Life Cycle Costing and Stainless Steel

Posted 31 July 1993

Life Cycle Costing (LCC) has long been used in planning for reliability and maintenance for complex engineering systems in defence, airline, railway, offshore platform, power station, and other applications.

A basic attribute of stainless steel is the ability to provide long-term perfor-mance with a minimum of downtime and cost associated with maintenance. As a result LCC is of particular importance to the stainless industry.

Whilst the mathematics of LCC can be quite complex the International Chromium Development Association (ICDA) has developed an IBM or compati-ble PC program on floppy disk which can be easily applied to most examples.

The Australian Stainless Steel Development Association can make this program available to any interested party on request.

LCC analysis provides a more secure basis for comparing and selecting material options than the traditional method of judgements based on comparing acquisition costs alone. This particularly applies to situations where the initial cost is high and downtime for unplanned maintenance is costly.

In circumstances where stainless is being considered or introduced into new fields of applications, comparisons are often made with materials of a lower initial cost such as coated carbon steel or plastics.

Here the reasoning should progress well beyond the simple initial cost com-parison and take account of the long term cost assessments associated with mainte-nance replacement and operating stop-pages.

LCC is the tool to make this assessment and the ICDA program makes it easy.

Calculating LCC
In the LCC calculation, consideration is given only to relevant costs which are directly or indirectly affected by the material options being considered. Besides the cost of material, these include costs of installation, operation, maintenance, stop-pages, replacements and possibly the residual value at the end of the service life. The time intervals at which the various costs arise during the selected life cycle period must also be taken into account.

Before the various cost items can be put together, those that arise every year and those that occur at certain time intervals during the service life must be converted into present values.

Again the complexities of the mathematics are catered for by the PC program.

Examples are the best way of demonstrating LCC principles and application and two are offered to illustrate the point.

The first is from Swedish practice and features roofing.

The building industry is one of the most rapidly expanding markets for stainless steel and roofing is a major growth application. A method based on seam welding 0.4mrn strips of cold rolled stainless steel was invented in Sweden in the 60's and has since found favour in Europe and Japan. An LCC calculation was carried out based on these material options:

• galvanised and plastic coated carbon steel, double folded edges
• 0.4mm stainless stee I strip, seam-welded and single folded edges (type 316 for coastal areas or polluted atmospheres, otherwise type 304).

In this example the LCC period is 50 years and a real interest rate of 3% is used (comparative figures are given per sq metre):

Material Material Cost Installed Cost LCC
Carbon steel 1.1 2.1 2.1
Stainless Steel type 316 2.0 2.8 1.4
Stainless Steel type 304 1.6 2.6 1.3





The LCC result shows that stain-less steels are less costly than galvanised and plastic coated steel. Galvanised carbon steel requires replacement after about 20 years. The calculation does, however, not take into account the risk of damage to building substructures each time the covering is replaced. The stainless steel alternative is the only one which is virtually maintenance free.

The second example is a mixing tank for a water treatment plant.

The dimensions of the tank are 3 metres long, 1.5 metres wide and 1.5 metres high. The entire tank is raised off the floor by four steel channels beneath the tank; these ensure that spills do not accumulate beneath the tank.

The design brief requested evalua-ion of three materials. (i) mild steel with applied fibre-glass lining, (ii) stainless steel alternatives of Type 304 and duplex grade 2205 (UNS S31803).

As the 2205 was not readily avail-able in angle and channel products, these were substituted by type 304 for the 2205 design as these components were not to be in regular contact with the corrosive environment.

The evaluation was carried out using the LCC PC program from the International Chromium Development Association available in Australia through ASSDA.

Experience suggested that both the 304 and 2205 would probably survive without replacement for the full twenty years, whereas the mild steel was expected to last for only about eight years before replacement. In addition both the stainless steels were expected to require only minimal inspection and cleaning as regular maintenance in comparison with fairly extensive patching of the mild steel and its lining.

The "Summary of Present Value Costs" table of Figure I shows the resulting LCC analysis -the Type 304 stainless steel is lowest cost, closely followed by the 2205 and with mild steel substantially more expensive due to its higher maintenance and replacement costs.

The "Value of Lost Production" in the summary table is shown as zero -this implies all maintenance and replacement is carried out in scheduled shut downs for other plant maintenance. Shut downs causing lost production could substantially add to the Total Operating Cost of the option requiring this unscheduled maintenance.

The ICDA LCC software also gives a more detailed breakdown of the contributions to the initial costs and operating costs, and a "sensitivity analysis" on all the inputs which is shown in Figure 2. The latter gives the effect on the total LCC for each material option of an independent change (eg of 20%) in each of the inputs. This information is vital in determining which of the input items must be accurately known and which are of lesser importance. In this case the sensitivity analysis indicates that the most critical data is the time before replacement becomes necessary. The assumption was that the 304 and 2205 would both survive for the full twenty years; from the sensitivity analysis it is apparent that if the 304 fails before this time (possibly due to its lower pitting corrosion resistance compared to the 2205), the 2205 duplex stainless steel becomes by far the cheaper option. Clearly a good knowledge of the actual operating conditions to be encountered is crucial to the correct selection.


1. This article has drawn on material contained in a publication Life Cycle Costing - Evaluation of a Method of Use For Stainless Steel Applications by Sten Von Matern of Avesta AB, Sweden.

This has been made available to ASSDA through A vesta Sheffield Pty Ltd. This contribution is gratefully acknowledged.

2. The computer diskette "Life Cycle Costing" was developed by and supplied to ASSDA by the International Chromium Development Association.

This article featured in Australian Stainless Magazine - Issue 1, July 1993.

Subwharfyen Steels Your Imagination

A childhood spent yacht racing was Newcastle artist Braddon Snape’s inspiration for his intriguing new piece entitled The SubWharfyen at Darling Harbour.

“I was always surrounded by beautifully machined or crafted stainless steel rigging and equipment,” he said. So when Sydney Wharf commissioned Mr Snape to create a large-scale work depicting the relationship between people and the sea, stainless steel seemed like a natural choice.

Mr Snape’s experience in working with hardy materials and a highly evolved visual language proved a winning combination. The finished product is a great success as a premium contemporary development for the area.

Sydney Wharf recognised the potential for stainless steel to meet the requirements of the project for both aesthetics and durability.

“The use of stainless steel relates to its surroundings on both a conceptual and material level,” Sydney Wharf’s Shaun Farren said. “It has a connection with the maritime context and is durable in a marine environment.”

ASSDA Accredited Fabricator Marko Stainless provided their fabrication services for the project, using 450 kilograms of laser cut 3mm sheet in grade 316 stainless steel to produce The SubWharfyen from a one-in-twenty wooden model. Three panels comprise the body, which were rolled to form the curved sides. The panels were TIG welded, and blades MIG welded after initial polishing. All welds were pickled, and the entire sculpture passivated after completion.

On Mr Snape’s specification, a minimum 320 grit finish was used for its satin-like quality. “The finish allows the sculpture to respond to the light and colour of its surrounding environment without being consumed by busy reflections,” Mr Snape said.

Mr Snape describes the sculpture as “a synthesis of my aesthetic, poetic, intellectual and practical response to the particular site and the surrounding locale”.

This articled featured in Australian Stainless Issue 44.

Changing costs of alloying elements

Sustained economic growth in China and the rest of the developing world has seen the demand for all the metals grow faster than the minerals industry can develop new mines and smelters.  The result is soaring prices for metals, and for coal and oil.

For a country like Australia - a big supplier of metals - it’s good news, and we have all enjoyed the benefits of the minerals boom. But those of us in the stainless steel industry have seen prices increase markedly, and it has been hard to cope with.  We live in interesting times.

In broad terms there are two main factors influencing the price development of stainless steel: the cost of raw material inputs and the level of demand measured against the capacity to make the steel (the capacity utilisation).

Much of the increase in stainless steel prices has come from the increase in the price of raw material inputs, and particularly nickel, which went through a peak over US$50,000/ton in May 2007.  

It’s back to around $20,000/ton now, but that’s still four times as high as it was in October 2001 – under $5,000/ton.

But it’s not just nickel.  As we saw nickel start to get over its spike, the press filled with stories of the increases our big miners were seeking for their iron ore.  And quietly, the price of chromium has soared from under $600/ton to over $6,000/ton.

Molybdenum, the element added to improve corrosion resistance above what you can get with chromium, has outdone all the rest, from $6,200/ton to a peak over $95,000/ton!  It’s lucky a mere 2 per cent of molybdenum is so effective in improving corrosion resistance.

In response, stainless steel makers and users have sought to get the best value from the alloying elements they use, by shifting between grade families and grades.

We have seen the rise of the 200 series austenitics, which use manganese instead of some or all of the nickel to get the ductile austenite structure.  They peaked at about 10 per cent of world production – but of course the increase in demand for manganese then pushed up its price, making the 200 series less attractive economically.

Duplex grades also offer a potentially cheaper alternative, most using only half the nickel of an austenitic grade with similar corrosion resistance.  A new development, LDX 2101 from Outokumpu, combines the approaches by substituting nearly all of the nickel with manganese.

Ferritic grades have a completely different crystal structure to austenitic grades because they have no nickel added.  That can make their alloying costs much lower, but the steelmaking needed to make good quality steels is more exacting, so the overall cost savings are not as dramatic.

Nevertheless, they can offer useful cost savings.  In recent years they have grown from about 20 per cent of world stainless steel production to 25 per cent or more, and the major steelmakers are predicting they will continue to grow. A recent publication by the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) details the possibilities with this family of grades.

All the talk of metals price increases makes it hard to know what relative contribution each of the elements makes to the overall cost of stainless steel. Believe it or not, many people are not even aware that all stainless steels are mostly iron, so the news about iron ore prices tends to be lost on them. What does doubling the cost of iron ore do to the cost of stainless steel? And how does that compare with the other alloying elements?  Come to that, what effect does the oil price have? It’s not so long since respected economists were predicting $200 per barrel for oil.

These graphs show the ingredient contributions for the two most common grades of stainless steel, 304 and 316.  The bars show the main alloying elements in the grades, each bar representing the average for the year, except the last bar, which is the average for the first half of 2008.

The costs are an estimate of what the steelmaker has to pay to assemble the raw materials to make stainless steel. They don’t take into account the yield achieved, or possible premiums or contract prices paid.  Nevertheless, the graphs illustrate what has happened with alloy costs.  Of course, the steelmaker then has to turn these ingredients into stainless steel, so his overall costs are much higher.  We might expect higher conversion costs for ferritics, duplex steels and the manganese austenitics over traditional stainless steels such as 304 and 316.  

It is important to recognise that raw materials costs are not the only factor in steel pricing and that many factors will influence the day to day prices offered by suppliers.  We are only looking at the costs of the main alloying elements here which is fundamental but not the whole story.

In 304 the biggest culprit for cost rises has been nickel, but in 2008 nickel cost has fallen back to the 2006 level – and chromium and iron have taken over.  Notice that the iron in stainless steel now costs more than all the alloying elements in stainless steel together did in the early 2000’s – and chromium is now costing more than nickel used to.

Astute observers will know that the price of stainless steel has actually been falling in 2008, despite the alloying costs being higher than in 2007.  The lull in the demand for stainless steel has forced the mills to reduce their prices to stimulate sales, and these are tough times for the mills.

The effect of the oil and coal price increases?  Studies suggest it takes about 12 barrels of oil to make a ton of grade 304, so the $100 rise in the price of a barrel since 2002 adds about $1,200 to the cost of a ton of 304.  To put that in perspective, the base price of stainless steel in 2002 bottomed at about that level!

So what has caused all these surges in prices, and where do we go from here – higher, stable, or a return to the earlier levels?  The cause is clear; it is economic growth in the developing world, outside the mature, stable economies that used to dominate the world economy.

This is particularly true for the BRIC group: Brazil, Russia, India and China.  These have all been growing strongly and sustainedly for a number of years, China being pre-eminent.
While their economies were still small, the net increase in demand for metals was not much affected, but their overall demand has now grown to the extent that even when their economies slow, world net demand keeps growing strongly.

The IMF continues to forecast growth rates over 10 per cent for China out to 2013.  After all, over a billion people have lived in poverty for a long time, and their government is committed to developing the country to help them out of it.  Analysts reckon that only about 15 per cent of the demand for metals in China is fuelled by demand outside China, the rest is for domestic consumption.

Stainless steel has not been singled out by these shifts in the world economy.  All the metals, except aluminium and zinc, are currently at about five times the price they were when the boom started.  So much for materials substitution as a way of getting over the price increases!  China has grown so strongly that over the current decade it will consume over half of the copper, aluminium, nickel and zinc used in the world.  Even if China does falter, the other developing countries are not far behind.

The rate of growth in demand is a real challenge for the minerals industry to keep up with it.  It’s not quite the same situation as we see in oil, but it’s not markedly different.  Does anybody think we will ever return to $30 a barrel for oil?  Unlikely, and it’s unlikely we’ll see a return to historical levels for metal prices either.

This article featured in Australian Stainless Issue 44.

Keep Contamination Out and Quality In

Posted 31 July 1993

Quality is the buzz word of the last part of the 20th Century and manufacturers ignore quality control at their peril. With proper attention to detail, stainless steel will provide satisfactory service for many years. The Chrysler building in New York has a stainless steel finish that is in excellent condition after 60 years.

Stainless steel is a quality material and for products made from it to meet the demanding quality standards required, there are some special features that those used to fabricating other materials must watch if their product is to meet their customer's expectations.

Surface contamination is one of the danger areas.

Contamination with carbon steel - embedded iron.

If stainless steel is fabricated with tools previously used for forming mild steel there is almost certain to be carbon steel pick up from these tools onto the stainless steel surface. Grinding wheels used for both carbon steel and stainless products or machining stainless steel with conventional steel cutting tools are particular dangers.

These iron particles will form a galvanic couple with the stainless steel and quickly rust. At this early stage they could be cleaned away with a mild abrasive with little or no damage to the stainless steel surface. If they are left, it could be another story!

When the carbon steel particle rusts, as it is sure to do, it will form iron oxide that will eventually turn into ferric chloride, Figure 1. There are always chloride ions available particularly in marine atmospheres. The resultant ferric chloride will rapidly attack the stainless steel and pitting corrosion will result, generally visible as rust in a pattern related to the source of contamination.

In the fabrication area mark up tables, and the platens of cutting and bending equipment should be covered with cardboard or plastic that is frequently cleaned down or replaced. Crane hooks and forklifts should be similarly protected. A protective plastic film on the surface can limit the amount of pick up that can occur during handling.

Embedded iron will not only arise from fabricating equipment. Hot rolled sheet or bar will not be treated for surface contamination when delivered. Ground finished products are safer. During the manufacture of large vessels carbon steel particles or swarf from other areas of the shop can also be transferred into the tank on workers' boots and clothing and care must be taken to avoid this.

Small particles of embedded iron can be removed by nitric acid applied either as a paste or immersion. Heavier contamination may require a nitric/hydrofluoric acid treatment. These processes are know passivation or pickling.

Other Contamination

There are other dangers during fabricating that can generate crevice corrosion conditions. Adhesive tape is the classic case. The area under the tape is low in oxygen and if moisture can seep under the tape - and it most probably can - a crevice is created where corrosion can occur.

The same sort of crevice can be formed under grease, crayon markings or residual adhesive left after the protective film is removed. Also, some films, if left exposed to the sun's UV radiation for more than a few hours harden and both the film and underlying adhesive are very difficult to remove.

In most industrial areas deposits can build up on the surface. This problem can be eliminated by washing the surface down - a good rule of thumb for architectural applications is to wash exterior stainless steel at about the same frequency as the building windows require washing. Maintenance manuals supplied with stainless steel fixtures or components should specify this cleaning requirement.

Welding also requires attention. Weld spotter and potential crevice corrosion points at the initiation and run out points of a weld run can be a problem as can contamination with grease, crayon marks or carbon steel in the weld area, including an edges, is essential.

Another area of concern is the oxide film formed during welding and the concurrent decrease in alloy content of the material under the weld. In all cases it is good practice to passivate the steel after the welding.

Written by Noel F. Herbst, Director, Nickel Development Institute of Australasia
This article featured in Australian Stainless Magazine - Issue 1, July 1993.

Posted 31st July 1993

A new product design company, KOZ Functional Art will shortly be launching a bath ware series called "Bath Art" made entirely from stainless steel

KOZ's mission is to design and manufacture distinctively Australian innovative domestic wares - "Functional Art". The name expresses our design commitment to quality and the integration of meaning, aesthetics and function. KOZ's research found that stainless steel is an ideal material for the Bath Art application because of its durability , low maintenance, design flexibility and ease of manufacture. The Bath Art range comprises four products - shower caddy, soap holder, toothbrush and tumbler stand and spare toilet roll holder.

Throughout development of the range KOZ has been determined to manufacture from stainless steel and do so in Australia in spite of much opinion from industry that this was not possible, on both counts.

A new firm with a long learning curve ahead, KOZ contacted the Australian Stainless Steel Development Association to find out how ASSDA could assist.

KOZ required manufacturers for its designs who could produce high quality wire and spinning fabrications from stainless steel in short runs in Brisbane. KOZ also required information on material supply for some illusive components.

ASSDA was able to draw on the experience and knowledge of members to provide lists of potential fabricators and an offer of introductions from which a fabricator has been found. ASSDA was also able to provide a list of materials and component suppliers both from within and without the Association where necessary. The advice was prompt and enabled KOZ to get on with the manufacturing business. Of great surprise was that the entire process could be achieved in Brisbane.

The free form design of Bath Art products requires a different aptitude than is usual for traditional wire work and the results of product development have been pleasing for KOZ and we believe for the fabricator as well. All the products have been fabricated from type 304 stainless steel wire in gauges ranging from 1mm to 6mm. Primarily joining has been achieved by resistance welding, through a small amount of TIG welding is also incorporated. Following fabrication the products are electropolished to a bright chrome-like finish.

KOZ has tested products for saleability in pilot arrangements with local retailers. This has resulted in orders beyond KOZ's current ability to produce, a situation rapidly being addressed.

For KOZ and Bath Art the future looks promising.

The Australian Stainless Steel Development Association has provided a short-cut along the learning curve for KOZ, enabling our designs to be rapidly placed in production with a minimum of expenditure and heart-ache. For many designers the gap between good design and an excellent product is wide. The service provided by ASSDA has been invaluable in helping KOZ bridge the gap.

Roger Simpson of the Design Institute of Australia stated earlier this year that only those Australian manufacturers with forward thinking that focus on the longer term, develop new strategies and high quality products who will effectively compete in the world market and succeed in the 1990's. I am happy to be working with some of them. I firmly believe that organisations like ASSDA are essential in fostering and facilitating the development of such companies within the stainless steel industry.

Written by Julia Lembryk, Designer, KOZ Functional Art.
This article featured in Australian Stainless Magazine - Issue 1, July 1993.

Stunning Little Creatures
ASSDA Accredited Member TFG Austline Pty Ltd was recently entrusted to install a new brewhouse and fermentation cellar for Little Creatures Brewery in Fremantle, Western Australia.

Over a five-month period, a team of Austline fabricators and specialised welders installed 25 vessels, five kilometres of stainless steel pipework, heat exchangers and over 3,000 fittings and valves into the
new brewhouse.

Austline Manager, Tom Moultrie, said the construction process was quite unique. “The whole project was carried out with the old brewery, bar and restaurant sandwiched between the new brewery and fermentation cellar,” he said.

Little Creatures Project Manager, Roger Bailey, said stainless steel was specified for its corrosion resistance and low maintenance requirements.

Stainless also provides micro-biological stability, ensuring a very high level of sanitation and minimal possibility for contamination, he said.

“Using stainless steel is an innovative way to achieve reusable water in the brewery,” Mr Bailey said.

Grades 304 and 316 were both specified in different applications, depending on the product being carried.

Not one hour of trading time was lost during installation. “Any cross over where we worked on the areas still being used were done at night,” Mr Moultrie said.


This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 45 Summer 2009.

Stainless Steel and Plumbing Standards

After three years of development, the first stage of a Standard covering the grade and dimensions of stainless steel pipes and tubes suitable for water supply and drainage systems has been completed. This interim Standard will be converted to a full Australian Standard in 2009.

The Standards Committee included ASSDA representative Neil McPherson of OneSteel, supported by the Technical Committee.

To avoid possible confusion and protect against corrosion problems in aggressive water supply areas, grades 316 and 316L are specified for the plumbing installation Code of Practice. All materials that satisfy the requirement for water supply and drainage systems must be included in the installation Standard AS/NZS 3500 Parts 1 & 2, which covers the material, grade and approved jointing method for piping systems.

If a material is included in Part 1 Water Supply (for drinking water), it will need to be certified against a product standard to Level 1, while Part 2 Drainage & Sanitary Plumbing requires Level 2 certification. The main difference is that Level 1 products require testing under AS4020 Material in Contact with Drinking Water to confirm lack of water contamination. Stainless steel product readily passes this testing.

All fittings, including the mechanical jointed pressfit and roll grooved types used for the plumbing services, are also tested and certified. AS3688 Metallic End Connectors defines the criteria against which these fittings are certified, including the additional pressure and fatigue testing to demonstrate strength of joint assembly.

Stainless steel using mechanical jointing systems

Mild steel, copper tube and plastic pipes have dominated building water systems for many years. However, high rise developments over recent decades have changed the building industry requirements for water supply and fire protection systems. These systems now require materials with a much higher pressure rating and corrosion resistance.

Stainless steel is recognised as a material most suited to meet these requirements. However, older on-site methods for jointing and fabrication has limited the use of stainless steel.

The approval of mechanical pressfit and roll grooved systems for all water systems has provided a major market for stainless. Stainless steel pipes and fittings have been installed as a solution to specific technical issues including a corrosive environment, high pressure requirements of the hydraulic services system, high operating temperature, or where the project owners are looking for a whole-of-life sustainable product solution.

The following projects illustrate some design and installation specifications around Australia.

Casey Aged Care Facility, Heidelberg, Victoria

108mm and 76mm tube in 316L was supplied by Blucher for a low pressure system feeding rainwater from storage tanks to pumps. Stainless steel was chosen due to concern of longevity and water contamination from other materials due to water levels in storage tanks being low or empty for long periods during dry spells. The Mapress stainless steel pressfitting system was familiar to the plumbing contractor who felt it was labour saving and easy to install. Plastic pipes were used from the roof to the plastic rainwater storage tanks.

Western Corridor Recycled Water Project, SE Queensland

The Mapress 316 pressure system was chosen for rapid, simple installation. There was a lack of pipe fitters available so socket welding was not possible and other trades made the installation. Sizes ranged from 15 to 54mm with butyl rubber sealing rings containing pressures up to 1,000kPa. The stainless steel was used for potable, treated and fire water as well as compressed air. The Mapress system supplied by Blucher has been used in all three waste water treatment plants in the Western Corridor as well as in the Gold Coast Desalination Plant.

Centre Court Business Park, North Ryde, NSW

Heating and chilled/condenser water installations used 316L schedule 5 pipe in both 50 and 100mm diameter in this 30,000m2 low rise complex. Stainless steel offered reliable protection from corrosion and the Victaulic roll grooved system offered ease of assembly.

Suncorp building, Sydney CBD

Refurbishment of the combined fire and drinking water system in a 1972 building used OneSteel Building Services supplied 316L schedule 10 pipe and fittings in 3m, pre grooved lengths for assembly in restricted duct spaces. The 43 floors plus 3 basements ensured high pressure requiring strong stainless steel which also met the drinking water AS4020 requirements.

Centrepoint Tower, Sydney CBD

Stainless steel pipe and fittings were supplied by OneSteel Building Services to replace corroded carbon steel in the 305m tall tower. Systems changed were the fire and potable water and the gas lines. 300m of 316L was supplied in 2.7m lengths which were roll grooved and assembled using Victaulic couplings in a very constricted service duct. Sizes used were 100mm and 50mm in schedule 10 except for gas lines in schedule 40.

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 45, Summer 2009.

A Step Up in Stainless Design

When a Melbourne design company decided to expand their business to a neighbouring space, a challenge was set: the adjoining office was on an upper level and a walkway was needed to connect the two.

The challenge was met by Carr Interior’s Daniel Stellini who envisioned a simple, strong and aesthetically refined stainless steel “hanging” staircase to allow for transit between the floor levels. 

“Considering the portal represents such a high traffic area, we required a material that was durable, strong and low maintenance: stainless steel met our brief on all three counts,” he said.

“It was our intent to express the raw edge detail of the 3mm stainless steel highlighting its fine yet strong characteristics,” Mr Stellini said.

ASSDA Accredited Fabricator Hi-Tech Stainless Fabrications used 620 kilograms of grade 304 stainless steel to construct the skeleton of the stairwell off-site. Due to the confined 900mm working space the pieces were assembled, TIG welded, screwed on from the inside and polished on-site.

Upon arrival at reception, the portal is seen as a crisp, polished insertion to the building’s brickwork, representing a refined sculptural element against the raw, distressed solid wall. Its fixing to only the upper level of the tenancy allows it to project and hover over the lower floor, whilst maintaining a weight capacity of 340 kilograms.

The stair’s profile has been left exposed, making it a feature of the space. Mr Stellini said challenging the conventional use of materials such as stainless steel is something he continues to do. Not a bad idea when you look at the possibilities!

This article featured in Australian Stainless Issue 44 - Spring 2008.

Showcasing Adelaide Airport Using Glass and Stainless Steel

First impressions count the most when marketing a state to the rest of the world and Adelaide Airport achieved this aim with the construction and opening of a new terminal that combines glass and stainless steel to stunning effect.

Officially opened by Prime Minister John Howard on 7 October 2005, the new terminal is one of South Australia's most significant privately-funded infrastructure projects.

With 14 glass-sided aerobridges, the new terminal will give air travellers all-weather access for the first time in Adelaide Airport's 50 year-history and provide spectacular views across the Adelaide CBD and Mt Lofty Ranges on departure and arrival.

Developers for the Adelaide Airport engaged ASSDA member, Handrail and Balustrade Fabrications to supply stainless steel glass mounted handrails, glazing channels, guardrails and trolley rails.

More than two kilometres of handrail, 1.5 kilometres of guard railing and 150 metres of glazing channel were used in the $260 million project. The stainless steel glazing channel was a key architectural feature that provided Handrail and Balustrade Fabrications with an opportunity to demonstrate their skill and expertise.

The Adelaide-based company developed a unique welded interlocking channel for the 19mm thick glass to rest in using auto-CAD programming. Due to a unique welding process the channel remains straight and distortion free during manufacture and installation.

ASSDA Major Sponsor, Sandvik Australia supplied grade 304 and 316 stainless steel pipe and plate to Handrail and Balustrade Fabrications for the project. ASSDA member, Stainless Tube Mills polished and buffed the welded stainless pipe to the architect's specification for a 320 grit finish.

Another ASSDA member, MME Surface Finishing polished the 6mm and 10mm plate. Advanced Cutting Technology cut the 2,000 brackets for the angles slots to create a specially designed wing shape effect.

Adelaide Airport Limited Managing Director, Mr Phil Baker, said “the new terminal will give an extremely positive impression of South Australia - something that we all recognise as important when positioning ourselves on the world stage.”

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 34, Summer 2005.

School Building Gets a Splash of Stainless Colour

Showcasing the use of long lasting powder coated architectural finishes

The materials used for the Assembly Hall and Music Department of the Sacred Heart School of Performing Arts have set a new benchmark of possibility for the fusion between decorative and functional design.

ASSDA member Stainless Sections provided the stainless steel cladding for the Adelaide school building, for its hard wearing and low maintenance properties.  However, keeping to the creative nature of the activities to be performed within the building, a strong focus on the aesthetics was adopted.

The face side of the stainless steel was powder coated and then polished to produce a warm and coloured background.

Roy Carter of Stainless Sections says the product gives users the best of both worlds.

“The material allows the colour to be added without compromising wearability of the metal surface,” he says.  Roy also says the material facilitates ease of cleaning and graffiti removal.

The custom produced cladding panels used a 0.6mm base material, which was rigidised to a 1.2mm finish.  The material was installed as interlocking panels, complementing the linear building components.

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 40

Safeguarding Lives in Central Queensland with Stainless

Following the tragic death of 15 people in the Palace Backpackers fire in the Central Queensland town of Childers in 2000, there were calls for tighter fire safety regulations.

Central Queensland University Rockhampton recently upgraded facilities at its Capricornia Residential College to increase safety, enhance student well being and ensure compliance with legislative requirements, building codes and duty of care.

CQU's Division of Facilities Management made alterations to Capricornia College as part of a $6.4 million project to upgrade facilities at Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg and Mackay campuses.

The CQU division worked alongside Andrews and Girle Architects, Project Services and John Foster Projects to schedule refurbishments during the College's low season to avoid major disruption to students.

ASSDA Accredited Fabricator, Adnought Sheetmetal was contracted by John Foster Projects to fabricate 20 sets of stairs in grade 316 stainless steel mirror polish finish. Previous carbon steel handrails were replaced with stainless steel.

Adnought Sheetmetal also installed 30 radiation shields from 316 stainless steel perforated sheet supplied by ASSDA member Locker Group to minimise the risk of fire spreading to the stairwells.

According to Architect Russell Girle, the specification of stainless steel for the stairwells and radiation shields was essential to ensuring the safety of residents in the potential event of a fire.

“The upgrade uses a fire engineered model that is designed to keep the building tenable for a certain length of time to get people out”.

To enhance safety further hydrant mains were boosted and tactile surfaces and disabled access were upgraded.

CQU is committed to the safety of students, staff and members of the public on its campuses and the essential services upgrades ensure a high level of protection in the event of an emergency.

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 35, Autumn 2006.

Reflecting Urban Renewal with Stainless Steel Cladding

Shining the way in major urban renewal precinct development is the Fujitsu Building, a speculative office building utilising stainless steel cladding to form a striking ‘gateway’ into Brisbane city.

Situated on Breakfast Creek Road, the five-storey Fujitsu Building is the first of three buildings in the ‘Portal Business Community’ to be developed by Ariadne Australia under a master plan by architects and planners, Cox Rayner.

‘Portal’ reflects an urban renewal of the former industrial site that has been used for petroleum storage and as a gasworks since the 1880’s including the preservation of Queensland’s oldest metal frame gasometer.

With this industrial setting in mind, the Fujitsu Building comprises economical materials and solar treatments to create intriguing textures in unconventional ways.

Whereas many speculative office buildings typically appear anonymous and soulless, the Fujitsu Building is an endeavour to demonstrate how speculative office buildings can be designed within meagre budgets to impart character reflective of place. This character was achieved by adopting an efficient floor plan and combining inexpensive materials such as stainless steel cladding.

The master plan concept turns the building through 90 degrees to north/south. This initiative optimises passive energy efficiency through screened and recessed glazing, ground level set-in, thermally insulated lightweight panel cladding and the concept of the roof as shade parasol.

Stramit Building Products selected uncoated stainless steel from their premium products range to create contrasted profilles and textures. ASSDA major sponsor, Austral Wright Metals provided technical assistance by recommending and supplying grade 445M2 stainless steel from ASSDA sponsor Nisshin Steel Company in Japan.

Grade 445M2 is a ferritic stainless steel that offers superior corrosion resistance compared to grade 316. A lower reflectivity matt finish was chosen for the site, next to one of the main roads into the Brisbane central business district. The matt finish doesn’t compromise the corrosion resistance of the grade, which is important as the Brisbane River is very close.

445M2 is suitable for roofing and cladding in marine environments and other areas where the environment is too severe for grade 304. Because it is ferritic, grade 445M2 has mechanical and physical properties more like carbon steel than the austenitic grades and is much easier to roll form into flat panels like those on the Fujitsu Building.

Thermal expansion is similar to carbon steel, so the grade can be designed with long roofing and cladding spans using well known practices.

The Fujitsu Building has received industry awards including the 2002 Queensland Metal Building Product Design award and the 2003 QMBA award for commercial projects over $10 million.

The final two buildings of the Portal Business Community will comprise a 42 apartment development with views of the Brisbane River and a four level office building modelled on the Fujitsu Building.

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 29, September 2004.

Pryde Fabrication Celebrates 10 Years in Stainless Steel

Warren Pryde has good reason to be proud. His company, Pryde Fabrication, is celebrating a ten year anniversary as a fabricator in the stainless steel industry.


Pryde Fabrication began in 1995 in Capalaba, Queensland, when Warren saw an opportunity to install stainless steel commercial kitchens for fabricators followed by a venture into architectural balustrading installation.

“I started with just myself, a ute and a toolbox. There was just one offsider which was my father-in-law.

“Six to eight weeks into it, there wasn’t enough hours in the day. I think I was working probably eighteen hours out of twenty four. Within six months I had five people working for me.”

As the company expanded, other metals were introduced, but predominantly the focus was always stainless steel. After 20 months, it was clear that a factory of his own was needed to support the slowdown that Warren says is probably still coming.

Fast forward to 2005, and Warren has established factories in both Queensland and New South Wales. Warren reflects on what would be the company’s most significant stainless steel project achievements to date.

“Definitely the RiverWalk project balustrading ... it’s a job that we’re certainly proud of internally. That’s up there as ‘challenging’ and the finish we ended up supplying out there we were more than happy with.”

The company’s sustained focus on quality has seen Pryde Fabrication develop a strong leadership role in the stainless steel industry.

When the Australian Stainless Steel Development Association launched the ASSDA Accreditation Scheme in early 2004, Pryde Fabrication was one of Australia’s first companies to be industry-recognised as an ASSDA Accredited Fabricator.

“Unfortunately there are some people playing around on the stainless side that shouldn’t be there. The market is so price driven these days, the margins are tight.

“I thought [the Scheme] was good mainly from the point of view that there was an assurance there that the client was going to get what they actually expect from the stainless steel.

“When you come up against another Accredited Fabricator you don’t mind because they are pricing the right material, the right structure. We saw this [Scheme] as a way to market ourselves as a top quality fabricator in the stainless steel industry.

Warren says that he still hasn’t got a sales representative on the road, instead attributing the company’s success to return business and offers his plans for the next ten years.

“A realistic figure is trying to double our turnover ... we’re ready for another expansion right across our market, whether it be the street furniture, commercial kitchens or the architectural side.

“We’re looking at increasing that [marketshare] without needing too many sales reps on the ground. So we’re still looking at that return business basis”.

The gains from having an ASSDA Accredited Fabricator status has resulted in benefits for his clients, his company and the whole industry.

Warren describes how the Scheme has assisted his company in marketing his business to the specifying community.

“With a lot of the government departments getting our name put in front of the right people with the order books ... they know what can happen to stainless if it’s not done the right way”.

Finally, Warren has this advice for fabricators starting out in the stainless steel industry.

“Companies who haven’t got the experience, if they get in touch with ASSDA they have the opportunity to do it the right way.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who does the stainless work out there, if it’s done properly, it’s only going to be better for the industry and better for our company - because the majority of our work is stainless.”

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 33, Spring 2005.

National Gallery of Victoria

Showcasing Art with Stainless

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) houses one of Australia’s most important visual arts collections. However, with the passage of time, the collection had outgrown its facilities.

Since the existing building opened in 1968, the collection had doubled in size and only five percent of the Gallery’s collection was on display at any one time.

As part of a major upgrade and renovations to the existing Gallery, the Victorian State Government called on construction company Baulderstone Hornibrook to lead the project.

Architect Mario Bellini, from Milan, with Australian firm, Metier 3, used stainless steel to stunning effect in a design framework that seamlessly integrates the contemporary ‘metallic’ look of stainless whilst keeping much of the original heritage feature intact.

ASSDA Major Sponsor, Sandvik supplied 10 tonnes of 304 stainless steel including solid bar, hot rolled flat and heavy angles for the project. Most of the stainless steel was surface linished by Silverstone and some was electropolished by ASSDA member MME Surface Finishing.

Applied Manufacturing fabricated glazed ramps and walkways, solid staunchens, glass panel frames and door surrounds for the courtyard in addition to balustrading, external handrails, rigging systems and feature mesh screens.

Fractal Systems supplied an imported stainless steel mesh product for the ceilings in the foyer and feature walls in the Federation Court.

This type of mesh consists of stainless steel rods in one direction and has stainless steel ropes threaded/woven in the other. Mesh was used for three reasons. Firstly it is semi-transparent, secondly it reflects light and finally it has an appealing visual texture, all dramatically influencing the ultimate sense of place.

In the feature walls, the mesh was mounted in panels framed with stainless steel angle frames bolted to the substructure. In the ceilings, the mesh was stretched over a curved sub-structure and tensioned at both ends. Other than these two main elements, stainless steel was used as floor cladding in locations where visual transition was required between two types of flooring (eg. parquetry and glass floors), as cladding to ceiling bulkheads and for struts in the glass roof trusses and cast hold-down ‘spiders’.

Zorana Zankasar from Metier 3 Architects, Victoria said that “stainless steel is almost a necessary component of the contemporary design. It is hard to imagine a major contemporary building without stainless steel”.

“I believe that because stainless steel offers trouble-free maintenance combined with the look of metallic”, said Zankasar.

The project started in January 2001 and the gallery was re-opened to the public in December 2003.

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 28, May 2004.

Mirror Mirror on the Water

Stainless Steel Fish Bar

Development of Melbourne's Docklands Precinct has inspired an exciting range of creative architecture, featuring a diverse selection of building materials.

Special finish stainless steel enhances the facades of the prestigious NewQuay follies on Victoria Harbour promenade. The Fish Bar folly, clad entirely in blue mirror stainless steel, brings life to the water's edge by combining public convenience with creativity to produce a unique example of urban art.

The design is the result of a successful collaboration between the developer MAB Corporation, SJB/FKA architects and students from the upper design pool of RMIT's School of Architecture, which ran a design competition.

The winning concept, by students Sherry-Ann Kwok and Jessica Liew, was deemed to successfully unify and integrate art and architecture into a commercial or retail environment. The underlying aim of the follies was to create sophisticated architectural forms that break up the hard edge against the water and create defined destinations as people move around NewQuay.

Blue mirror stainless steel from ASSDA member Rimex Metals was chosen as it evokes suggestions of frozen water and adds bold, bright colour to the building, which consists of an arrangement of raking, interlocking planes. The physical properties of stainless steel and its corrosion resistance in this salt-water environment make the material a logical selection.

The Colouring Process

As coloured mirror stainless steel is generally only produced in grade 304, a special mill run of 316 material was produced by Rimex UK to fulfill the architects' requirements for corrosion resistance and colour continuity.

Grade 316 stainless steel sheets were polished to a mirror finish before being coloured. In the colouring process, the stainless is immersed in a chemical bath to closely control the generation of the chromium-rich oxide film. This clear oxide film is present in all stainless steel and is the key to its excellent corrosion resistance.

By varying the film's thickness, a range of colours is produced, the same way that oil floating on the water's surface produces a rainbow effect. No dyes or pigments are used: the colour is due entirely to the physics of light distorting as it bounces off the stainless steel surface and back through the oxide layer.


Commercial builders, Icon Construction Management, were commissioned to construct the building. There were some challenging hurdles as the building is perched half on the pier and half over water supported by pylons.

Construction was performed from a barge with the use of booms and scissor lifts from the wharf.

Fabrication of the Rimex blue mirror sheet into cladding panels and their installation was performed by Alustain Fabrications, a Melbourne firm specialising in architectural stainless steel cladding.

The interlocking panels were pressed into individual pans and attached to a waterproof plywood substrate before fixing to a top hat section. The complex design called for almost every panel to be unique.

Together they form a weatherproof barrier capable of withstanding demanding coastal conditions. Unlike most faades, the stainless steel cladding was installed at the beginning of construction, enabling fixings to be concealed with only a 1-2mm margin between panels. ASSDA member, Fagersta Steels Pty Ltd, supplied the stainless steel for the project.

The Fish Bar folly contributes to the mix of open space experiences aimed at meeting the diverse needs of residents and visitors. The contemporary design and material selection demonstrate stainless steel's potential for integrating architecture and urban art.

Words: Neil Lyons, Photos: Anna Joske
This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 24, March 2003.

Mirror Mirror on the Lake

A new Stockland housing development on the Gold Coast has incorporated the use of art to promote outdoor living and community engagement. And, with a public lake the intended destination, artists Lubi Thomas and Adrian Davis knew stainless steel would best fit the bill.

The Highland Reserve development in Upper Coomera, 40 minutes south of Brisbane, boasts a mountainous backdrop and sprawling native bushland.  The additional inclusion of a lake within the development prompted Stocklands to commission a public artwork for the area.  Following a process of concept pitches from various artists, Lubi Thomas and Adrian Davis of Davis-Thomas were successful in securing the project.

“They (Stockland) have always, until now, bought artwork off the shelf,” Lubi Thomas says.  “This time though, they wanted to do something site-specific.”

After spending time in the area the artists discovered the most evident thing about the lake was its mirror-like quality.  They were inspired by the lake’s rippling responses to wind changes and wanted to convey this relationship to the general public.

The result was a series of nine stainless steel floating wind ‘petals’, each with their own anchor point and dispersed across the lake.  The use of mirrored stainless steel meant the original concept delivery was met.

“We needed to find a material that was robust enough, as well as something that would reflect the lake itself,” says Lubi. “That is what inevitably drew us towards mirrored stainless.”

The pieces are made entirely of grade 316 in sheet, tube and flat bar to cater to the environment, and to ensure a life of 20-25 years. The added benefit is that ongoing maintenance is limited to removing the marks of nature.

ASSDA member and Accredited Fabricator Rocklea Pressed Metal supplied materials for the works, and was further engaged for part of the fabrication.

Troy Olive of Rocklea Pressed Metal said the CAD drawings were sent to them, enabling them to laser cut and roll the petals to the desired radius.  In total, 12-15 sheets of stainless steel was used.

The use of mirrored stainless  meant an additional relationship was explored between the lake and the sun.  In the right conditions, the pieces react to the sunshine hitting the water, beaming light between the pieces.

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 40, Winter 2007.

Making Over the MCG with Stainless Steel Technology

The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) or the ‘G’ as it has become affectionately known, has an important project deadline.

The national sports icon is currently undergoing a redevelopment in preparation for the 2006 Commonwealth Games to be held in March.

When complete, the ‘G’ will boast three impressive glazed entry structures over the Ponsford Gate, the Members Entrance and the Olympic Stand Entrance, each with its own network of high tensile stainless steel members.

The project is a collaboration between Ronstan’s architectural division and steel contractor, Materials Fabrication.

ASSDA member, and Australia’s own world leader in tension structures, Ronstan Architectural Rigging Systems, has been intimately involved in the supply of stainless steel tension rods on the project.

Ronstan looked at the loads required and selected the material grade for the specific tensile characteristics. This allows for the optimal efficiency of the tendon in transferring the load, a key requirement in lightweight tensile architecture.

In this case the ‘G’ structures included 600 tendons with adjustable fork ends manufactured from approximately two kilometres of 19mm grade 316L stainless steel bar.

These were polished to a No. 7 finish and passivated to achieve the required aesthetics and longevity.

“The challenge was to compliment a great product with the right mix of product support,” said Rowan Murray, General Manager of Ronstan Architectural Rigging Systems.

Images courtesy of John Gollings.
This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 32, Winter 2005.

Maintenance Critical to Stainless' Performance

The growth in the use of stainless steel over recent decades has been a real success story, predominantly due to its aesthetic appeal and, of course, its resistance to corrosion


However, the continuing performance of stainless steel, particularly in harsh coastal environments, relies not only on the intrinsic features of the material, but also on appropriate maintenance.


ASSDA Accredited Fabricator Bell Stainless from Kunda Park on the Sunshine Coast, Qld has had extraordinary success both nationally and internationally, being the only company in the world to have won multiple South Africa Stainless Steel Development Association Awards - one of only two Australian companies to win.

Bell Stainless general manager David Vine said they took the ongoing maintenance of their work very seriously and cited their installation several months ago of the balustrade for the HMAS Brisbane memorial at Alexandra Headland on the Sunshine Coast as a key example.

Mr Vine said they used two products from ASSDA member Cyndan Rapelle Pty Ltd - an Australian industrial chemical manufacturer - to keep this type of installation looking good:

- Cyndan Stainless Steel Cleaner, which uses a combination of phosphoric acid and ammonium biflouride, providing deep cleansing of grime, mineral salts, leaching, oxidation and other stains, particularly tea stains; and

- Cyndan Rapelle Stainless Steel Sentry - a protective treatment that fuses with the surface forming a water repellant film to reduce corrosive build up of salts.

He said they have used Cyndan products since 1999 and found them time effective, easy to manage and safe to use.

Cyndan Chemicals was founded in Australia in 1978 and has partnered with Rapelle Pty Ltd to market their products internationally.

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 37, Spring 2006.

Fitness Never Looked So Good

Sydney’s Fifty Four Park Street is not your average gym. The exclusive venue recently underwent a luxury makeover requiring 250 square metres of stainless steel to fully portray the club’s intended style and class. ASSDA Accredited Fabricator Townsend Group worked with designer Blainey North to create a stunning and sustainable interior.

Mirror finished columns are a focal point of the indoor pool, featuring circular column cladding joined with chrome coloured silicon to maximise waterproofing. Two of the columns double as large features with water pumped up the centre of each, to spill out and over the top.

Townsend Group’s Mark Ryan says the columns are constantly drenched in warm, chlorinated pool water, so grade 316 stainless with a No.8 finish was the best choice for corrosion resistance in the humid, damp environment.

Skirting, handrails, patch fittings, stair soffits, a dividing-wall feature and balustrades were mostly vee-cut prior to rolling or bending to achieve tight radii bends. All polishing was done by hand to a mirror finish to produce a highly reflective surface as specified by the designer.

“Blainey North specialises in upmarket fit-outs and is meticulous about workmanship and quality,” said Mr Ryan, who added that clean, reflective surfaces were a high priority.

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 44, Spring 2008.

Earth-Friendly Installation

A weld-free installation process has caught the attention of Victoria’s caving community.

Parks Victoria and ASSDA Member Stainless Tube Mills Fences Pty Ltd recently completed a visitor access upgrade for popular tourist sites, the Royal and Fairy Caves.

STM Fences’ patented assembly process for tubular panels allows for easy installation without the need for welding.

Ranger in charge of Buchan, Dale Calnin, said using this system meant installation wasn’t damaging to the caves’ sensitive environment. 

“The stainless steel balustrading looked fantastic and is a well presented modular system,” he said.

Mr Calnin said this process would be welcomed by the international caving community.

220 metres of grade 316 stainless steel handrails and balustrading were installed to provide strong and durable protective barriers.

The application consisted of 50.8mm diameter top and bottom rails with 12.7mm diameter spigots, square mesh panels and fabricated stainless cable trays by Duraduct Pty Ltd.

Double top rails were also installed, using STM Fences’ innovative swivel cones to help with undulations throughout the caves.

A fine bright finish was applied by Stainless Tube Mills Pty Ltd and fabricated components pickled and passivated by Duraduct for maximum corrosion resistance.

Great caution was taken during installation to protect the caves’ delicate interior.

“STM Fences worked closely with Brettell Developments to ensure installation was handled appropriately for the environmentally sensitive area,” STM’s Peter Martin said.

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 45, Summer 2009.