Colored Stainless Steel Sheets
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What is PVD Colored Stainless Steel
There are many methods for coloring metals, but the process for coloring stainless steel known as PVD - Physical Vapor Deposition is by far the toughest and longest lasting available today if done correctly. It is achieved by placing the product in a vacuum chamber and heating a proprietary blends of metals and compounds causing them to vaporize and pulling them across the chamber with magnets to create a uniform and ultra-tough coating on the product being coated. This is an extremely basic explanation of PVD. It's very difficult to do correctly and experience is a must.
You will not be able to tell the difference between a low quality PVD product or a high quality PVD product until it's been installed in the field. At that point, it's far too late to be looking for the right solution. The PVD market leader today is Double Stone Steel and we're glad to be able to offer the product in North America. If something changes, you'll be the first to know as we use Double Stone PVD in our own projects and/or products. We understand you have other issues to think about than a subpar product, and the last thing we want is a call about a failed installation.
Unlike LIC (light interference coloring) and electroplating, PVD can actually be specified from project to project without having to worry about colors changing or whether the color will change from sheet to sheet. None of the dipping processes can guarantee that and it's something to ask about when you're sourcing. However, the PVD process also has to be carried out correctly in order to achieve this level of uniformity. Fortunately, you can spec our Gun Metal, Rose Gold, or Copper colors, to name a few, and expect to receive the same color now or in the future. The point is your elevator, sky scraper, or corner guards will be the desired color, and not some random shade that would leave you with a tarnished reputation.
Long Term Reliability of PVD Coloring:
PVD coated stainless steel is excellent for both indoor and outdoor use as it maintains the color over many years, and will not change color when exposed to UV, if it's done correctly. It is also excellent as a secondary coating to the stainless steel as chemicals and detergents generally do not affect the finish. The available anti-fingerprint coating is extremely easy to clean and is fantastic for areas prone to graffiti as it's hydrophobic and is difficult to paint or color on.
Double Stone is one of a few companies willing to warranty their PVD Stainless steel and offers warranties up to 30 years, depending on the installation circumstances. Of course, you'll need to document the purchasing, fabrication and installation of the product to ensure the supply chain remains intact once you purchase from JTC Metals. However, the long and short is that you as an architect, builder, contractor, project owner, or end user can be confident you are getting the best product available, and you will not need to be calling us back for rework, color issues, etc.
Environment Implications of PVD Coated Stainless Steel
The coating process itself has much lower environmental impact than any dipping, electroplating, galvanizing or liquid coated application process, and there are no toxic chemicals to worry about or clean up. With the newer PVD technology entering the marketplace today via Double Stone, there is finally a coloring solution for stainless steel that can replace any other, with superior results that can actually be warrantied.
Available Materials for Color Stainless Steel
Colored stainless steel from Double Stone is available in 304 and 316 stainless steel and offers an attractive finish for general (304ss) and harsh environments (316ss). The PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) surface treatment is quite durable, and is actually harder than the stainless steel surface itself. This sounds great, but don't misunderstand. The benefits are a more impact and scratch resistant finish, but it’s not bullet proof. So don't expect the PVD coating to remain unscathed when you take a wire brush to it. However, it is vastly superior to the colored, black, or grey surface treatments available on the market today whether they're dipped or painted, and Double Stone is the de-facto standard against which other manufacturers are measured.
Fabrication and Installation of PVD Stainless Steel
We have received many inquires on the fabrication limitations of PVD stainless steel, and have included our own experiences here. If there is something not addressed here, please let us know. We offer fabrication services for construction projects, and commercial and industrial applications. Let us know about your project and/or job requirements on the Contact Us page.
Impact and Scratch Resistance:
The PVD coating is harder than the stainless steel surface itself and offers increased scratch and wear resistance. The end result is a product that will hold up well to general wear and tear from cleaning, clothing, shoes, luggage, human interaction, etc. However, do not expect something that will provide lifetime performance against abrasion impact such as carts running in to it, wheels hitting it, aggressive scratching from cleaning pads, or any other abrasion and/or impact that you would not subject other finished materials too. If you use it in applications it is intended for, expect decades of service. If you're not sure, please ask.
The AF (anti-fingerprint) coating is also PVD, and is the only one of its kind. It's easy to clean and is good for applications such as backsplashes, partitions, wall coverings, appliances, exterior wall cladding, interior architectural applications, and areas prone to graffiti. If you are going to be using PVD stainless steel in an application where some kind of surface treatment is required, please bear in mind, the AF is not desirable due to the hydrophobic properties and hardness.
You can bend the stainless without any issues. The PVD coating will not flake, crack, or otherwise show any any defects. We have formed angles from 0 -180 degrees, and have hemmed colored and black stainless steel. The hem was an open, teardrop hem, and there were no defects in the surface of the metal, and the coloring was consistent.
While you can certainly weld colored and/or black stainless steel, you will not be able to grind or polish the weld. If you absolutely insist on welding, the goal is to laser weld from the inside of a corner, or from the side that is not seen. If that is not possible, aim for a very fine weld with no filler rod or wire. Of course this will mean having parts that are extremely tight fitting.
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