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Charleville
1st Sep 2008, 07:26 PM
I am interested in people's perceptions of steel quality available through steel sellers, seeking to learn from other people's experiences, if I can.

Here is my story. Having rekindled my love of getting my hands dirty with welder, grinder and related toys this year and having a really terrific time making a few things ranging from a box trailer to garden gate frames, I have naturally needed to buy a fair bit of steel in recent months.

I had been in the habit of buying steel from Scott Metals at the 'Gabba, mostly because they publish their prices on the internet and I have never been let down by their quality. (They advertise that all of their steel is Aussie made.)

However, through this website, I have come to learn of other good steel sellers, in particular, Direct Steel Supplies at Dinmore near Ipswich, from whom I bought $500+ of steel a few months ago. Their service and pricing was stunning, being only about 54% of the price quoted by Scott's. I remain very happy with the quality of the steel supplied on that occasion as well.

However, as my projects progressed, I found that I needed just a couple of bits more so I went to a local supplier, Gateway Steel, on two separate occasions with my trailer and picked up a length of galvanised RHS ( halved to fit in my trailer) and subsequently, a length of galvanised flat mild steel. Gateway Steel is not as expensive as Scotts but a little more expensive than the Dinmore people.

In both cases, the steel was not straight by any means. I took it and used it but am disinclined to shop there again as it almost seems to me that the steel was second grade quality that they sell to home handyman mugs. :(

Am I being unfair? Is steel often found to be significantly curved and was I just lucky with the steel that I bought from the Dinmore merchant or should I stay away from Gateway Steel Supplies?

malb
1st Sep 2008, 08:25 PM
When I was in the metal furniture frames and fittings game, we often had hassles getting a order line filled with consistent stuff. Order 100 lengths, say and you would get 40 Aussie with normal slightly rounded corners, and the balance split between 2 or 3 other lots with different corners from true right angles to a one that looked like it had been rolled as a round, then squashed a bit to give it flats on the sides. The seam welds were also very variable between batches.

Suppliers were never overly concerned, but if they bought a 4 or 5 piece lounge suite and the bases were all made of different profiles, you would hear them screaming and ranting miles away.

Similar situation with stainless as well, one product needed 100 x 50 x 3mm wall RHS tubing. There were two importers for this stuff in Au, one lot was scratched and corroded from sea transport in an open container, and often sported a 200mm bow in a 6m length. The other couldn't get the rolling mill set up to handle it, and had a twist of about 25 degrees in a 6m length and extremely patchy seam welds. Try making 3m by 1.5m frames for glass topped tables with either of those. Some lengths were sent back five or six times over a two year period because they were literally unusable. It got to the point that we were on first name basis with lengths of metal when the deliveries came. .

Steel supply seems to be very much a 'whats available wholesale today' issue unless you order in huge amounts with detailed specifications and the means to analyse for compliance.

Charleville
1st Sep 2008, 08:48 PM
Thanks Malb. That is a fascinating response.

It is interesting, I would have thought that steel making was such a craft after these hundreds of years of people doing it that the quality of rolling etc would be pretty well sorted out. Obviously not.

There is so much to learn! :rolleyes:

malb
2nd Sep 2008, 09:47 PM
We worked with MS 12mm square 1.6 wall through to 125 x 75 5mm wall, plus round and rectangles, SS to the 100 x 50 mentioned and 100 square, similar rounds and bars to 100 x 10, and some brass rounds.

The main stuff that was substandard was the two sources of 100 x 50 SS. With the other stuff, it was a case of suppliers buying wherever the could, and filling orders with mixed batches having different profiles. And we weren't buying from the bottom of the barrel as such, its just that metal demand was always on the verge of exceding supply.

In both cases of 100 x 50 SS, the base metal was rather variable, judging by the way it behaved in the saw. Some of was virtually unworkable with hard spots etc, that the saw literally bounced off. Given that, I can understand it giving the rolling mill a hard time.

The other main issue we had with materials was descaling SS bar. The Indian, Chinese and one brand of Korean was notorious for having voids under the scale. The Japanese and Scandinavian was great when you got it, but very rare because it was about 4 times the price and hardly ever arrived in the country.

Andy Mac
3rd Sep 2008, 08:19 AM
I don't mind it when you buy down grade stock, you expect the odd length with a split seam, or dodgy rolling, but not when you pay full price. We buy 25x25RHS mild steel at uni for stage productions, making sets that will only see 2weeks use before being pulled apart again.
We also regularly buy mild steel sheet for etching (the days of copper and zinc seem to have gone) and an interesting thing crops up. There can be different reactions with the steel to the nitric acid (patchy etching) which would indicate the steel isn't uniform in composition. Me thinks its cheap import made from a blend of recycled metals, not all mild steel!:oo:

Cheers

damian
3rd Sep 2008, 09:02 AM
I now work for a huge heavy industy company who shall remain nameless in the interests of my ongoing employment. We spend in the millions with our suppliers.

Blackwoods treat us with contempt. I cna even get a call back from our supposedly dedicated sales rep with a few dimensions and details.

Sandvik send us stainless sheets that are up to 20 mm out of square.

Steel industry is mature and they can supply quality, it's all quite doable, but if the customers have no where else to go why would you bother ?

Bit like banks, certain retailers, petrol....politicians...Until you've got a viable alternative you take what your given.

Retromilling
3rd Sep 2008, 11:22 AM
Thanks Malb. That is a fascinating response.

It is interesting, I would have thought that steel making was such a craft after these hundreds of years of people doing it that the quality of rolling etc would be pretty well sorted out. Obviously not.

There is so much to learn! :rolleyes:
It was a craft and then CHINA interviened with massive mountains of cheap crap steel and the whole industry has to try and compete with that.
They are buying up tungsten mining and production around the world and steel manufacturing also trying to get control of iron ore mining and metals in general.
They want to have a monopoly on metal engineering in general. Scary!
Sales of Japanese metal working machines is down 17% last year because of lost sales to China.

Retromilling
3rd Sep 2008, 11:27 AM
I now work for a huge heavy industy company who shall remain nameless in the interests of my ongoing employment. We spend in the millions with our suppliers.

Blackwoods treat us with contempt. I cna even get a call back from our supposedly dedicated sales rep with a few dimensions and details.

Sandvik send us stainless sheets that are up to 20 mm out of square.

Steel industry is mature and they can supply quality, it's all quite doable, but if the customers have no where else to go why would you bother ?

Bit like banks, certain retailers, petrol....politicians...Until you've got a viable alternative you take what your given.
Blackwood are a bad company to deal with . I just had a run in with them over returning a faulty article and it took months to get my money back.
The crap they put me through trying to get them to send me my money was a joke.
I will never buy from them again .

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