We launched Stainless Revolution because we believe that stainless steel is a highly sustainable and versatile material but it’s full potential remains to be utilized. We think that high strength stainless steels take both the sustainability and cost benefits of stainless steel to a significantly higher level. In this blog I will explain a little about the reasoning behind this – perhaps a bit bold – statement.
Stalatube has manufactured high-quality stainless steel tubes and profiles for close to five decades and over time, we have seen various industries adopting them to build safe and sustainable support structures. It is because of this experience that we feel confident enough to call stainless steel a wonderful material. If you work with it as a stockholder, fabricator, designer or end user, there is a good chance you just nodded your head in agreement.
But to call it revolutionary – or to suggest that we are on the cusp of a stainless revolution – is that too bold of a statement? We think not. Here is why.’
High Strength Stainless Structurals: Lighter yet superior
Our stainless revolution centers around high strength structurals. Of course, there is nothing new about stainless steel structures as such: they are already a go-to choice of many industries and in many applications. This is because of their great corrosion-resistance, energy-absorption properties, and durability, to name a few characteristics.
But a far more exciting angle – with the potential for large-scale added benefits – are structurals made of high strength stainless steels.
The bus and coach building industry and energy industry are two good examples of industries that have already successfully adopted high strength stainless structurals, and we have worked with these industries as a leading provider for quite some time now. The superiority of high strength stainless structurals has become evident in a few ways that often revolve around one key feature: weight savings.
As a result, we can typically use 25–35 % less material – and in some cases, even an over 40 % weight savings can be achieved.
The high strength of the material allows for considerable weight savings. The weigh reduction is achieved through a smaller wall thickness, while outer dimensions usually remain unchanged. As a result, we can typically use 25–35 % less material – and in some cases, even an over 40 % weight savings can be achieved, as demonstrated in this paper. The potential savings always depend on the application and the structure’s weight load.
We do not manufacture lighter structures out of high strength stainless steels for the sake of the lighter weight itself; the aim is to provide a tangible decrease in material, transportation, assembly, and total costs. The best part is that by using high strength stainless steel, costs savings can be achieved both in investment costs in the beginning and cumulative costs throughout the structure’s lifecycle.
In addition to cost-savings, sustainability is another great reason for choosing high strength stainless structurals. Stainless steel by nature is already 100 % recyclable and has a long service life with very little maintenance needs. However, being able to reduce the amount of material needed further decreases the carbon footprint of structures every step of the way.
What are these High Strength Stainless Structurals, then?
Many of our customers in the bus and coach industry and energy industry have become familiar with using high strength lean duplex grades, the first one in modern day stainless steel bus bodies and the latter in the topside support structures of oil and gas platforms.
Lean duplex indeed is a good example of a high strength stainless steel. Grades EN 1.4062 and EN 1.4162, for instance, provide a very high energy absorption capacity due to their high strength and ductility, making them rather ideal for bus body frames considering the safety demands in rollover situations.
The building and construction industry, on the other hand, has used a Stalatube creation for even longer: we launched the enhanced strength class Stala 350 for austenitic hollow sections 25 years ago, and balconies have become an iconic way to use it in the construction industry. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of this strength class, some memorable reference projects have been listed in this blog post.
Over the years, we have extended our enhanced strength class family by launching Stala 400F for stronger ferritics and Stala 630D for stronger lean duplexes.
Our next step is to bring out two new austenitic stainless steel grades for those that demand a higher proof strength or tensile strength than what regular EN 1.4307 or EN 1.4404 can offer. You will see us roll out these new standard materials by the end of this year – we will soon tell you more about them.
In addition to offering two new standard austenitic grades, we will launch an exciting new special strength class Stala 500A – watch this space for a special strength class for austenitic square and rectangular tubes between dimensions 60x60x3mm and 120x80x5 mm! On top of it, Stala 350 will be extended to large tubes above 100x100x6 mm.
Where to use High Strength Stainless Structurals?
There is a wide range of applications for utilizing high strength stainless steels. The most beneficial use of HS steels is in applications where the structures are exposed to la ot of force, or where the structure gains from lighter weight or better abrasion resistance.
- Architectural applications such as glass walls and balconies
- Civil engineering, e.g. bridges and dam structures
- Public buildings
- Process and transport tanks
- Process equipment
- Large vehicle chassis and bodies (buses and coaches, trucks, trains, trams)
- Cable supporting structures
- Onshore and offshore oil and gas platform secondary structures
Again here I must remind you, that the potential to replace traditional stainless steel grades with the more lightweight high strength options always depend on the application and the structure’s weight load, and must be investigated separately case by case.
Use our strength – let us help you get started
As you may now wonder if and how you should use high strength stainless steel structurals, we promise to provide you our decades-long expertise. Over the years, we have fine-tuned our skills and know-how to be able to offer you nothing but the best. You can count on our technical customer service to answer even the toughest questions.
We continuously monitor and develop the quality of our products, and our R&D team works with experienced research facilities to test new concepts – much like the strength class Stala 500A you will soon see us launch.
We are ready to help you to design lighter, more cost-effective and more sustainable structures for your needs by replacing all or some of the standard stainless steel materials to lighter high strength steels. Just contact us if you have a suitable project in mind and we’ll get right to it!
Go high strength and join the Stainless Revolution with us!