Category Archives: Steel

Why Corten Steel? It seemed straightforward enough. All Metal Solutions (AMS) had been hired by property developer Dwyer Construction to supply certain steel elements in a prestigious housing development in St John’s Wood, London. The brief included railings, the entrance gate and a stand-alone planter, providing advice on suitable metals to make them and, oh yes, a weathered finish.

To meet the project architect’s request for the right finish, AMS recommended a specialist steel called Corten Steel. It contains chemicals that produce more resistance to atmospheric corrosion than other steels; over several years Corten steel reacts with the weather to produce a protective surface. But in this case, the architect did not wish to wait for the ‘weathered’ effect; he aimed to install it as a finished design feature from the start and in a specific colour and patina.

Search for a new look

Such a look had not been produced by AMS before – not only had the company to find new ways of handling and machining the steel but it also had to create a surface colour and a finish to order.

What made the task more complex was uncertainty about the physical properties of the box-section steel once it had been machined – a key factor in constructing the 2m high gate system. The design required the number ’10’ (part of the development’s postal address) and surrounding decorative steel fretwork be cut out of the gate’s central panels.

AMS opted to laser-cut the fretwork. It produced a prototype of the panel only to find its structural strength had been significantly weakened and would not make the gate secure or vandal-proof.

Going for that ‘weathered’ look with Corten Steel

corten steel weathered lookAdd to that the challenge of achieving the colour and ‘weathered’ look of the design, and AMS had to return to the drawing board. Umpteen prototypes later, as expected, it found that the panels with more material removed were structurally weaker. Despite this, the architect required a more open style and said no to ‘thicker’ fretwork panels.

How about mounting the fretwork on an aluminium backing sheet?” Piped up the research team. That  way, they argued, the gate could strengthened structurally but still incorporate the ‘lighter’ fretwork design.

Steel fretwork that had to adhere

Again, there was a snag: finding an adhesive strong enough to fix the thin and small areas of steel fretwork to the aluminium sheet without ‘bubbling’ and consequent weak adhesion. After several trials, they found a two-part epoxy adhesive to do the job.

AMS’s challenges were still not over. Creating the desired weathering effect was new territory and it took repeated experimentation before they hit on the idea of ‘pickling’ the steel in a corrosive bath of acetic acid and sodium chloride.

corten steel fretworkAgain, after considerable testing, the right combination of chemicals producing the desired colour was discovered. It ticked all the boxes: safe to use, thoroughly tested, did not damage the steel and produced a rust-like finish – just what the client ordered.

All Metal Solutions Limited (AMS) is an established and well-recognised fabrication business covering Hertfordshire and London for both new build and building maintenance. Based in Welwyn Garden City, AMS offers a highly skilled steel fabrication and site installation service for a wide range of products ranging from structural steelworks to architectural metalwork.

For more information or to arrange an initial consultation, please call: +44 (0) 1707 881177, or contact us via this link >>>


What is Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is an alloy of Iron with a minimum of 10.5% Chromium. 

Chromium produces a thin layer of oxide on the surface of the steel known as the ‘passive layer’. This prevents any further corrosion of the surface. Increasing the amount of Chromium gives an increased resistance to corrosion.

It also contains varying amounts of Carbon, Silicon and Manganese. Other elements such as Nickel and Molybdenum may be added to add other properties such as increased flexibility and corrosion resistance.


inventor of stainless steel
Harry Brealey

While Harry Brearley is given credit, by most, for the invention, French scientist Leon Gillet had documented its constitution in 1904. Gillet noted the composition and properties of his alloy mix, but he didn’t recognise the corrosive resistance of the material. 

In 1911 the German, Philip Monnartz, published the first detailed work on the corrosion resistance of stainless steel.  In 1912 at the Krupp Iron Works, Eduard Maurer and Benno Strauss, patented the first 21% chromium and 7% nickel combination for stainless. 

However, it was Brearley who patented the first martensitic stainless in 1913. While Brearley is generally given credit for the invention of modern stainless steel, this is disputable.Brearley immediately set out to market his invention. He called his metal “rustless steel”.

Sheffield, known as a city of cutlery manufacturers, seemed to be a perfect replacement for silver or nickel-plated steel. One manufacturer, Ernest Stuart, when testing the material in vinegar suggested a more marketable name of “stainless steel”.

stainless steel cutleryBy 1914, George Ibberson & Co, using this product manufactured by Thomas Firth & Sons, began producing knives. The product was not an immediate success, and Brealey soon earned the reputation of being the inventor of the “knife that would not cut”.

Brearley left Firth, over an ownership dispute of the invention, and W. H. Hatfield took over. In 1924, Hatfield patented the 18-8 version – 18% chromium and 8% nickel. This would soon become the most popular and widely used type of the steel. Adding titanium to the 18-8, Hatfield is also credited with the invention of 321 stainless. Uses in


Stainless steel in the construction industry is mainly used for the following products:

  • Cladding
  • Handrails and balustrading
  • Roofing
  • Drainage and rainwater products
  • Wall support products
  • Designed structural applications

The characteristics, notably its corrosion resistance, aesthetic appearance and mechanical properties, makes it ideally suited for many architectural applications. Optimum performance is achieved by considering these characteristics when designing in stainless.

What are our most Frequently Asked Questions?

Three areas spring to us:

1. What’s the difference between 304 and 316 stainless steel?

Well outwardly they look similar. The formulaic difference is that 304 contains 8% nickel whilst 316 has 10% nickel and 2% molybdenum. To the layman this means that 304 is used in kitchen applications – flatware, pots and pans. 316 is best used in water based products like swimming pools.

2. How do I clean stainless steel?

We sell a specific cleaner that removes bacteria form the grain in the surface , which most people think is the start of rust as it goes dark brown and can be hard to remove once it gets established. 

3. What are the most common finishes!

  • Polished – looks like mirror
  • Brushed Finish – had a textured brush, dull finish (this is the most common as it hides scratches, finger marks etc. the
  • 2B – this is the best finish , in our opinion, where the surface has had no treatment  and is left in raw finish and looks Matt

If you are considering using stainless steel in your construction project then contact All Metal Solutions  for help in making that decision and a quote for your requirements then just follow this link >>> 


The set of EastEnders

Steel requirements come to us in all shapes, sizes and from some amazing places!

eastenders steel requirements 2Well by now you have all seen the episode of EastEnders when the bus crashed into the ‘all steel’ Tube bridge!

What you might not have known is that we, All Metal Solutions of downtown Hatfield had a big role to play in that episode that was shot last December.

The bridge on the set is made of timber, and painted to look like a full steel bridge .

We were asked to come along and remove part of the bridge and rebuild using steel and steel panels as they wanted to crash a bus into it and make it look as real as possible in the way the bridge would look after and the impact it would have on the bus hitting it.

If you follow this link to the Eastenders’ bus crash it will give you images after the impact, it worked so well that they were able to drive a 2nd bus into the bridge to see if they could get a harder impact. In fact their steel requirements were more than exceeded by our supplies.

And then to complete the job back went the wooden bridge and their set designers made it look if it had been “repaired” by the time it was next viewed .

From our point of view, let’s hope the bridge falls down in the future so we can repair it with real steel!

Our ‘Friendly’ Suppliers

staircase steel requirementsIt’s not only stars with their steel requirements, but we also help our suppliers.

Knowing of our work done previously with steel bannisters for stairs (including one we did for a Ralph Lauren display in Harrods), a supplier asked them whether we could help.

The images seen here are of a stainless steel mirror finish handrail we have just completed.

They wanted to get rid of traditional handrail in their cottage. There is not much natural light above the stairs and the mirror finish on the inside of the steel stringers helps reflect more natural light on to the treads.

staircase steel requirements 2Bespoke mirror cladding covers to cover up all the existing timber work, and the glass also allows more natural light to come through the balustrade on the stairs.

These show our versatility, so even if it a simple steel beam or a complex piece of steel that needs manufacturing, All Metal Solutions are here to help you get your products produced to the highest standards and to a competitive price.

Just contact us with your needs from this link >>>

 All metal Solutions WeldingWelding  is a process where two or more pieces of metal are fastened together by use of heat and a suitable filler material. The process of applying heat melts the material with the filler and they become a homogeneous mass as they cool. The end result being 1 piece and not 2 pieces joined together

The concept was first developed in the middle ages, although the modern process wasn’t introduced until the 19th century. Before this, apart from mechanical joining such as riveting “forge welding” was the only means of joining two metal objects together. Forge welding used a forge or furnace to heat metal to extremely high temperatures and then both pieces were hammered together until they became one;  usually with the use of a “flux” or other chemical that helped remove impurity from the joint. When introduced, electric and gas flame heating methods proved to be much safer and faster for welders.

All metal Solutions WeldingAs many metal objects  are created by welding, indeed sometimes using  tools that have been welded themselves, welders have a wide range of employment opportunities , e.g. pipes, cars, aircraft, ships, machinery etc  etc. The possibilities are endless as welding can be done in most places, including underwater. Some systems use gas, while others use electric current and the newest forms involve use of a laser. The method used depends on a variety of factors but the form and thickness of the material is generally the deciding factor on which is most effective. Manual Metal Arc, Flux-Cored, Gas Metal-Arc, Gas Tungsten-Arc, Metal Inert Gas, Plasma Arc, Shielded-Metal Arc, Submerged Arc and Tungsten Inert Gas are all used and often for machine operated production processes.

The most widely used methods in the production of small quantities or “one offs” by a single “welder” are:

Manual Metal Arc Welding

Manual metal Arc welding or “Stick Welding” is popular due to its low cost. The process involves a device that gives off an electric current through the materials to be joined via a “stick” of filler material or electrode. It is called ‘arc welding’ because the electrical current that is created between the device and the materials forms an electric arc and hence generates the heat that melts the material and filler rod. This melted material is protected by a flux that is incorporated into the filler rod. During the process this flux melts and forms a hard crust over work to stop the weld from oxidizing.

MIG (Metal Inert Gas) Welding

This process uses a gas to shield the weld metal rather than the “Flux” in the arc process. The gas keeps the metal being welded from being effected from natural elements in the environment, like oxygen.  Rather than the use of a “Stick” of filler, this process uses a large drum of filler wire which is fed through an operator held “gun” along with the gas and electrical current. This allows the welder to operate continuously, making the process fairly quick. Operation of the equipment does not require high skill levels, but, the equipment used in MIG Welding can only be used where drafts and breezes cannot disturb the gas shield involved in the process. This process was originally introduced in the 1940’s to produce Liberty ships but was really perfected in the 1960’s.

TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) Welding

all metal solutions welding 2This is much like the process of MIG, above, in that is uses a gas shield to protect the weld. The main difference between these two forms is that TIG uses a tungsten electrode and a hand held filler rod, while MIG uses a metal wire which doubles as the electrode. Tungsten is used as the electrode because it is unique in that it can be heated to a higher temperature before melting than all other metals. This method is usually used in industries that work with stainless steel & aluminum.

All Metal Solutions  uses all 3 of these techniques depending on the nature of the job and its location; in addition we have a mobile welding facility that is perfect for on-site work.  For more details on what we can offer follow this link .

Metal Handrails masterIn a world where we are now more considerate towards the disabled, metal staircases are giving way to accessible ramps with metal handrails, and lifts as well as the standard staircase.  This is especially true in public access buildings such as railways stations across the country.

Recently a contract was issued to a main contractor, Hollywell Building Services,  on behalf of the end user Abellio Greater Anglia for the re-configuration of the ticket office to accommodate less abled persons at Stansted Mountfitchet station in Essex.  As part of this project,  new steps, a ramp with metal handrails and disabled friendly counters were required.

metal handrails and grilles Stansted Mountfitchet Station
Stansted Mountfitchet Station

All Metal Services were awarded the subcontract to supply and fit balustrading and Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant metal handrails  to the new facilities, as well as producing and fitting modifications to the existing anti-vandal grilles.

In the first instance we took the architects drawings supplied and produced DDA compliant designs for approval by the client. After approval we then proceeded to procurement and manufacture whilst liaising with Abellio Greater Anglia and Hollywell Building Services to ensure that all the manufactured components surrounding the staircase and ramp would be delivered on time and installed with the minimum disruption to the operation of the station and to the public.

Metal Handrails
Metal Handrails

To ensure the best possible customer experience and to comply with DDA regs we used a “Warm to the touch” paint finish on the yellow metal handrails. The re-configuring of the anti-vandal screens was necessary to allow the new DDA handrails to have sufficient clearance so as not to cause snags and catches to the traveling public.

This is just another example of how All Metal Solutions not only create solutions to construction problems   but also look at the wider consequences of their proposals whether  they be metal handrails in railway stations, shop fitting items in high end outlets or simply metal beams required by the building trade (commercial or residential).

To find out more about how All Metal Solutions could help your project come to fruition whilst at the same time taking into account full end user requirement as well as cost and quality just follow this link.

The Steel Staircase Problem

Cosmetic International  employed Woodhouse Contracts of Hatfield as the main contractor on their Watford site. Woodhouse’s requirement was to fit a compliant steel staircase into a limited space between a concrete slab and a proposed new disabled lift and that it be not only a compliant but aesthetically pleasing.

Steel staircase architect drawing
Steel staircase architect drawing

All Metal Solutions was approached to become the sub-contractor to design, build and fit the stairway. We designed several versions as solutions to the problem for comment. After both the Client and main contractor commented and after various further issues were discussed; All Metal Solutions produced a final drawing of the steel staircase for structural approval .

final steel staircase 2Building regulations state that every building must be designed and constructed in such a way that every level can be reached safely by stairs or ramps.

As half of all accidents involving falls within and around buildings occur on stairways, this risk can be greatly reduced by ensuring that any change in level incorporates basic precautions to guard against accident and falls.

Regulation for Steel Stairways and Landings

The effective width is measured between handrails, clear of obstructions. The effective width of our stairway was in accordance with the recommendations of a minimum of 800 mm from one storey to another where a continuous handrail is fitted to both sides of a flight with no more than 16 rises.

final steel staircaseThe design of any pedestrian protective barriers in and around such gaps in any protective barrier should not be large enough to permit a child to pass through. To ensure this, openings in a protective barrier should prevent the passage of a 100 mm diameter sphere. However, the space between a rise in a stair and the lowest edge of the protective barrier may be larger than 100 mm, provided the lowest edge of the barrier is not more than 50 mm above, and parallel to, the pitch line of the stair.

There are more points to be considered of course and we took all the necessary steps at this design stage to ensure we complied.

On approval we manufactured and have since installed the steel staircase as can be seen from the pictures. However, the job is not yet complete. As soon as the builder clears the area we will be installing the glass panels onto the stainless steel handrails.


The problem was to construct and fit a steel stairway with limited space between a concrete slab, a new lift and a main entrance doorway. In addition the client also wanted clear under stair space for storage.

The solution that was eventually put into practice was affected by good old fashioned drawing and drafting works. Delays that occurred in the process caused by planning and client discussions meant  All Metal Solutions had to accommodate a delayed start date of over a month, and to provide a quicker turn round when the go was finally given; demonstrating All Metal Solution’s great flexibility and awareness in our planning and costing.

For more on what we could do for you just follow the link here .