective oxide layer but, if the hinge will be immersed, treatment beyond a rust-corrosion coating may be necessary.

Cycle Life

Another consideration is how long the hinges will have to last. Hinges can be designed to last longer (or shorter) depending on the application and the project budget. For example, many refrigerator hinges are built to last 100,000 cycles or more. 

Depending on the use, your hinge might not need to be built to last nearly as long. If you have a counterbalance hinge on the engine box, think about how many times you’ll open it. Chances are not as many times as you’ll open your refrigerator door.

Weight Requirements

As you can imagine, some marine hatches are quite heavy. Submarines, for instance, might have extremely heavy hatches, but because the entire mechanism is underwater, providing a counterbalance solution is difficult. 

But, for hatches that won’t be underwater or are on the interior, different hinges may be required for varying weight. Spring assist hinges might be useful for interior cabinet doors, while heavy duty counterbalances would work better for engine compartment lids or hatches.

The Right Hinge for Your Marine Applications

Every hinge application is different, so working with a custom motion control hinge designer will go a long way to making sure your project gets the hinge it needs. 

To learn more about the capabilities of motion control and counterbalance technology, check out our free guide!

motion control and counterbalancing for product design

Topics: Applications, Ergonomics, Motion Control, Design, Hinge, Hinges, Industrial, Finishing, Durability, Manufacturing