Posted 3 May 2012

Stainless steel can provide excellent service underground. It is stronger than polymers and copper and its resistance to chlorides and acidic acids is significantly better than carbon or galvanised steels.

The performance of stainless steel buried in soil depends on the nature of the buried environment. If the soil has a high resistivity and is well drained, performance can be excellent even in conditions where other unprotected materials suffer degradation.


The Nickel Institute guidelines for burial of bare stainless steel in soil require:

  • No stray currents (see below) or anaerobic bacteria
  • pH greater than 4.5
  • Resistivity greater than 2000 ohm.cm.

Additional recommendations include the absence of oxidising manganese or iron ions, avoidance of carbon-containing materials and ensuring a uniform, well drained fill. If the guidelines are breached, then either a higher resistivity is required, i.e. measures to lower moisture or salts and ensure resistivity exceeds 10,000 ohm.cm, or else additional protective measures may be required.
In comparison, the piling specification (AS 2159) guidelines for mild steel require a pH greater than 5 and resistivity greater than 5000 ohm.cm for soils to be non-aggressive. It is rare for bare mild steel to be buried, i.e. typical specifications include a wrap or coating possibly with a cathodic protection system.


  • Uniform soil packing is required as variable compaction can induce differential aeration effects.
  • Avoid organic materials in the fill around buried stainless steel as they can encourage microbial attack.
  • Avoid carbon-containing ash in contact with metals in soils. Localised galvanic attack of the metal can occur.
  • Oxygen access is critical. Having good drainage and sand backfill provides this. A sand-filled trench dug through clay may become a drain and it is not appropriate. Stainless steels generally retain their passive film provided there is at least a few ppb of oxygen, i.e. 1000 times less than the concentration in water exposed to air.
  • Chlorides are the most frequent cause of problems with stainless steels. In soils, the level of chlorides vary with location, depth and, in areas with rising salinity, with time.  High surface chlorides may also occur with evaporation. This is a problem for all metals although stainless steels are not usually subject to structural failure.

The general guidelines for immersed service are that in neutral environments at ambient temperatures and without crevices, 304/304L may be used up to chloride levels of 200ppm, 316/316L up to about 1000ppm chloride and duplex (2205) up to 3600ppm chloride. The super duplex alloys (PRE>40) and the 6% molybdenum super austenitic stainless steels are resistant to seawater levels of chloride, i.e. approximately 20,000ppm. These guidelines are easy to apply in aqueous solutions.

Soil tests for chlorides may not exactly match actual exposure conditions in the soil. Actual conditions may be more (or less) severe than shown by the tests. The difference is calculable but in practice, the aqueous limits can be used as general guidelines. More specific recommendations, based on published guidelines, are provided in Table 1.



It may seem redundant to assess both chlorides and resistivity. Both are required as the resistivity is primarily affected by water content and if it is low, then quite high chlorides could be tolerated – as seen by the choice of 304/304L in high chloride/high resistivity conditions.  Despite these recommendations, most Australian practice is to use 316/316L or equivalent, primarily because of variable soils.

  • Good drainage and uniform, clean backfill are essential for bare stainless.
  • Duplex or super duplex could be replaced with appropriate austenitics and 304/304L could be replaced with a lean duplex.
  • Ferritic stainless steels of similar corrosion resistance (usually classified by Pitting Resistance Equivalent [PRE]) could also be used underground.

Potential acid sulphate soils are widespread, particularly in coastal marine areas as described in http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/land/ass/index.html. Once disturbed and drained, which also allows oxygen access, such soils typically become more acidic than pH 4 and will attack metals (although stainless steels will be less readily attacked than other metals). Detailed assessment is required if using metals in such an environment as the effect of other aggressive ions is likely to be more severe at low pH.

  1. Properly specified stainless steel can provide the longest service underground. It is strong compared to plastics and copper, and is more reliably corrosion resistant than carbon steel.
  2. Table 1 guides grade choice for soil conditions.
  3. Normal fabrication practices apply: welds must be pickled and carbon steel contamination avoided.
  4. Pipelines must be buried in clean sand or fine, uniform fill in a self-draining trench that avoids stagnant water. Organic or carbonaceous fill must be avoided.


The Nickel Institute published a five year Japanese study in 1988 (#12005) showing 304 and 316 gave good service in buried soil, although vertically buried pipes did suffer some minor pitting and staining apparently due to differential aeration effects.

  • NI #12005 describes a five year burial exposure in Japan at 25 sites with highly varied corrosivity. After five years in marine sites, horizontal 304 pipes showed no pitting but some crevice attack under vinyl wrap. Only one 316 pipe showed any attack.
  • Vertical 304 pipe suffered attack near the base at some sites apparently due to differential aeration effects.
  • An Idaho study of a 33-year NIST burial found 12% Cr martensitics perforated. The ‘lake sand’ site had high ground water with pH 4.7 at recovery. Sensitised 304 was attacked worse than annealed but both suffered attack along the rolling direction from edges.
  • 316 was not attacked even if sensitised.

As noted, duplex stainless steel of similar corrosion resistance (PRE) to 304 and 316, respectively, would be expected to provide similar results when buried.

On a more practical level, there are several common approaches that are used when burying stainless steel:

  • Wrap the stainless steel pipe in a protective material, such as a petrolatum tape, prior to burial. If the wrapping is effective (typically an overlap no less than 55% of the wrap width is specified), then the nature of the external surface of the buried pipe is of no consequence. In this case, stainless steel is only used for its internal corrosion resistance, i.e. its resistance to corrosion by the fluid which the pipe is carrying. Some authorities prohibit this practice because of concerns that damage to the wrap could cause a perforating pit in severe environments.
  • Ensure that the soil environment surrounding the buried stainless steel is suitable for this application. In this case, the trench is dug so that it is self-draining, without there being areas where stagnant water can accumulate in contact with the buried pipe. The stainless steel pipe is then placed on a sand or crushed aggregate bed and covered by similar material. Under these circumstances,  316 grade stainless steel can be quite a suitable choice. US practice is to use 304 but Australian soils are quite variable and there have been mixed experiences with 304.
  • Above ground sections of pipework are often stainless steel as they are at risk of mechanical damage while underground pipework is polymeric - polyethylene (PE) or fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) - despite the risk of damage due to soil movement.

In all of these cases, the assumption is that the stainless steel has been fabricated to best practice. This includes pickling of welds (or mechanical removal of heat tint and chromium depleted layer followed by passivation to dissolve sulphides) and ensuring that contamination by carbon steel has been prevented. It is also assumed that the buried stainless steel does not have stickers or heavy markings that could cause crevices and lead to attack.


All buried metals, including stainless steels, are at risk if there are stray currents from electrically driven transport, incorrectly installed or operated cathodic protection systems, or earthing faults in switchboards. Stray current corrosion can be identified as it causes localised general loss rather than pitting. It is also very rapid.


There are Australian and ASTM standards giving basic measurements of resistivity on site with 4 pin Wenner probes or in a soil box in the laboratory. More detailed checking includes water content, chlorides, organic carbon or Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD), pH and redox (or Oxidation Reduction Potential [ORP]) potential – which assess microbial attack risk but also captures the effect of oxidising ions and dissolved oxygen. Most of these test methods are covered in “Soil Chemical Methods: Australasia” written by George E Rayment and David J Lyons and published by CSIRO.



Natural soils are a mixture of coarse pebbles, sand of increasing fineness through to silts and clays where the particles are less than 5 µm in diameter.  Some of the particles contain soluble salts that, if mixed with water, are likely to be corrosive. Normally, soils also contain organic material from decaying plants or ash, which can provide nutrients for microbial activity or galvanic effects, respectively.

If water is present in the soil, corrosion can take place. Metals below the water table can corrode (following the rules for immersed service). However if the soil is well compacted so oxygen cannot gain access or corrosion products cannot diffuse away, then corrosion would be stifled - even for carbon steel. Above the water table, moisture comes from percolating rain, which will, over time, leach away soluble corrosives and make the soil less aggressive. This also means that in dry climates, salts may accumulate and when there is rain, the run-off or percolating water is very aggressive.  Deposited salts can also be a problem in marine zones almost regardless of rainfall.

Most of the moisture above the water table is bound to particles but if there is sufficient water content, typically more than about 20%, enough water is free to wet buried metals.

Image pictured is the Appin Sewerage Treatment Plant, NSW. Fabricated and installed by ASSDA member and Accredited Fabricator Roladuct Spiral Tubing Pty Ltd using 316 grade stainless steel. Image courtesy of Roladuct Spiral Tubing Pty Ltd.

This technical article is featured in Australian Stainless magazine, issue 51.

Posted 3 May 2012

As bottled water continues to gain popularity in Australia, maintaining the quality and purity of the water extracted from natural springs is paramount.

This is just one example within the food and beverage sector where hygiene is vitally important and, therefore, stainless steel continues to be the material of choice for processing and storage facilities.

In 2011, Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) commissioned ‘Project Flint’ to upgrade three spring water storage tanks for their Moorabbin plant in Victoria plus an additional two tanks for their Thebarton plant in South Australia.

GEA Process Engineering Australia engaged Byford Equipment on behalf of CCA to fabricate and install the five storage tanks.

GEA Engineering’s General Manager Operations, Andrew Fillery, said stainless steel was an important specification as the tanks had to cope with the chemical and thermal rigours of cleaning processes.

“Stainless steel was chosen for process and hygienic reasons, and the vessels needed to withstand the process and cleaning conditions where mild caustic and acid CIP solutions were used,” said Fillery.

Strength and durability was key for the 200,000L capacity silos, which measured 4.7m in diameter by 14.5m high for the Moorabbin site and 5.5m in diameter by 10m high for the Thebarton plant.

ASSDA Sponsor Midway Metals supplied 27 tonnes of grade 304 stainless steel coil with a 2B finish in 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm and 4mm thicknesses. The coil widths were 1219mm and 1500mm.

With a team of five fabricators on the project, the tanks were welded together using a semi-automatic MIG welding process. The welds were then pickled to restore the chromium oxide layer and abstain from rusting.

Byford Equipment’s Project Manager Geoff Smallwood said coordinating the delivery of the tanks was a challenge, given the logistics of travelling through three states by road.

The delivery of the vessels was critical added Fillery, as there were specific installation windows to work within.

The storage tanks were delivered from Byford’s workshop in New South Wales to Moorabbin in March 2011. The two remaining tanks were delivered to Thebarton a month later for installation. It took one day and one crane to install each tank on site.

The connecting pipework was positioned on site, which was grade 304 polished tube in diameters ranging from 38mm to 150mm and purge welded prior to installation.

Images courtesy of Byford Equipment.

This article is featured in Australian Stainless magazine, issue 51.

Where Strength Meets Style

Posted 9 December 2011

Innovation in zoo enclosure design is a key feature of the recently completed $7.5 million makeover of the Chimpanzee Sanctuary at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.

The project brief was to create a chimpanzee habitat akin to their native home that would encourage social interaction and allow the zoo’s primate keepers to manage animal husbandry and the group’s changing demographic. The enclosure’s transparency and the ability to withstand the chimpanzee’s remarkable strength and intelligence were essential.

ASSDA member Ronstan Tensile Architecture was contracted by the builder, the Lipman Group, to be the specialist contractor for the technical design and installation of a mesh enclosure and non-climbable wall. Ronstan’s unique capability in tensile architecture and their technical expertise were a natural fit for this challenging project designed by Jackson Teece Architects.

The Sanctuary features the mesh separation paddock (similar to an aviary), at one end of the main exhibit. A non-climbable wall with a removable curtain, allows both spaces to function as one large paddock. This enables introductions of new chimpanzees into the compound and helps manage the apes’ complex behaviour patterns.

Ronstan Tensile Architecture’s General Manager, Rowan Murray, said the non-climbable wall structure was one of the most the challenging design aspects.

“The architect’s greatest challenge was to separate the chimpanzees physically, but still have them all in view in the paddock. We had to build a wall that was transparent, had openings of no more than 5mm to avoid chimpanzees putting their fingers in and climbing, and could withstand the strength of chimpanzees.” Mr Murray said.

The structural complexity of the non-climbable wall required 3D modelling to analyse design configurations and ensure structural integrity. Test panels of the non-climbable wall were fabricated and assessed in the chimpanzees’ temporary enclosure to determine which would offer the safest containment of the site and minimise visibility.

Mr Murray said the primary structure for the wall consists of a Ronstan supplied tensile cable net that supports semi-transparent perforated stainless steel panels.

“Most materials can be damaged, but the durability of stainless steel panels of certain perforation proved to be the right solution and important in the development of the overall design,” he said.

“The non-climbable wall had been designed with wall panels clamped directly to the enclosure mesh face. In a collaborative effort, we changed this to an independent cable net structure to remove the risk of having the final wall shape differ from that modelled, and in doing so, avoided the risk of panel geometry differing from the complex 10 degree incline necessary for non-climbability. This also ensured uniform set out and fixing methods, more consistent panel shapes and allowed the panel geometry to drive the wall structure rather than this being determined by other elements.”

ASSDA member, Locker Group, supplied the grade 304 stainless steel panels, which were perforated to 50%. A black painted finish was applied before installation.

With stringent performance characteristics to adhere to, including long-term corrosion resistance and aesthetics, Carl Stahl X-Tend stainless steel mesh was specified for the separation enclosure and the removable curtain within the non-climbable wall. The stainless steel mesh was blackened using an electrolytic process to increase transparency of the enclosure.

Trevor Williams, Lead Consultant of Jackson Teece and Project Architect for the development, said materials selection was critical in delivering the aesthetic appeal and longevity of the enclosure.

“We spoke with Ronstan Tensile Architecture for technical design advice in the early stages of the project. There were various other types of meshes that were a possibility but, being a dynamic structure, alternate materials were far too rigid and not as flexible as the Carl Stahl X-Tend stainless steel mesh. I don’t think we could have achieved this outcome with any other mesh,” Mr Williams said.

“The stainless steel will have a longer life in the aggressive south-facing coastal environment. The blackened mesh has a fantastic form and from an architectural point of view, has achieved an organic appearance.”

Ronstan Tensile Architecture’s contribution to the project, including the tensile mesh enclosure and non-climbable wall, cost about $1.2 million and took 16 weeks to construct.

Mr Murray said the stainless steel demonstrates a great mix of strength and transparency, and the end tensile result is very forgiving.

“Achieving the architectural intent involved complex modelling and finite analysis of the mesh form to ensure the surrounding structures could be designed to support the enclosure loads. Ronstan is absolutely rapt with the state-of-the-art structure,” he said.

The paddock was completely re-landscaped and the impressive exhibit also now features several climbing platforms at varying heights of up to 12 metres, and a 180 kilogram hammock for the chimpanzees to enjoy.

The 17 lucky Taronga Zoo chimpanzees moved in to their renovated home in late September 2011.


›    Mesh enclosure 770m² of 3mm Ø x 60mm blackened stainless steel, grade 316 Carl Stahl X-Tend mesh.
›    Non-climbable wall facade 140m² of grade 304 stainless steel perforated to 50%, with a black painted finish.
›    Cables 1x19 construction 8mm, 12mm and 22mm diameter, grade 316 stainless steel cables. The stainless steel cable end fittings and  components were polished and passivated prior to installation.

Images courtesy of Ronstan Tensile Architecture.

This article features in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 50, Summer 2011/12.

Posted 9 December 2011

Fabricating equipment for the chemical sector requires solid high quality materials and superior workmanship. In April 2011, ASSDA member and Accredited Fabricator U-Neek Bending Co Pty Ltd put the finishing touches on a radiant helical coil at their factory in Dandenong, Victoria.


The coil, designed as a heater for Titanium Tetrachloride (TiCl4) production, is 11.4 metres long with a diameter of 3.05 metres and required more than 7 tonnes of high grade Inconel Alloy.

U-Neek’s Business Development Manager, John Lovell, said the client chose to have this material shipped from America.
“At around US$1000 a metre, Inconel Alloy is a very expensive option but it has great heat transfer properties and is completely non-corrosive,” Mr Lovell said.

The Western Australian client, who declined to be named, were looking for a fabricator that, in addition to having a proven record in metal bending, could work to their particular requirements for this critical process componet.

“U-Neek weren’t just competitive in pricing,” said Greg, a project engineer with the client. “They succeeded with all the trial projects we sent them.”

“To ensure total quality control, we provided a comprehensive report that detailed every step of the process, including the names of every person who worked on the individual stages,” Mr Lovell said.

U-Neek Engineer Dale Theobold said  the coil was manufactured to exacting tolerances using a range of Inconel Alloy materials.
“We used 150NB Schedule 40 seamless 600 for the pipes and flanges, 366-04 WPNCI-S for the elbows, B168-08 for the plate and 253MA for the high temperature pieces,” he said.

Once completed, the coil then had to undergo a rigorous series of tests. The butt welds were verified with full radiography, the attachment welds were submitted to liquid penetrant inspection (LPI), and a full hydro exam was done on the coil itself.

“The coil was filled with distilled water to test its heating capabilities. Then the coil was pressurised with nitrogen, to a dew point of -12°, to remove all traces of water and moisture prior to transporting,” Mr Lovell said.

The transport frame and mounting jigs were manufactured from mild steel. To ensure no cross contamination, Inconel strips were fitted to the mounting points. The coil was lifted onto the back of a semi-trailer for final transportation to Perth, using U-Neek’s 16 tonne travelling overhead cranes.

Images courtesy of U-Neek Bending Co Pty Ltd.

This article features in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 50, Summer 2011/12.

Posted 9 December 2011

The greatest challenge we face is the control of our own success. With 7 billion people on earth, all with an insatiable appetite for a high standard of living, the newest dimension of materials competition is sustainability.

Sustainability is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (UN World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987). In real terms, that means making choices that do minimum damage to our environment, but support a high level of human development.

The built environment is an excellent place to start. Buildings last for a long time, locking up the energy used in making their materials, requiring maintenance and consuming the energy used for heating and air-conditioning. They consume a large proportion of our resources. The choice of materials affects all 3 aspects of consumption, and, a number of building evaluation systems have been created around the world to assist in rating buildings for sustainability. Materials are scored for their energy content reuse during major refurbishment, waste management, recycled content and contribution to the overall design and running costs.

The Green Building Council of Australia rates green buildings for sustainability. The pace of registration and certification is increasing. Of the 368 certified projects, 96 were certified in the last 12 months. The push towards sustainable development in the building sector is strong and accelerating. City of Melbourne’s Council House 2 (CH2) is Australia’s first Green Star rated building to be awarded 6 Stars, which carries an international leadership status. Stainless steel was used to support screening walls of living green plants that shade the building and, required no maintenance or painting, working with the environment to keep good working conditions. Such membranes, containing plants or actively or passively screening the sun, allow the use of a smaller capacity air-conditioning plant, with lower capital costs and ongoing running costs and energy demand.

The only Gold LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified meeting venue in the world is the Pittsburgh Convention Centre in the United States. Its grade 316 stainless steel roof is used to harvest rainwater, reducing water demand on th

e city system - another example of the special properties of stainless steel.

Stainless steel roofing and rainwater goods give extremely low levels of run-off. See Table 1. But this is not the only reason to use stainless steel in the built environment. It contributes to sustainability because of its long service life, excellent corrosion resistance, clean and unchanging appearance and its exceptional hygiene characteristics. Stainless steel is reusable, entirely recyclable, and probably the most recycled product in the world. On top of that, it needs very little cleaning or short or long term maintenance, and makes no contribution to indoor pollution as materials emitting volatile organic compounds (VOCs) do.

There is considerable history and experience of stainless steel service life in the built environment. The Chrysler Building (1930) and Empire State Building (1931) in New York demonstrate the material’s durability, excellent appearance and resistance to corrosion. This extraordinary functionality has been played out many times with a number of examples here in Australia, including the Fujitsu Building in Brisbane, which is clad with 445M2 ferritic stainless steel. Located in a marine industrial environment, this building looks as good as it did on completion in 2002. The long life of stainless steel in these atmospheric applications shows its very high corrosion resistance. The corrosion rate of grade 316 for instance in most atmospheres is is more than 5000 times slower than the rate of carbon steel. See Figure 1 (below).

There is a considerable industry devoted to the collection and recycling of stainless steel products at the end of their life and, scrap is the standard feedstock for making stainless steel. In any stainless steel object, there is an average of 60% recycled content. New production would virtually all be made from recycled stainless steel if it were available, but the growth in the use of stainless steel and its long life in service limit the supply. Table 2 compares the recycled content and end of life capture rate of the industrial metals, and demonstrates that stainless steel is the most recycled industrial metal.

Sustainability is about much more than recycling. The energy used to make the material has a direct impact on sustainability, and all metals are energy intensive. Energy is a scarce resource, generates greenhouse gases and creates specific demands on land use likely to impact on future generations. Longevity and extraordinary recyclability will not be helpful if stainless steels’ energy consumption is much higher than other materials. Figure 2 describes the embodied energy in terms of CO2 equivalent for some of the industrial metals, and shows that stainless has a comparatively high level of embodied energy. In kilogram of CO2  per kilogram of metal, the austenitic grades are over double the footprint of carbon steel, although the ferritic grades are a little less. The footprint of stainless steel is caused by the production of alloying elements nickel and chromium, which are needed to give stainless steel its special properties, including extremely long life. Even so, efforts are ongoing in the stainless steel industry to reduce the energy content.

But in the real world, kilogram CO2  per kilogram metal comparisons are misleading. Take a typical application; a box gutter on a building. The metals have different strength, so are used with different thickness. Stainless steel gives a relatively light weight gutter (see Table 3), and hence the lowest footprint as installed. Coupled with its extended durability without maintenance, stainless comes out as the most sustainable option. Painted galvanised or Zincalume® coated carbon steel has not been included in the table as the calculation of the contributions of the components were too complex, but these materials are highly unlikely to beat the sustainability of stainless steel, even as-installed, and they have a much shorter life.

In summary, stainless steel has excellent recyclability, energy content as-installed (at least as good as other metals), extraordinary longevity and next to no need for maintenance, ever. Add to that the benefits of their special properties, which allow for the construction and operation of buildings at a lower cost. The contribution of stainless steel to sustainability is obvious and considerable.

This article was prepared by ASSDA Technical Committee member, Alex Gouch from Austral Wright Metals.

This technical article is featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 50, Summer 2011/12.

Posted 9 December 2011

Stainless steel’s star has ascended in the public’s conscience as thousands of Westfield Sydney shoppers enjoy the world-class design and materials on show in its newest retail development.

Covering 103,000m2, the $1.2 billion Westfield Sydney development is bound by the Pitt Street Mall and Market and Castlereagh Streets in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. It integrates Westfield Centrepoint, the Centrepoint Convention Centre, Imperial Arcade and Skygarden, plus a new office tower at 85 Castlereagh Street and an extensively modified and refurbished tower at 100 Market Street.

While the size of the project is enormous, it’s the design that’s turning heads. With a nod to lauded international developments in Paris and Frankfurt, the architects of Westfield Sydney have created a stunning environment that makes extensive use of mirror and hairline finished stainless steel in the interior spaces.

Stainless steel was chosen by Westfield’s architects to create a very upmarket, stylish environment for shoppers. In addition to meeting the design intent, stainless steel also offers durability and ease-of-use during construction.

ASSDA Accredited Townsend Group was chosen to design, fabricate and install stainless steel elements throughout the complex, a task it was confident to undertake due to its experience delivering exceptional quality products to exacting clients, such as Apple Inc.

Townsend was awarded the following elements using only 316 grade stainless steel:

›    8,500m2 of mirror-finished stainless steel troughs and particle board infills in the feature ceilings on levels 3 and 4
›    Composite stainless steel panel cladding of the escalators on all levels
›    Black glass and mirror-finished stainless steel on the escalator soffits in void 4
›    Hairline-finished stainless steel composite panel cladding in voids 1 to 10
›    Mirror-finished stainless steel cladding of the elliptical column in void 1 from levels 1 to 5.

The project’s innovative design and engineering required the use of Townsend’s Vee-Cutter, the only one of its type in Australia, to create a very tight radii on the corners on some of the architectural elements. No additional services or treatments were required before or after installation as the stainless steel was procured with a protective film that remained on the product through the manufacturing process until the installation was complete.

Townsend Managing Director and CEO Russ Hill stated that the company was excited when selected for this prestigious development. The complexity of the project presented many challenges which Townsend was able to meet through its skill and experience, resulting in a finish which met the brief set by Westfield and its architects.

Images courtesy of Townsend Group.

This article is featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 50, Summer 2011/12.

Synergy of Lightness and Strength

Posted 9 December 2011

Artist Wendy Mills’ interest in an ancient Sumerian myth helped bring her vision to reality for a stainless steel sculpture at Willoughby City Council’s new cultural centre.

Described as the cultural home of the North Shore, The Concourse (Chatswood, NSW) incorporates a concert hall, theatre, library, outdoor urban screen, restaurants and retail stores.

Council worked through Pamille Berg Consulting to commission Ms Mills to create an artwork for the library’s water court, which is located below ground level. The 6.1m sculpture, fabricated by ASSDA Accredited Fabrications Australia, is visible from above as well as from within the library.

Fabrications Australia fabricated the sculpture from 50mm x 50mm x 3mm square hollow sections of grade 316 stainless steel and applied a mirror polish. The joins were TIG welded and carefully ground smooth to ensure a high quality finish.

The sculpture is mounted on a ‘blade’ made from 12mm grade 316 plate that was painted to reduce visibility within the water, so the sculpture appears to float on the surface. As the support structure is bolted into the floor immediately above a carpark, extensive water proofing was required.

Ms Mills said the sculpture was more than 2 years in the making from when it was first conceived. Fabrications Australia and Consulting Engineer, Bernie Davis from Opus, worked together with her design to overcome challenges such as the structural support and ensure a proper balance of geometry, constructability and aesthetics.

Mr Davis said it was the team focus on this total balance that ensured a happy client.

Fabrications Australia Director Shannon Molenaar said the project was a true collaboration that evolved over time. Key issues for the fabrication team were structural integrity and long-term durability.

Ms Mills said she chose to work with stainless steel because no coatings were required. She wanted a mirror finish as it requires very little maintenance and it reflects the environment, making the artwork seem lighter.

For this piece, she envisaged a form of transport halfway between a plane and a boat that would sit lightly on the surface of the water as if it is about to take off, yet from above it would appear like a winged insect that has just landed. Her goal was to create a ‘stillness’ – a space for reflection, transition and transformation.

She said her initial concepts of a sky boat and transition tied in beautifully with the Sumerian myth of Inanna and the location within the library water court in the cultural precinct. According to the myth, Inanna (the queen of heaven) travels in her sky-boat to visit Enki (the lord of wisdom) who lives in a watery abyss and gives Inanna divine decrees to transform her city into a new centre of civilisation and culture.

The end result of this successful collaboration is an artwork that purveys a sense of peacefulness while showcasing the versatility and durability of stainless steel in a water environment.

Images courtesy of Wendy Mills.

This article is featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 50, Summer 2011/12.

Posted 9 December 2011

A worrying trend among Australia's major resource companies is the increasing amount of engineering, detailing and fabrication work being sent offshore - a move that has had significant impact on local fabrication. But there are some positive signs in the food and beverage sector that local fabricators are more than capable of meeting design and fabrication expectations.

When ASSDA member and Accredited Fabricator, A&G Engineering, put in a bid to build 10 x 100 hectolitre beer fermenters for Casella Estate - a company best known for their Yellowtail wine label - they had to compete against companies as far away as Europe for the coveted project.

But A&G had a few advantages over the offshore companies: they had worked with Casella before, fabricating 88 x 1.1 million litre wine tanks for the company’s tank farm in Yenda, NSW; they have supplied stainless steel tanks to Australia’s leading breweries, wineries and beverage companies; and they are one of the largest users of stainless steel in Australia.

A&G’s win is an important victory for the Australian industry as a whole and another milestone for A&G Engineering, which was founded in 1963.

The five-month Casella Brewery project, completed in August 2011, saw 25 of A&G’s 200 staff use 65 tonnes of 304 grade stainless steel (including 2-4mm coil and 8mm plate) to build the 10 vessels.

A&G’s Design Manager Heath Woodland said the tanks were designed to AS1210-2010 pressure vessel standards, in order to withstand a pressure rating of 115kPa.

The stainless was welded with A&G’s semi-automated welding process and the internal welds were polished to achieve a 0.6Ra surface finish, to meet beverage industry standards of a food grade finish.

A&G built the vessels at their Griffith and Irymple plants, before transporting them to Yenda. With the beer fermenters now in place, it is hoped the Casella Brewery will be operational by the end of 2011.

Images courtesy of A&G Engineering.

This article is featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 50, Summer 2011/12.


AS 54 - Spring 2014

Download AS54 (pdf - 2.4MB)

AS 52 - Summer 2012/13

Download AS52 (pdf - 3.3MB)

AS 53 - Autumn 2013

Download AS53 (pdf - 1.9MB)

AS 50 - Summer 2011/12

Download AS50 (pdf - 1.7MB)

AS 51 - Autumn 2012

Download AS51 (pdf - 2MB)
AS48 Cover

AS 48 - Autumn 2011

Download AS48 (pdf - 1.5MB)

AS 49 - Australian Stainless
Reference Manual 2012

Download Product Order Form

AS 46 - Winter 2009

Download AS46 (pdf - 2.MB)

AS 47 - Spring 2010

Download AS47 (pdf - 1.6MB)

AS 44 - Spring 2008

Download AS44 (pdf - 1.6MB)

AS 45 - Summer 2009

Download AS45 (pdf - 2.4MB)

AS 41 - Spring 2007

Download AS41 (pdf - 1.9MB)

AS 42 - Summer 2008

Download AS42 (pdf - 1.6MB)

AS 39 - Autumn 2007

Download AS39 (pdf - 520k)

AS 40 - Winter 2007

Download AS40 (pdf - 1.7MB)


AS 37 - Spring 2006

Download AS37 (pdf - 476k)

AS38 - Summer 2006

Download AS38 (pdf - 492k)

Australian Stainless magazine Issue #35 - Autumn 2006


AS 35 - Autumn 2006

Download AS35 (pdf - 452k)

Australian Stainless magazine - Winter 2006


AS36 - Winter 2006

Download AS36 (pdf - 464k)

Australian Stainless magazine #34 Summer 2005


AS 34 - Summer 2005

Download AS34 (pdf - 540k)

AS33 Spring 2005 cover


AS 33 - Winter 2005

Download AS33 (pdf - 500k)

AS32 cover.jpg


AS 32 - Winter 2005

Download AS32 (pdf - 560k)

AS31 cover.jpg


AS 31 - March 2005
Australian Stainless
Reference Manual 2005

AS30 cover.jpg


AS 30 - January 2005

Download AS30 (pdf - 584k)

AS29 cover.jpg


AS 29 - September 2004

Download AS29 (pdf - 492k)

AS28 cover.jpg


AS 28 - May 2004

Download AS28 (pdf - 544k)

AS27 cover.jpg


AS 27 - February 2004

Download AS27 (pdf - 554k)



Communications Manager

Level 4, 243 Edward Street
Brisbane QLD 4000, Australia

t (+61) 07 3220 0722
f (+61) 07 3220 0733
e This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Posted 25th September 2009



This material on this site is sourced from a variety of contributors and may not reflect the views of ASSDA. The views and opinions of contributors may be presented in order to facilitate open, informed debate on issues of interest. ASSDA does not warrant and makes no representations about the accuracy or suitability of the content of this site for any purpose. Competent advice should be sought before acting on any of the material on this site. ASSDA will not be liable for any claim or damages of any nature resulting from use or reliance of the material on this site.

Without limiting the above, ASSDA will not accept liability for any special, indirect or consequential damage, whether in contract, negligence or other cause of action arising out of or in connection with the material on this site.


The material on this site includes writings and images supplied by members of ASSDA and other contributors and is protected by the copyright laws of Australia. You may retrieve material marcked copyright 2009 ASSDA (or anything of a like nature). You may save a copy for your own personal use or in order to inform authorised and potential users about ASSDA’s material but you must include the applicable copyright notice in any copy that you make. You may not make any change for the above use and any commercial exploitation is expressly prohibited. You must not modify material which you retrieve without the express permission of ASSDA. You must seek permission from the copyright holder for use of other material presented on this site which is not marked in the manner set out above.

Posted 25th September 2009


Australian Stainless is a leading industry magazine devoted to showcasing the unique diversity and durability of stainless steel. Since its inception in 1993, Australian Stainless has assisted and encouraged specifiers and end users of stainless steel, with a focus on local fabrication.

For 17 years, Australian Stainless has been enjoyed by more than 8,000 readers across the country. In October 2009, Australian Stainless Online was launched to provide a readily available live news feed to a wider audience around the world. Australian Stainless is published by the Australian Stainless Steel Development Association (ASSDA), a non-profit industry group that aims to increase the consumption of stainless steel in Australia, through publication, education, accreditation and more.

To find out more about ASSDA and its services CLICK HERE or call (+61) 07 3220 0722.

Posted 17 May 1999

If a job requires greater corrosion resistance than grade 304 can provide, grade 316 is the 'next step up'. Grade 316 has virtually the same mechanical, physical and fabrication characteristics as 304 with better corrosion resistance, particularly to pitting corrosion in chloride environments.

Grade 316 (U NS S31600) is the second most popular grade accounting for about 20% of all stainless steel produced.

This article follows on from "304 -the place to start" in Issue 10 which is also available on ASSDA's website at www.assda.asn.au

Table 1 compares three related grades - 316, 316L and 31 6H.

Grade 316L is a low carbon 316 often used to avoid possible sensitisation corrosion in welded components.

Grade 316H has a higher carbon content than 316L, which increases the strength (particularly at temperatures above about 500°C), but should not be used for applications where sensitisation corrosion could be expected.

Both 316L and 316H are available in plate and pipe, but 316H is less readily available ex-stock. 316L and 316H are sometimes stocked as standard 316 (test certificates will confirm compliance with the 'L' or 'H' specification).

Grade 316 has excellent corrosion resistance in a wide range of media. Its main advantage over grade 304 is its increased ability to resist pitting and crevice corrosion in warm chloride environments. It resists common rusting in virtually all architectural applications, and is often chosen for more aggressive environments such as seafront buildings and fittings on wharves and piers. It is also resistant to most food processing environments, can be readily cleaned, and resists organic chemicals, dye stuffs and a wide variety of inorganic chemicals.

In hot chloride environments, grade 316 is subject to pitting and crevice corrosion and to stress corrosion cracking when subjected to tensile stresses beyond about 50°C. In these severe environments duplex grades such as 2205 (UNS S31803) or higher alloy austenitic grades including 6% molybdenum (UNS S31254) grades are more appropriate choices.

The corrosion resistances of the high and low carbon versions of 316 (316L and 316H) are the same as standard 316.

Like grade 304, 316 has good oxidation resistance in intermittent service to 870°C and in continuous service to 925°C. Continuous use of 316 in the 425-860°C range is not recommended if subsequent exposure to room temperature aqueous environments is anticipated, but it often performs well in temperatures fluctuating above and below this range.

Grade 316L is more resistant to carbide precipitation than standard 316 and 316H and can be used in the above temperature range. However, where high temperature strength is important, higher carbon values are required. For example, AS 1210 Pressure Vessels Code limits the
operating temperature of 316L to 450°C and restricts the use of 316 to carbon values of 0.04% or higher for temperatures above 550°C. 316H or the titanium-containing version 316Ti can be specified for higher temperature applications.

316 has excellent toughness down to temperatures of liquefied gases and has application at these temperatures, although lower cost grades such as 304 are more usually selected for cryogenic vessels.

Like other austenitic grades, 316 in the annealed condition is virtually nonmagnetic (ie. very low magnetic permeability). While 304 can become significantly attracted to a magnet after being cold worked, grade 316 is almost always virtually totally non-responsive. This may be a reason for selecting grade 316 in some applications.

Annealing (also referred to as solution treating) is the main heat treatment carried out on grade 316. This is done by heating to 1,010-1,120°C and rapidly cooling - usually by water quenching.

316 can be deep drawn without intermediate heat softening enabling it to be used in the manufacture of drawn stainless parts, such as sinks and saucepans. However, for normal domestic articles the extra corrosion resistance of grade 316 is not necessary. 316 is readily brake or roll formed into a variety of other parts for application in the industrial and architectural fields.

Grade 316 has outstanding weldability and all standards welding techniques can be used. Although post-weld annealing is often not required to restore 316's corrosion resistance (making it suitable for heavy gauge fabrication) appropriate post-weld clean-up is recommended.

Machinability of 316 is lower than most carbon steels. The standard austenitic grades like 316 can be readily machined if slower speeds and heavy feeds are used, tools are rigid and sharp, and cutting fluids are involved. An 'improved machinability' version of 316 also exists.

The guidelines in Table 4 are approximate 'first cost' comparisons for sheet material in a standard mill finish suitable for construction projects. The appeal of stainless over its first cost competitors dramatically increases
when lifecycle costs are considered.

Grade 31 6 is available in virtually all stainless product forms including coil, sheet, plate, strip, tube, pipe, fittings, bars, angles, wire, fasteners and castings. 316L is also widely available, particularly in heavier products such as plate, pipe and bar. Most stainless steel surface finishes, from standard to special finishes, are available.

Typical applications for 316 include boat fittings and structural members; architectural components particularly in marine, polluted or industrial
environments; food and beverage processing equipment; hot water systems; and plant for chemical, petrochemical, mineral processing, photographic and other industries.

Although 316 is often described as the 'marine grade', it is also seen as the first step up from the basic 304 grade.

Alternative grades to 316 should be considered in certain environments and applications including:

• strong reducing acids (alternatives might be 904L, 2205 or a super duplex grade),
• environments with temperatures above 50-60°C and with chlorides present (choose grades resistant to stress corrosion cracking and higher pitting resistance such as 2205 or a super duplex or super austenitic), and
• applications requiring heavy section welding (316L), substantial machining (an improved machinability version of 316), high strength or hardness (perhaps a martensitic or precipitation hardening grade).


This technical article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 13, May 1999.

Posted 17 May 1999

The devastation of the 1989 Newcastle earthquake resulted in a revision of standards specifying building materials and products to be used in differing environments.

One of the products that came under close scrutiny was wall ties (also known as brick ties).

Assessment of the damage after the earthquake found that many walls had 'peeled away' from building structures due to deteriorated wall ties.

A wall tie connects masonry to the structural backing which supports the wall. The most common wall ties are manufactured out of galvanised steel.

Australian Standard AS 3700 - 1998 revised the conditions under which wall ties are used and made recommendations about the types of material that should be used in different environments.

The Standard specifies that 316 or 316L stainless steel wall ties should be used in 'R4' category environments. These are severe marine environments, usually up to 1 00 metres from a nonsurf coast or one kilometre from a surf coast, where the highest airborne salinity level at the exterior of the masonry is 300 g/m2/day.

In such environments the chlorides in the air make it highly corrosive and not suitable for wall ties manufactured from materials that are susceptible to corrosion.

However this requirement is the subject of debate, with some specialists suggesting that corrosive environments stretch well beyond the distances specified in the Standard.

The use of stainless steel wall ties as suggested in the Standard will increase the safety and durability of buildings in corrosive environments for a very small increase in the overall cost. This again leads to the debate about what constitutes a corrosive environment, and whether the Standard should be more conservative.

The revised Standard has been incorporated into the Building Code of Australia and is mandatory for many provisions in the Code. The Australian Building Codes Board anticipates AS3700 - 1998 will become mandatory for the Housing Provisions in January 2000.

Thus, opportunities exist for the stainless industry to be proactive in its approach to such issues, as well as to investigate the use of stainless in other building applications, where durability and strength are principal concerns.

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 13, May 1999.

Posted 1 March 1998

Stainless steels are now cheaper than ever, but there is still room to minimise costs (see Table 1), which will improve the bottom line for individual companies, projects and the industry as a whole.

Flat productsAustralia is a relatively 'small fish' in the global stainless industry and, without the benefit of local stainless steel production, loses some flexibility on product availability. Unless you're a very large consumer of stainless steel to a single specification or Standard, ordering to common specifications will reduce costs and increase availability of products.

Flat Products - Table 1Suppliers are likely to have products to common specifications. Ordering them reduces the need for slow moving stock, increases stock turns, raises the size of single orders, and can substantially reduce costs. A similar mechanism works for mill or mill indent orders.

Flat products

Until recently, stainless steel flat products manufactured to Australian Standard 1449 were the most widely available in Australia. However, since the closure of BHP Stainless in 1997, products manufactured to this Standard are no longer commonly produced. More common international specifications will need to be recognised in Australia if economies are to be achieved (see Table 2).

Fortunately, the transition may not be difficult, because AS1449 was closely aligned with the ASTM Standards from the USA, which are also similar to the Japanese JIS Standards. Steels identical to AS1449 in nomenclature, chemical composition, mechanical properties and surface finish are readily available internationally.

Today the most commonly available stainless flat product in Australia is manufactured abroad to ASTM A2401A240M Standard specification for heat resisting chromium and chromium-nickel stainless steel plate, sheet and strip for pressure vessels, which nominates ASTM A4801A480M for additional general requirements of the steel ('M' designates the metric version, which is more appropriate in Australia).

European specifications are also emerging and EN 10088 Stainless steels has the potential to become a common specification in the Australian market. EN 10088 makes use of the established German names and numbers for stainless steel grades, Many grades in EN 10088 have close equivalents in the ASTM based Standards, but the nomenclature for grades and finishes is very different and replacements should be examined carefully. For example, in AS1449, ASTM A240M and JIS G4305, grade 304 (the most common stainless) has a minimum of European specifications are also emerging and EN 10088 Stainless steels has the potential to become a common specification in the Australian market. EN 10088 makes use of the established German names and numbers for stainless steel grades. Many grades in EN 10088 have close equivalents in the ASTM based Standards, but the nomenclature for grades and finishes is very different and replacements should be examined carefully. For example, in AS1449, ASTM A240M and JIS G4305, grade 304 (the most common stainless) has a minimum of Ordering at standard width and thickness is the best way to keep steel costs down. Each mill has equipment capable of a certain maximum width and running narrower steel is less productive.

The standard width varies from mill to mill (see Table 3), with most European mills manufacturing at 1,200mm or 1,250mm wide, with a few capable of 1,500mm and, for some thicker coil products, 2,000mm. Mills in Asia tend to standardise on the imperial widths 3', 4' and 5' (914mm, 1,219mm, 1,524mm).


An understanding of commonly used specifications can lead to more efficient and cheaper practices. If questions arise, your supplier or fabricator may have information on alternative Standards that are more commonly available and more suited to your requirements.

Flat Products - Table 2


This article featured in Australian Stainless Issue 11 - March 1998. More current information can be found in ASSDA's Australian Stainless Reference Manual.

Posted 1 March 1998

Stainless steel forms a significant part of a beef abattoir, including the conveyors, fixed and elevated platforms, sterilisers, chutes, hand wash basins and, of late, water supply and wastewater piping. The stainless component may now expand even further in new abattoirs with the recent development of cast stainless steel skids and forged hooks for use on dressing conveyors.

AbattoirDressing conveyors in beef abattoirs traditionally use rollers rather than a skid system or, in some cases, extruded aluminium skids and hooks are used. Both of these systems have limited service lives due to the weight of the beasts. They also result in downtime when cleaning and, in the case of rollers, lubrication is required. Hygiene is critical throughout the trimming process, as the carcass' meat is exposed to the environment.

G & B Stainless (Crestmead, Old) and Meateng (Melbourne, Vic) recognised the need to develop a dressing conveyor system which would allow a rapid turnaround of hooks while assuring a high level of hygiene.

Using stainless steel would provide sufficient strength to hold heavy carcasses (weighing up to 1,000kg), while allowing the skids and hooks to simply pass through a washbox for sterilisation on their return to the starting point of the conveyor.

The project has evolved over six months from a prototype fabricated skid, which did not provide enough strength, to the existing cast skid and forged hook. The cast skid also incorporates a high density polyethylene insert, which is the only component to experience wear during service. This insert can be replaced at low cost when required.

The skids are cast by Austcast Stainless (Northgate, Old) using a vertical joint automoulding sand casting system. Grade AS2074 H5A (equivalent to AISI 304) stainless is used and full traceability exists for the castings, The stainless hooks are forged by John Ure (Wacol, Qld). Production costs are comparable with extruded aluminium skids, but the low rate of replacement makes the lifecycle costs very attractive.

Over 1,000 stainless steel skids and hooks have been in service at Stockyard (Grantham, Qld) for six months and, according to site engineer, Roger Tocknell, they have been performing excellently.

The new skids are not interchangeable with existing mild steel rollers, but G & B Stainless' Director, John Van Koeverden, said the company's next goal is to develop stainless rollers which can be used on existing conveyors.

This article featured in Australian Stainless Issue 11 - March 1998.

Posted 1 March 1998

Kuala Lumpur's new international airport terminal will open within a month and travellers will be sheltered by a A$17 million stainless steel roof which has largely been developed by Australian expertise and innovation.

KL airportThe roof profile of the contact piers and air bridges (60,000m2 total area) had to satisfy a number of criteria, including rainwater runoff, resistance to wind uplift, and a smooth, painted appearance. The roof area comprises a composite system with an outer metal membrane of fully-welded stainless steel. Further complicating the design, the architect (MJAC) wanted to avoid valley gutters on the roof's curves.

Around 280 tonnes of 0.4mm grade 316 stainless were used for the roof and unique, tapered sheet, roll forming technology was developed to accommodate curvatures in the roof. While rollforming is normally used on parallel edge products, Chadwick Technology (Forestville, NSW) and Horton Engineering (New Zealand) developed a rollformer which was capable of rolling roof sheet in excess of 20 metres long, with the edges tapering to a pre-determined dimension. All of the taper, shear and rollforming equipment was computer controlled to obtain correct dimensions.

Similarly, a fully automated welding system was designed to weld at 5 metres/minute (resulting in a total of 125km of welding), with the generated heat being water cooled. Fixing clips, which were welded within the seam roof, had to allow for thermal movement of up to 20mm. To provide the unwelded surface appearance, a rib cap was designed to conceal all the welds, fixings and unpainted sections.

Bill Mansell, Chadwick's Engineering Director, said MJAC specified stainless steel to provide the client with a lifetime investment in maintenance free roofing. The stainless steel sheet, which was coil coated with a dark green fluorocarbon PVf2, was supplied by Avesta Sheffield (Castle Hill, NSW) and special end fascia and architectural trims were fabricated by the Townsend Group (Mortdale, NSW).

The airport is opening in February/March this year and it will be fully operational for the Commonwealth Games in September 1998. The roof, which is a finalist in the Gold Circle Award for Innovative Roofing from the USA's National Roofing Contractors Association, is certain to give international visitors to Kuala Lumpur a strong, visual impression of Australia's design and fabrication capabilities.

This article featured in Australian Stainless Issue 11 - March 1998.

Posted 1 March 1998

A pilot magnesium processing plant is currently under production in Gladstone, using unique technology developed in Australia and incorporating a significant stainless steel component.

MagnesiumThe Australian Magnesium (AM) process (now owned by the Australian Magnesium Corporation - Brisbane, Qld) was jointly developed by Queensland Metals Corporation (QMC - Brisbane, Qld) and CSIRO to process the type of magnesite ore discovered by QMC near Rockhampton into highly pure magnesium metal.

The process incorporates a number of patented features which will be demonstrated and refined at the pilot plant in Gladstone on its completion in mid-1998. The AM process involves the use of a variety of harsh acids, requiring the specification of stainless steel grades such as 2205, 2507, 2RK65, 904L, 316L and 316H to withstand a range of corrosion environments.

Approximately $1.5 million has been spent on stainless steel components for the magnesium pilot plant, including stainless piping, pumps, compressors, tanks and shell and tube heat exchangers.

Eight fabricators supplied the components, including D & R Stainless (Salisbury, Qld), who fabricated seven stainless steel vessels using material ranging from 3mm to 13mm in thickness.

If the project progresses to full production of 90,000 tonnes of  magnesium per year, the plant will be 60 times larger than the pilot plant and the cost will expand to around $800 million. Construction is currently planned to commence towards the end of 1999 and commercial operations should begin at the end of 2002.

Magnesium is commonly used for automotive parts, such as instrument support panels, seat frames, transmission casings and rocker covers. Other common uses for magnesium are in laptop computer frames, chainsaw bodies and sporting equipment such as tennis racquets.

This article featured in Australian Stainless Issue 11, March 1998.

Posted 1 March 1998

Sydney's recently redeveloped Chifley Square now pays tribute to its namesake in a dramatic, yet personable, manner - an 8m tall stainless steel sculpture of Ben Chifley towers over the square, forming part of City of Sydney's capital works program in the lead up to the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Chifley_3Sydney artist Simeon Nelson designed 'Ben Chifley' and a glass and stainless steel wall on the site while working as part of the multi-disciplinary design team involved in the site's $3 million redevelopment. Hassell architects (Sydney) were given open guidelines for the design of the site, but two of the objectives were to see Chifley appropriate recognised and to provide a windbreak on the Hunter Street side of the square.

Nelson specified 5 tonnes of 20mm grade 316 stainless plate for two cut-out images of the former war-time treasurer and the post-war Labor prime minister. The plates are positioned in parallel and bolted to a stainless frame, allowing 1mm tolerances.

Nelson designed the sculpture in stainless steel because of its long-term durability. He also felt the material was appropriate because it is often used as an industrial product and Chifley kick-started industrial growth after the war.

The sculpture was fabricated by CBD Prestige Metal Works (Sydney) from material supplied by Sandvik Australia (Smithfield, NSW). After shotblasting by IMP (Sydney), the final surface finishing and passivating was carried out by BHM Stainless Technology Group (Keon Park, Vic) using a specialised process developed by the company for unusual projects of this nature.

Chifley_wallSimilarly impressive is the 'Lightwall, Crucimatrilux' (also fabricated by CBD), which incorporates panes of transparent glass bolted together on nine stainless frames made of 74mm x 20mm bar with a mill finish. Because of the fine tolerances required, dowel and glue were used instead of welds to hold the frames together.

The 10.8m long and 3.2m tall wall serves a structural function as an extension of the back wall of the cafe and also acts as a wind shelter. visually, it provides a contrast with cafe's wall, which is made from white coated glass.

The redevelopment of the site, which is semi-circular in shape and divided in half by Philip Street, was aimed at unifying the two spaces to reflect the original intent of the site's 1937 design. Together, the Lightwall and Chifley sculpture form part of an impressive, contemporary response to historic town planning.

This article featured in Australian Stainless Issue 11, March 1998.

Posted 17 May 1999

A stainless steel mesh sculpture created by jeweller/designer, Barbara Heath is a focal point of the Neville Bonner Building in Brisbane.

Stainless steel was chosen for the sculpture for its durability and low maintenance properties. This was important because the sculpture is mounted on the building exterior, exposed to marine weather conditions.

The 'high tech', contemporary look that was achieved with stainless also compliments the other metals used on the building.

The themes of the seven metre artwork are office networks, family links and team work. It refers to the history of the area with the design reflecting fishing nets that were used by local aboriginals.

The work features stainless steel rings intertwined into a net structure, based on a traditional chain mail construction technique used in chain jewellery making.

Because it sits in front of a window, different perspectives and understandings of the work can be gained depending on the viewing angle. It can be viewed from the interior of the building, against the surrounding landscape, or through openings in the building which frame it against the sky.

The sculpture is constructed out of grade 316 stainless steel and was fabricated by Haylock Sheet Metal. Flat links of round bar were rolled and interlinked to form the mesh structure.

It is one of four artworks that were commissioned by the Department of Public Works for the Neville Bonner building. Architects Davenport Campbell and Donovan Hill worked closely with the artists to ensure that the artworks were an integral part of the building's design, yet remained equally impressive as stand alone pieces.

Although not typical for government public works, projects of this nature will become more prevalent in the future. It is expected that the Queensland government's art policy, which states that 2% of the budget for all public buildings must be spent on public art, will encourage building designers, architects and artists to work closely on integrating artworks into the design of all public buildings.

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 13, May 1999.