New Stainless Products for Indian Building Sector
A. N. Singh
sector is one of the most potential areas for new stainless steel product development and
Food, clothing and shelter are the three most
essential- needs of human being. To meet these basic needs most of our industries are
engaged in production and supply of food products, textiles, and building materials.
Stainless Steel due to its unique material properties, playing significant role in adding
value to the products of food, textile and building sectors.
Application of stainless steel in food sector does not need any description. Today we
cannot get our food without presence of stainless steel appliances in our kitchens. In
fact the very first successful application of stainless steel started in form of cutlery,
in the year of its invention in 1913. Since then stainless steel has become the most
important engineering material for food processing sector. Similarly in textile and
garment industry, where ever dyes and chemicals are involved, stainless steel is
inevitable choice. Many precision components of textile machinery are being made of
In the building sector Stainless Steel was introduced in the year 1930 with cladding of
top portion of the Chrysler Building at New York in USA. Stainless cladded top still
remains in very good condition even after facing 68 years of rough weather.
The latest major example of stainless steel applications in modern buildings is at
Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. The twin 88-storey tower has utilized more than
six thousand metric tons of stainless steel in form of panels, tubular structures, door
and windows, facade and various other building components.
In the global context about 12.6% of total stainless products goes for fabrication of
building hardware. But in India the consumption pattern is extremely low to the level of
about 0.5%. During the last few years some application has begun in Indian buildings as
column claddings, railings, door and window frames, structural etc. But practically it is
negligible compared to developed countries.
For growth of Indian Stainless industry, the very first requirement is to identify
potential areas of applications. Based on the global application patterns and domestic
data, we have identified building sector as one of the most potential areas for new
stainless product development and promotion.
Before making any strategic plan for promotion of stainless steel in building sector, it
is essential to figure out the causes for such low consumption. To find out the root
causes we conducted a field study and customer survey. Based on the findings of study, the
following main reasons were identified for low consumption of stainless steel in Indian
- Lack of awareness among builders, architects
and users about stainless product applications in building sector.
Non-availability of stainless
building products in Indian market.
Lack of fabrication technology
and trained manpower for production and installation
Lack of appropriate designs,
suitable to Indian lifestyle and architecture.
To create the awareness
about the stainless products and its applications, we are organising various workshops and
seminars since last 10 years through Indian Stainless Steel Development Association. But
creating only awareness in the mind of the people without making the product physically
available, many times become counter productive.
Today people dont buy product alone, they want solution to their problems or needs.
Therefore it is essential that before creating awareness for a new product we must ensure
that the product is readily available in the market place, and is capable of meeting the
customers, functional, architectural and economic requirements.
A stainless door which is used in an European home cannot be used as it is in Indian
conditions. To provide a successful product, supplier should ensure that it is designed as
per domestic conditions, economically produced and made available in domestic market.
After realising these basic bottlenecks, Jindal Strips Ltd. the largest producer of
stainless steel in India, has taken a pioneering initiative to set up a Stainless Design
Centre at New Delhi.
The main objective of stainless Design Centre is to identify, develop and promote new
stainless products based on Indian designs, which can be economically produced and
supplied by Indian fabricators. New product designs would be provided to selected
entrepreneurs with complete technical assistance for production and promotion of the
product. Stainless Design Centre with a team of professional designers and engineers is
currently working on design and development of various new products in the areas of
Building hardware, Kitchen Systems, Public utilities and Consumer durable.
In this paper new product for Indian building sector, which has been identified and
developed by Stainless Design Centre, are presented for commercialisation by stainless
fabricators of the country .
Why Stainless Steel in buildings?
The main objective of any industrial and economic development is to improve the quality of
life of the people. This is only possible if the developmental activities are sustainable.
Sustainable development is a process of change in which exploitation of resources, the
direction of investments, the orientation of technological developments and institutional
changes are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human
needs and aspiration.
In sustainable development all activities must be integrated with environmental aspects
During the twentieth century (which has incidentally 26 more weeks to go) in the name of
industrialisation and so-called development, in fact we have destroyed our environment to
alarming level. We have blindly cut the green trees, eliminated the most of the dense
forests, contaminated natural water with industrial effluents and polluted the air with
suffocating gases. Result is ecological imbalance, erratic weather, complex diseases and
unpleasant environment, which are deteriorating every moment.
In the process of deforestation of our planet earth, building sector has also made
significant contribution. If we examine our buildings we will find plenty of wooden items
used in it. Can we comfortably live in a house, at the cost of our natural environment?
I am sure all of you will agree with me that, if we are not taking pro-active steps to
restore our natural environment, we will be leaving an inhabitable polluted world for our
Now it is a natural duty of each one of us to examine the environmental impact of every
product we produce or consume at our work place and home. With specific reference to
building materials, we must replace the existing products that adversely impact the
environment, by an appropriate sustainable material.
To get proper insight let us examine the building materials used in our country .In
addition to the brick and cement the major building materials include wood, carbon steels,
aluminium and plastics.
The wood is mainly used in doors, windows and furniture of Indian buildings. Due to rapid
rate of decreasing number of trees it is becoming scarce and expensive. Wood is prone to
termite attack and fire, needs periodical painting and maintenance in addition to the
maximum impact on our ecology. In real sense to save our lives we cannot afford to cut any
Carbon steel is used for re-enforcement of concrete, fabrication of gates, grills, door
and window frames, and various hardware items. Carbon steel has problem of rusting and
needs periodical painting, regular maintenance and has to be replaced after few years.
Aluminium is used in limited way especially for fabrication of door and window frames,
grills and some of the building hardware. Aluminium does not have adequate strength, wear
resistance and fire resistance. Due to lightweight and low hardness it is easy to
fabricate but wears very fast due to poor abrasion resistance.
Plastic is a relatively new material for building sector. It is mainly used for water
storage tanks and some other building hardware for bathrooms. Compared to other materials
it has very poor strength, shorter life, and poor aesthetic appeal and less cleanability
but low cost. It has adverse impact on environment.
The stainless steel is one of the best substitutes for the all the above four materials -
woods, carbon steel, aluminium and plastics from all angles including environment,
performance, aesthetics, safety, durability and life cycle costs. Stainless steel is one
of the best sustainable engineering materials of today.
What new stainless products can we
The main objective of any new product is to enhance the customer satisfaction by improved
product features, which can provide more convenience and comfort to the ultimate user.
With reference to the building products, the key product features, which need to be
addressed in any new product, include the safety, security, durability, freedom from
maintenance and frequent replacement, aesthetics etc. Technically speaking, except brick
and cement all building hardware currently made of wood, carbon steel aluminium and
plastic can be completely substituted by stainless steel products with improved features.
In order to identify the stainless products, which can be commercially introduced in
India, we conducted a study of the stainless building products being used in other
countries. Based on the examples and experiences of other countries we had intensive
interaction with a number of Indian architects, civil engineers, builders, fabricators,
marketers and ultimate users.
These interactions helped us to identify the typical needs of Indian building sector and
potential of stainless building hardware in Indian market. Based on the actual need of the
stainless building products, market potential, fabrication considerations, design and cost
factors, customer preferences and other business factors we have selected following three
products, which can be profitably and successfully introduced in Indian market:
Stainless door and window
Stainless security grill
Stainless Water Tank
After the identification of the products, the next step is to plan and organise the
production and availability of the same to the customers. Stainless Design Centre has done
complete study of all technical and commercial aspects of the product and is fully
equipped to provide comprehensive technical assistance to fabricators and entrepreneurs
who want to produce and launch these products.
Stainless Door and Window
Door and window frames are one of the most important building components, has constant and
high demand in building sector. From security and safety angle the door and window frames
must be strong and durable in addition to good looks.
The most commonly used material for door and window frames is wood. Due to rapidly
decreasing availability of wood and restriction on cutting of trees, the availability of
the wooden door and window frames is constantly decreasing with continuous rise in the
The other alternate materials for door and window frames are carbon steel, aluminium and
The door and window frames made of current materials have several disadvantages like
-prone to fire, wooden frames are attacked by termite, affected by moisture and water,
needs regular painting and maintenance etc.
To overcome these deficiencies of wooden, carbon steel, aluminium and plastic doors and
window, stainless steel is the most ideal substitute.
Compared to the wooden, steel, aluminium and plastic products, stainless steel door and
window frames has following major advantages:
Strong and durable
Low life cycle cost
Easily fabricated in desired
shape and size aesthetically beautiful
The input material for stainless door and window frames are cold rolled sheets in
thickness range of 0.8 to 1.2 mm. These frames can be made of AISI-201/ AISI-304 or
AISI-316 grades cold rolled stainless sheets, can be selectively used depending upon the
Stainless door and window frames can be fabricated from cold-formed profile sections.
These profiles can be produced in continuous cold forming line or in a simple press brake.
After the profiles are made the frames are cut to standard length as per design, 11
appropriate holes and slots are punched and the door and window frames are assembled
accordingly. Other components like hinges hold fast, tie rods etc. are fixed by fasteners
or spot welding.
Security grills are essential building hardware, fitted on the windows and balconies for
safety and security of the people and belongings. In addition to providing security it is
supposed to beautify the look of building.
The conventional grills are being made of carbon steel rods or thick flats mostly of
welded construction. Aesthetics and design of grills are quite important in addition to
its strength. Carbon steel grills, exposed to rain and moisture get rusted and need
frequent painting and replacement after few years. Due to rusting and corrosion problems
to get longer life these are made of solid steel bars, resulting to heavy weight.
A special kind of stainless grill made of rectangular and circular tubes have been
developed in Taiwan. These grills are produced in beautiful designs and are lightweight
but very strong. Taiwanese are adopting an innovative method for fabrication of grills
which involves very little welding.
These grills can be made in various sizes and designs to fit all kind of applications.
These grills can be fitted in windows, balconies of the houses and can be used as road
dividers and boundary walls also. Just like any other stainless items, these grills are
also totally maintenance free and long lasting.
The input materials for these grills are rectangular or circular tubes of stainless steel.
Various sizes of tubes are cut to standard length and holes are punched in the tubes for
assembly of cross tubes. For punching of holes, special kind of tools and dies are used
which are fitted in small power press. After the assembly of tubes comer joints are TIG
To give sparkling finish, after the assembly, the grills are electro-polished. Plants for
fabrication of grills can be set up in small-scale sector .
Stainless water Tank
It is one of the biggest ironies on this earth, with 75% of its total area covered with
water, the availability of drinking water is gradually becoming a major problem for the
human society throughout the world.
Even in a low income group country like India drinking water is being sold at 12 rupees a
litre, almost at the same rate as of milk. As per municipal norms, an individual requires
20 gallons (about 120 litters) of water per day for drinking, sanitary and bathing
The potable water is mostly supplied by the local water supply departments for limited
time only, every domestic or office building needs at least one water storage tank for
meeting 24 hours requirement. The earlier tanks were made of concrete, with the increased
availability of steel gradually it got substituted by galvanised steel tanks. During the
last few years with the developments in plastic technology, plastic tanks has become the
most popular choice for storage of potable water.
Water tank has become essential product for building sector. From product point view, the
basic characteristics which must be met by a water storage tank includes the following:
· The material of tank should not contaminate and react with water stored in it.
· The inner surface of the storage tank should be smooth enough, not to create a rough
site for growth of fungus and algae.
· Tank material should have high cleanability and tank design should provide easy to
· Water tank should be practically maintenance free and provide long service life.
· Water storage tank material must be environment friendly
· Water tank should be light weight and easy to install
· Water tank should be aesthetically beautiful to match with the architectural elements
· Water tank should be economically affordable by most of the customers
Compared to the concrete, galvanised and plastic tanks, stainless steel water tank stands
most superiors on all of the above aspects with the minimum life cycle cost.
Stainless water tanks are fabricated from AISI 304 grade cold rolled sheets. Initial cost
of stainless water tanks are about two and half times than of similar plastic tanks but
its life cycle cost comes out to be one third of plastic tank life cycle cost. Stainless
water tanks are having over seven times longer guaranteed life compared to plastic tanks
and tremendous hygienic and aesthetic value .which no other material can provide.
Stainless water tank fabrication mainly involves seam-welding process. The input material
is AISI-304 grade stainless steel cold rolled sheets in thickness range of 0.5 to 0.8 mm
and width range of 500 to 1500 mm. Top and bottom ends of the tank are deep drawn in large
press and supplied to fabrications units. Barrel portion is fabricated from cold rolled
Fabrication process mainly involves electrical resistance welding of sheets and top and
bottom dish ends. To increase the strength, barrel portion is rolled to provide ridges in
a ridge-rolling machine. Production technology is simple but needs special purpose welding
and ridge rolling machines.
The complete plant for fabrication of stainless water tank can be set up in small sector.
There is potential for over a hundred such plants in India.
How to go for commercial production of
As I have mentioned earlier, just creating awareness of any new stainless products is not
enough to develop business opportunity. We have known about the three potential products.
Now it is important to create business from these products. To convert these products in
to new business, in addition to will of the entrepreneur and funds, the following three
elements are essential:
Regarding the market potential of building products, as per the estimates more than half a
million new houses in urban sectors are built every year. On average, a two bedroom house
requires 8 door frames, 10 window frames, about 10 grills along with at least one water
storage tank. Thus there is vast demand of the products. In addition to houses a large
number of offices, shops, institutions, commercial buildings, restaurants and factories
are built, renovated every year also require door & window frames and water tanks.
To produce good quality products as per requirements of modern buildings, matching
production facilities are essential. For production of door, window frames and grills
either new facility has to be created or the similar kind of existing units can be
modernised. For production of stainless water tank, a completely new set of machinery is
required. Some of the machines need to be imported from other countries.
The most important aspect for success of these products, is availability of appropriate
technical know-how and absorption of technology for design, production, promotion and
marketing of the new products. This is a major problem especially for small and medium
scale stainless industry. Realising the criticality of technical know how, Jindal
Stainless Design Centre has taken initiative for identification and development of source
of technical know-how and transfer of technology to the production units.
To ensure the success of new products, Stainless Design Centre is offering following
services to competent and dynamic entrepreneurs right from Concept to Commercialisation of
the stainless products:
Design of new stainless
Assistance in setting up of
Assistance in procurement of
Supply of raw materials.
Technology transfer and
Product promotion and market
Those setting up a new project on planning expansion of existing one would do will to
ponder over the advantages of stainless steel in building.