Stainless Steel and its Fabrication
Stainless steel is becoming more popular and its use is wide and varied. At Hampton Stainless we specialize in ‘Architectural Stainless Steel’ this covers balustrades, handrails, fixtures, furniture components, fittings, marine, art and automotive. We’re specialists, so our fabrication methods are different from other general fabricators.
What is stainless steel?
Stainless steel is a generic term for a family of corrosion resistant steels containing 10.5% or more of chromium. The chromium forms a protective layer on the surface of the steel and prevents the corrosion which would normally occur.
At Hampton stainless we use two types of stainless steel:
- 316 and 2205 ‘marine’ grade – contains nickel, molybdenum & chromium, normally selected for external projects.
- 304 ‘food’ grade – contains chromium and nickel, normally selected for internal projects.
Stainless steel often involves a higher initial cost than other architectural metals (i.e. painted or galvanized steel, powder-coated aluminium), but its ‘lifecycle’ cost is lower. For example, a galvanized steel rail in a severe coastal environment could possibly need a full replacement after 10 years whereas a stainless-steel rail if correctly maintained could last up to 25 years or longer. In Queensland, there is a bridge currently been designed with stainless steel reinforcements in its structure that has a design life of 300 years.
At Hampton stainless we like to polish our stainless steel before we begin to fabricate, this gives a smoother quality finish. It is then cut to size, bent or rolled to shape if needed and Tig welded. We find Tig welding gives a cleaner neater weld. The heat tints created from the welds are fully electropolished and removed, then the product is given another polish to remove any marks created during fabrication and to smooth out any welds. This is very important for handrails as we need to create a smooth finish that can’t be felt when a hand is ran along the tube. If a balustrade is installed, we give another final polish to clean up any marks that may have occurred during installation.
All the stainless steel used at Hampton stainless is sourced from quality suppliers that guarantee its authenticity. For all external applications, we only use 316 or 2205 marine grade to ensure maximum corrosion resistance. Our tube has a 1.6mm wall thickness for strength and our flat bar is ‘hot rolled’ which gives it a smoother edge. We are careful with our handling and storage to prevent any damage to the stainless steel, which could have an impact on the aesthetic appeal of the final product and its corrosion-resistant properties. As we only use stainless steel in our workshop we can guarantee that any product fabricated by us will not be cross-contaminated by carbon steel.