• Eran Carmi | ערן כרמי

The use of Corten in the industry today

Corten is a grade of structural steel that is also known as weathering steel because, when exposed to atmospheric elements, it forms a protective layer of rust. It is used in a number of industrial applications, such as bridge structures and steel structures. And yet, it has become the aesthetic material subject of contemporary sculpture in recent years and is frequently used by leading artists and architects.

We at Shahaf Ltd love working with Corten because of its special qualities. We invest in research, development and refinement of the various technologies in working with Corten. We work to find special methods, welding and bending techniques for working with different metals in general, and particularly with corten.

These days we are working on a special art project with the international artist, Ken Kelleher, which challenges us to develop unique solutions in working with the Corten, such as hiding connection stitches etc.

Corten ערן כרמי Ken Kelleher
Asterix - Ken Kelleher

So why is there an interest in this kind?

The explanation for this popularity is very clear. Corten is structural grade steel, so it has a strong yield and tensile strength. It also has good weldability and features for shaping. But the primary reason for its increasing appeal in the art and architectural world is its natural rustic looks.

The substance forms its own protective layer of rust, which is almost orange like in color, as the surface level of the steel interacts with elements in the atmosphere. In any case, it does not require painting or treatment, and the steel is "self-healing" for all purposes. The only exception to that is when the material is submerged underwater, in which case treatment of some sort would be needed for the outer surface.

It is little wonder then that the new generation of artists, sculptors, and architects has become such a common material that this steel needs little maintenance and is fascinating and appealing in color to the eye.

Corten in Modern Art and Architecture

You may not have noticed it, but Corten steel is showing up everywhere. A prominent example is a sculpture named the 'Angel of the North' in the north of England - standing over 20 meters high and with a wingspan of 54 meters wide, the sculpture, situated on a hill just outside Gateshead and next to the busy A1 path, welcomes new tourists to the city.

Corten ערן כרמי
Angel of the north - England

Other apps include:

  • Facias for new buildings, like several museums of art and technology

  • Street sculptures

  • Steel furniture

  • Garden features

  • Modern bridges

  • Art pieces

Corten is Weathered Steel

What gives Corten a rustic, aged look? When the steel forms a layer of rust, Corten steel is formed, protecting the material against moisture and slowing the process of corrosion. While the content may be only a few months old, it may be from decades past. The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, for example, has an exterior Corten structure. At a facility in Indiana, over 12,000 pieces of steel were weathered and then placed through several wet-and-dry cycles a day to give a rustic look. The Corten at the Barclays Center has the same weathered steel in only a few short months, which will take several years, of course.

Corten ערן כרמי
Barclays Center - Brooklyn, NY

Corten Includes Protective Rust Layer

Steel is made by removing impurities from iron. Currently, stainless steel is already corroded by chromium, which prevents it from rusting. Corten Steel is formed by the combining of a specific mixture of steel and alloys. To give the well-known oxidized dark brown look, it is the mix that improves the rusting properties.

The wide rolls of Corten steel are cut to the appropriate width during the Corten transformation and rolled to the unique profile part. The patina process starts upon exposure to sunlight, which produces a protective layer of rust over the surface. The rust, left unchecked, will generate an ever-changing appearance. It is possible to apply a surface wax treatment that will avoid continued rusting and provide a protective shield against the elements.

Corten ערן כרמי
Corten rustic layer

What is there in the name?

Corten steel, containing copper, chromium, and phosphorus, is a high tensile strength, corrosion-resistant steel alloy. The name (Corten) reflects the special characteristics that allow resistance to corrosion (Cor) and high tensile strength (Ten). These characteristics make Corten steel especially suitable for use in any environment. It has a higher resistance compared to other steels against atmospheric corrosion. It serves as a protective coating that prevents the inner metal from further corrosion.

ערן כרמי, מייסד ומנכ"ל שחף בע"מ.

מחקר, תכנון, פיתוח, ויישום פתרונות אדריכליים ועיצוביים מורכבים בארץ ובעולם.

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