When Sydney's Star City Casino emerged from the chrysalis of its construction scaffolding, its metamorphosis included a gleaming 340m2 stainless steel-and-glass canopy facing the harbour.
Almost all of the stainless steels in use have 16% chromium or more and have nickel or other additions to make them austenitic and hence formable, tough and readily weldable. However, the formal definition of a stainless steel is that it is an iron- and carbon-based alloy with more than 10.5% chromium. Historically, the corrosion mitigation industry regarded alloys with more than 12% chromium as stainless steels mainly because those alloys did not corrode in mild environments. Because of the perceived problem of high initial price when using stainless steels, alloys that are ‘barely’ stainless (and with low nickel to boot) are more competitive with painted or galvanised carbon steel than higher alloys.
This is an abridged version of a story that first appeared under the same title in Stainless Steel Focus No. 07/2012.
The Nickel Institute's director of promotion, Peter Cutler, and consultant Gary Coates, reveal some of the reasons for the continuing popularity of nickel in stainless steels.
Stainless steel is everywhere in our world and contributes to all aspects of our lives. We find stainless steel in our homes, in our buildings and offices, in the vehicles we travel in and in every imaginable industrial sector. Yet the first patents for stainless steel were issued only 100 years ago.
How did this metal become so desirable over the past century that more than 32 million tonnes was produced in 2011? And how does nickel, a vital alloying element in most stainless steel alloys, contribute to the high demand for stainless steel?
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.
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