Extensive Testing Provides Next Generation ZINCALUME® Steel's Durability
An innovative new building product about to be launched by BlueScope Steel has benefited from a durability testing program remarkable even by its own thorough standards.
Next generation ZINCALUME® steel with patented Activate® technologies has been developed by testing more than 5000 panels in a wide variety of laboratory and 'real world' climatic conditions over 17 years.
BlueScope Steel says the extensive testing has confirmed the more effective corrosion resistance of its innovative coating formulation.
"Our improved ZINCALUME® steel represents an enormous investment of time, manpower and money by BlueScope Steel in developing a product that provides significant durability advantages over other steel building products," said BlueScope Steel market manager commercial and industrial, Manu Siitonen.
To be introduced in mid-2013, next generation ZINCALUME® steel incorporates magnesium compounds in its formulation which 'activate' the aluminium in the coating to provide even more effective corrosion resistance.
The first steel panels with the new formulation were sent for outdoor testing in 1995.
In 2006 the field testing was expanded to 22 sites in 10 countries, including China, the United States and New Zealand.
Product durability team leader Tahnee Lowe has been monitoring the progress of next generation ZINCALUME® steel for the past six years.
"Our heavy emphasis on real-world field testing of new products contrasts with other manufacturers who predominantly assess small test panels using accelerated weathering techniques to fast-track durability results," said Ms Lowe.
"Several decades of product testing experience has taught BlueScope Steel that accelerated testing is useful in initial phases of development, but is no substitute for the assurance that comes from many years of field testing.
"As a result of our comprehensive testing process, we are confident that next generation ZINCALUME® steel will be more durable, provide a reduced environmental impact* and maintain its renowned aesthetic appearance."
The majority of field testing was conducted in Australia to ensure that next generation ZINCALUME® steel will cope with unique local conditions.
Next generation coated products were fitted to more than 50 buildings including several purpose-designed assessment structures.
A wide range of roll-formed products were installed using typical building industry construction methods.
"When we compared the corrosion performance of next generation ZINCALUME® steel with the current product, we found the biggest improvement in the most severe environments - such as surfaces which are unwashed by rainfall and also subject to air pollution," Ms Lowe said.
The superior corrosion resistance of next generation ZINCALUME® steel was confirmed via independent testing conducted by the internationally recognised French Corrosion Institute.
Manufactured under a range of Australian and International patents, BlueScope Steel has invested more than $100 million dollars to develop its next generation coating and the associated manufacturing technology.
Manu Siitonen says the new product is a response to emerging building requirements necessitating advances in areas such as material efficiency, durability and sustainability.
"To adequately address changes in the building industry such as site and location variations, as well as changes to regulations, it is imperative that today's building products are constantly improving in line with evolving industry standards.
"Essentially, next generation ZINCALUME® steel is a better product that caters for current and future advances in the building industry," he said.
*Compared to original ZINCALUME® steel (AZ150 coating) in all LCA environmental impact categories when used in Commercial & Industrial roofing applications. This improvement is the result of innovation in the metal coating formulation that delivers an increased lifespan while using fewer metal resources.
Next generation ZINCALUME® steel AM125 introduces magnesium into its aluminium-zinc alloy coating, which improves galvanic protection by activating the aluminium.