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Stainless steel in the construction industry

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Stainless steel as we know it today was developed in the early 1900's. Apart from improvement of the standard grades, as well as the introduction of new grades, it really hasn't changed much at all, resulting in its continuation of the strong characteristics it possesses, but the big change is that it is now a very popular choice for many applications in new homes and home renovations.

Benefits of Stainless Steel

  • A high resistance to corrosion
  • Resistance to high and low temperatures
  • Most stainless steels are easily fabricated
  • Heat treatment of stainless steel provides high strength components
  • It provides various surface finishes that are easily maintained
  • It provides a high quality pleasant appearance in a variety of applications
  • The ability to easily clean stainless steel provides enormous hygienic advantages
  • Due to its durability and low maintenance it provides a long life cycle product

Types of Stainless Steel

Today stainless steel is a generic term for a family of corrosion resistant alloy steels containing 10.5% or more chromium.

Grade 304 is the standard '18/8' stainless. It is the most versatile and most widely used stainless steel, available in a wider range of products, forms and finishes than any other. It has excellent forming and welding characteristics

All stainless steels have a high resistance to corrosion. This resistance to attack is due to the naturally occurring chromium-rich oxide film formed on the surface of the steel. Even though it is extremely thin, this invisible, inert film is tightly adherent to the metal and extremely protective in a wide range of corrosive media. The film is rapidly self repairing in the presence of oxygen, and damage by abrasion, cutting or machining is quickly repaired.

Many different elements can be added in varying quantities to stainless steel, which provides a range of grades, each with different properties.

There are a number of grades of stainless steels it can be divided into five basic categories:

  • austenitic
  • ferritic
  • duplex
  • martensitic
  • precipitation hardening

Austenitic and ferritic grades make up approximately 95% of stainless steel applications.

Applications of Stainless Steel

Whether it is a new home or home renovation that you are undertaking, stainless steel is increasingly popular for use in residential applications even though in the past it has been mostly used in commercial and industrial kitchens, laundries and bathrooms.

It is ideal for use in the following situations:

  • Construction
  • Cladding
  • Roofing
  • Facades
  • Balustrading
  • Kitchens

Environmental Qualities

With the ever increasing demand and regard that we place on protecting our environment we are constantly looking for products that are less damaging to our environment.

Stainless steel is a precious scrap material. It is 100% recyclable and a preferred raw material input by steel makers. Stainless steel production incorporates high levels of scrap use (as high as 80% of charged materials will be scrap stainless steel). New stainless steel comprises at least 50% recycled stainless steel product and more than half the stainless steel produced today has already been another useful stainless steel product in the past.

As stainless steel is durable and requires a minimum of maintenance, outlasting many competing products, it therefore doesn't require the need to add potential hazardous materials such as cleaners, solvents, paint and fire protective coatings.

Despite the very high recycling of old stainless steel products, some stainless steel will find its way to landfills or other disposal sites. In these circumstances no detrimental effect to soil or ground water is expected.

Development of Stainless Steel

Research by producers of stainless steel continues in regard to its chemical composition, innovations in stainless steel making technologies, new rolling technologies, quality control and providing lower costs, which will ultimately provide consumers and our environment with a high quality, very appealing product.

Source: Australian Stainless Steel Development Association (ASSDA)