The Australian construction and food processing sectors can specify stainless steel tube in large sizes with confidence in its quality and timely delivery, now that local production has commenced at a Victorian plant.
Manufacturing by an Australian firm will also make it easier for specificiers to communicate their special requirements.
Stainless Tube Mills' special purpose factory in Melbourne’s outer east is producing longitudinally welded tube in diameters up to 300mm and wall thicknesses up to 8mm – the largest seamwelded stainless steel tube available in Australia. Tube in this size range has always been imported.
The recently commissioned draw mill, designed in house by ASSDA member STM in conjunction with CSIRO, joins twelve other mills on site which produce welded tube up to 101.6mm outside diameter.
While a conventional mill uses a drive mechanism to feed the strip through the mill and produce welded tube, in the draw mill strip (1) is drawn through the mill with the forming rolls idling (2 & 3). This has the effect of producing a tube with minimal roll forming marks, as well as precise tolerances. The internal weld bead (4) is rolled to merge with the parent metal producing a smooth bore. Externally, the polished finish renders the seam all but invisible.
The smooth interior finish means tube produced on the draw mill is ideal for transfer of processing fluids, particularly food products, where the clean internal bore is mandatory.
Large diameter tube is also finding application architecturally for balustrades, barriers and structural column formers. As formers they make an attractive alternative to brick or concrete,
delivering a superlative appearance and impressive structural strength, which can be further bolstered by filling with concrete. STM used 300mm columns in T304 alloy to dramatically enhance its own office façade (left).
The draw mill has only been in operation commercially for a short time, however STM reports there has already been considerable demand. The firm's future plans include production of heavy walled large diameter sectional tubes for architectural applications.
This article featured in Australian Stainless Issue 21 - June 2002.