Stainless steel sheets have been widely used for decorative purposes such as exterior walls, roofing and elevators because of their attractive appearance and durability. Nowadays, stainless steel is increasingly used as a load-bearing structure in harsh environments. From the perspective of the entire life cycle of the structure, in most cases, stainless steel is more cost effective.
More than half of the world's annual steel production is used in the field of building structures. I-beams, plates and steel bars in buildings and bridges are usually made of economical carbon steel or low-alloy structural steel. Unfortunately, these steels are prone to rust, causing enormous economic and environmental impacts on global infrastructure, affecting roads, bridges, buildings, and oil, water, and wastewater delivery systems.
A large number of studies have shown that industrialized countries suffer from 3% to 4% of GDP per year due to corrosion. This includes only direct damage from the replacement of damaged materials and components, while indirect losses such as production losses, environmental impacts, traffic disruptions, personal injury and death losses are estimated to be equal.
Standard structural steels must be painted or metal coated to minimize corrosion. In addition to the initial cost of paint protection, coated steels can also incur expensive inspection, maintenance, or replacement costs throughout the life of the coating. Indirect maintenance costs, such as production and revenue losses, can also be high. Even sometimes, due to conditions, it is impossible to inspect and maintain structural components.
Life cycle cost comparison
Designers are now increasingly considering the cost of the structure over its entire life cycle, not just its initial investment. When considering life cycle costs, especially for structures that require good durability, or that inspections and maintenance cannot be performed or are very expensive, stainless steel is a viable option even though stainless steel is much more expensive than carbon steel.
Moreover, there are ways to reduce the gap in material costs. Eliminating the coating reduces installation costs. When higher strength duplex stainless steel is used, the section size and weight can be reduced, further reducing the initial cost.
In terms of maintenance costs during the life of the structure, the use of stainless steel eliminates the need for coating maintenance and parts replacement due to corrosion. Stainless steel construction is also a more sustainable solution that helps reduce emissions and reduce resource consumption and waste