Many projects involving steel require sustainable material due to environmental factors whether they be stress, weather, corrosion, submersion, or some unique external factor. So what exactly does “sustainable” mean in this context? This blog will contextualize that exact definition for your ongoing and future projects and applications.
Sustainability is simply defined as the “ability to be maintained at a certain rate.” What does this mean in the context of a project requiring structural steel? Certain projects will call for a more sustainable, or corrosion resistant, grade due to the factors affecting the project. These factors can include but are not limited to stress, environment, location, and exposure. For example, an indoor application will typically have less detrimental environmental factors compared to an outdoor application in the city. That same outdoor application in the city will usually have fewer detrimental environmental factors than a project in a marine application. The more corrosive or detrimental factors in play will typically reduce a material’s sustainability. If a project requires a more sustainable material, then how do we come to find the proper grade for a unique application?
Now let us look at stainless grades compared to each other as well as carbon grades. The two most popular stainless grades are 304/L and 316/L, which can be found in various indoor and outdoor applications. The main difference between these two grades is 316/L has a higher resistance to corrosive factors due to its chemical makeup. A higher nickel content with chromium and additional molybdenum create a more defensive chemical makeup which helps maintains the material’s quality in outdoor and marine environments. Recently, 316/L has been replacing carbon in restoration and new projects due to it lasting 4-10 times longer than carbon steel. Simply put, 316/L will not corrode or pit nearly as quickly as A36 carbon.
Though 316/L is more corrosion resistant than 304/L, both of these grades are most resistant to corrosion than the carbon steel grades such as A36 or Grade 50. So what does that look like in a practical sense when planning for a job?
Typically speaking, the more sustainable a steel grade is, the more expensive it is. This is a proportional relationship seen from carbon grades up through super duplex grades. The main question to answer in the planning stage is, “What material does our project call for?” If the application were indoor with little-to-no external factors that would affect the sustainability of the material, carbon steel would most likely be the appropriate choice due to its economic cost. What if there is a marine environment with constant environmental factors in play? In this case, 316/L is a popular choice. Moreover, if there is that same application requiring not only higher corrosion resistance but also a higher strength requirement? 2205 or 2507 duplex stainless grades may be the best option.
Custom Stainless Structural Steel and More
Our laser welded, non-tapered stainless profiles are but a few of the myriad options Stainless Structurals is proud to offer. Anything from angles and beams to sharp-cornered hollow structurals like square and rectangular tubing are our specialty. Whether you need a commodity shape in stainless, a non-tapered carbon profile with both custom thicknesses and length, or a super duplex beam for a special application, we can handle it. With a minimum order quantity of just one 20’ stick and no weight requirement as well as our ability produce up to 36” profiles, no job is too big or too small for us to tackle. Contact our team today for more information.