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SSC Laser
24th June 2019

Super Steel Structures and Landmarks

It is hard to think that you are surrounded by laser cutting in your everyday life. From components in your car to precise laser cut girders in some of the most significant landmarks in the world.

In our most recent blog, we take a look at some of these super steel structures in detail and the steel they were manufactured from. We will also explore the reasons why particular steel was used, its properties, and how SSC Laser Cutting works with the steel at one of our nationwide manufacturing facilities.

Angel of the North

Super Steel Structures and Landmarks

The recognisable sculpture sits overlooking the A1 on the outskirts of Newcastle, Tyneside and has stood in its position since 1998.

As with a lot of external steel structures, the long-term protection from the elements is always a huge factor to consider. Adverse weather can harm the biggest of structures, especially those that are subject to some of the most unforgiving of winters.

To counter the sometimes harsh British weather, the Angel was made in three pieces, which themselves included over 3,000 individual parts of weather resistant Corten Steel.

Why was Corten Steel utilised for the Angel? Using Corten Steel aids in giving the rust effect look of the Angel as it weathers with an orange/brown rust coating. This rust coating, created by the slow oxidation process, protects the structure from further weathering and corrosion, becoming part of a protective layer for the Angel. Over a prolonged period, the surface of Corten regenerates over and over again, building up a robust protective coating.

With the rust effect giving the Angel its distinctive orange look and colouring, it also removes the need to have the structure painted to protect it against the elements, thus saving time and money when it comes to long-term maintenance.

Corten Steel can be found in many “industrial” looking structures due to the vivid colours it produces. SSC Laser has no issues when laser cutting Corten as we have cut it for many customers and even used the same steel for our laser cut Armistice Remembrance Memorial in November 2018. Corten Steel is laser cut at both our Stafford HQ and Derby Manufacturing centres.

Statue of Liberty

Super Steel Structures and Landmarks

Built as a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, Lady Liberty stands at just over 151 feet. The metal framework was built by Gustave Eiffel, best known for the design of the Eiffel Tower in France.

The total weight of the Statue is a staggering 201 tonnes with 113 tonnes comprising of the steel used in the frame and 27 tonnes of copper used on the outside of the impressive structure.

Originally the Statue was dull brown in colour, but over time, due to oxidation, the copper plates changed colour to the green we are used to today. This oxidation process produced a thin layer of copper carbonate that actually protects the copper panels from underneath, protecting it from further corrosion.

If this structure was created today, the copper components would have been laser cut utilising non-ferrous laser cutting techniques. Copper can prove a tricky metal to laser cut due to its high reflective nature. The composition of copper can cause a laser beam to deflect back up, blowing the lens and causing onward damage to the bellows and mirrors. The overall damage that this would cause amounts to over 2 days downtime fixing the laser cutters with an expensive repair bill, north of £5,000. However, at SSC Laser, we utilise cutting edge technology to counter this issue with our 10kW fiber laser which operates in a completely different way.

When using the 10kW fiber, the laser beam is delivered through fiber optic cables directly into the head, using no mirrors which stabilises the beam and shortens the delivery, resulting in nothing to blow back up. Unlike CO2 lasers the beam is completely encased, therefore allowing us to cut highly reflective materials, such as copper, while also increasing the thickness range we can laser cut too.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Super Steel Structures and Landmarks

The Sydney Harbour Bridge was built in Middlesbrough in the North East by Dorman Long and Co and opened in 1932. The bridge is the sixth longest spanning-arch bridge of its kind in the world.

After the discovery of iron ore in the Cleveland Hills in the 1840s, Dorman Long started metal production on Teesside. The resulting industry saw the population grow from 40 in the 1920s to over 5,400 12 years later. It was in this decade that the steel giant won the contract for the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it would take them 8 years to complete the mammoth project.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge consists of a framework with over 52,800 tonnes of silicon steel, a precursor to modern day structural steels. The steel used to construct the bridge was utilised due to its high carbon content, which made it much stronger and tougher – perfect for a bridge of its size!

The steel frame and rivets used in the bridge would have been manufactured without laser cutting! Modern laser cutting technology didn’t develop until 1968, meaning each section was fabricated and riveted in separate sections and then taken on-site, a section at a time to be placed and secured on the bridge. Without laser cutting, manufacturing each section would have been a lengthy task, without the precision digital technology to produce the same size cuts every time we have now. Today, laser cutting would also be used for base plates, connection plates, even decorative pieces.

The team at SSC Laser Cutting has vast experience and history working with leading structural steel companies who would be involved with suchlike projects. These companies can be assured of SSC’s commitment to quality through continual improvement and control, this is proven with our ISO 9001:2015 and CE Marking Execution Class 3 certification.

Something a little different

The Angel, Lady Liberty and the Sydney Harbour Bridge are all very impressive feats of engineering and will stand the test of time. However, at SSC we like to keep our finger on the pulse with regard to any and all advancements in laser cutting and fabrication methods. That is why we really love these sculptures created by Korean sculptor, Park Chan-girl. Each sculpture is constructed from really thin metal layers. They are then fabricated by welding thousands of small steel nuts, moulding the overall design into a human or animal form. Each layer needs to be cut to precise design and shape in order to create the 3D feature of each sculpture, something that SSC Laser could easily help with using one of our state-of-the-art laser cutters.

Much, much more…

As mentioned at the start of this blog, laser cutting is all around us. While the structures we have highlighted today are grand in nature, laser cut components also play a part in everyday life that may go unnoticed. SSC Laser has manufactured parts and components for football and rugby stadiums in turnstiles and even within the structures and stadia with things such as bespoke beer pumps for some of the countries most recognised refreshments. If you spot something that you think is laser cut, tweet us a picture over at @ssclaser

Laser cutting really is all around you!

If you’ve visited one of these fantastic steel structures, we would love to see your pictures, send them to us via our Facebook Page today!

To discuss your upcoming laser cutting requirements, contact the team at SSC Laser.

T: 01889 270241 E: sales@ssclaser.co.uk

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