Archive: Oct 2021

A Guide to Stainless Steel Tank Fabrication

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Highland Equipment has been building unmatched stainless steel tanks and equipment for various sanitary process applications since 1973. As the leading provider of sanitary process equipment, Highland Equipment has the tools and experience needed for various tank projects, from one-tank requirements, complex pressure vessels, skidded systems, and custom equipment to a host of customized tank projects. Our team of experts has the knowledge and professional background to provide custom solutions for all your equipment needs.

Overview of Stainless Steel Tanks

Sanitary stainless steel tanks are special containers used to store and transport a myriad of substances such as water, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, personal care, cosmetics,  and other bulk materials. They feature superior flexibility and ease of use that make them ideal for various industries and applications. Stainless steel tanks are also known for their corrosion resistance and their ability to resist extreme temperatures. These attributes make stainless tanks the best equipment for storing sensitive materials. 

Stainless Steel Capabilities

Stainless steel tanks come with either a drum-like, rectangular, or cylindrical shape with thin walls made of stainless steel material. The stainless steel tanks offered by Highland Equipment are equipped with heat transfer capabilities to meet the needs of your specific applications. 

Depending on your objectives, our experienced engineering team and technicians can also equip the tanks with mixing components that come in various sizes. We also offer a range of atmospheric tanks that allow our clients to choose from different options, including dished tops and bottoms, flat tops and bottoms, and/or conical tops and bottoms. 

We can also custom-make your exact specifications for your stainless tank depending on several factors, including your specific application, the product to be stored, how often the tank must be cleaned, and other considerations.

Stainless Steel Mixing Tank Fabrication

Stainless steel comes in different grades designed to handle various substances and chemicals. These grades offer varying levels of corrosion resistance, strength, toughness, and high/low-temperature performance. During the fabrication of stainless steel, the following grades are widely utilized:

  • 304/304L: Stainless steel 304 comprises 18 to 20% chromium, 8 to 11% nickel, and 2% manganese. It offers adequate corrosion resistance for most applications. It is also less costly compared to other options.
  • 316/316L: 316/316L comprises 6 to 18% chromium, 10 to 14% nickel, 2 to 3% molybdenum, and 2% manganese. The addition of molybdenum adds an extra layer of corrosion resistance to make 316/316L more resistant to chemicals than stainless steel 304. 
  • Duplex: Duplex stainless steel is a blend of ferritic and austenitic metallurgical structures. It contains 20 to 28% chromium, 2 to 5% molybdenum, and 5 to 8% nickel. Austenitic stainless steel is superior to ferritic in terms of corrosion resistance and mechanical properties.

Highland Equipment provides end-to-end stainless steel tank fabrication solutions from equipment design and manufacturing to system integration, installation, and ongoing technical support. We practice comprehensive quality control throughout all phases of fabrication, and our team undertakes extensive weld inspections to guarantee flawless joints. We leverage our premier fabrication shop fitted with the latest technologies and tools to provide high-quality orbital welding services. 

Industries/Applications that Use Stainless Steel Mixing Tanks

Stainless Steel Mixing Tanks are a common sight dotting the landscape across the country. They are integral equipment among several industries that need dependable containers to store and transport substances. As mentioned earlier, stainless steel resists corrosion and extreme temperatures. It is also easy to clean and disinfect. These attributes make stainless steel ideal for a range of applications. Some of the industries that leverage stainless steel tanks to store valuable materials and substances include:

  • Dairy
  • Food and beverage
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Brewery 
  • Cosmetics manufacturing

At Highland Equipment, we apply a range of finishes to your stainless steel to guarantee optimal performance. Stainless steel is usually smooth and slightly reflective, but there are instances where its surfaces are brushed or bead blasted. The varying roughness calls for surface finishes to prevent moisture retention and material adhesion. Some of the stainless steel tank surface finishes that we apply include mill finish, mechanical finishes, electropolished, and more.

Highland Equipment Solutions

At Highland Equipment, we have the resources, capabilities, and tools to complete any of your stainless steel tank fabrication projects both in our workshop and in the field. As the industry leader in the design, fabrication, installation, and service of stainless steel process equipment, Highland Equipment is committed to providing exactly what you need, when you need it, and even where you need it. Contact us today to request a quote.

Considerations for the Custom Sales and Consultation Process

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For nearly 50 years, Highland Equipment Inc. has provided stainless steel design and installation of sanitary process equipment for clients in a range of industries, including pharmaceutical, food and beverage, cannabis, cosmetics, brewing, and more. From complex pressure vessels to skidded systems and a variety of customized tanks and equipment, we approach each project with the personalized attention it requires and deserves. 

Every application is different, which is why they all require consideration of an array of factors when choosing your stainless steel grade, design, and more. When you request a quote for a custom solution, you should be specific about what you need. Here are the primary considerations:

An Overview of the Design Process

Our in-house engineering team collaborates with you on the stainless steel storage tank design that best suits your application. They work to meet ASME Section VIII Div. 1 Code and other industry standards while ensuring your design is both safe and cost-effective. In our years of experience, we’ve designed and constructed vessels of up to 18 feet in diameter and more than 65 feet in length.

The right design requires consideration not only of the size and shape you need, but how it fits in the space, how it can be accessed for maintenance and repair, and what environmental conditions it will face. You’ll need to choose a stainless steel grade based on machinability, corrosion resistance, and more. 

Grade Selection

Stainless steel is prized for its strength and durability, but different grades of steel offer different qualities. You’ll need to consider these factors:

  • Machinability: Stainless steel in general isn’t as machinable as some other metals, but grades Ugima 304 and Ugima 316 were developed to be more machinable without losing formability and corrosion resistance. 
  • Corrosion Resistance: Grades 303 and 416 offer enhanced machinability, but some corrosion resistance is lost. Grade 316 is a common choice for applications where corrosion resistance is of the utmost importance. 
  • Formability: Austenitic and ferritic stainless steels, like 304 or 430, are commonly chosen for their formability. Martensitic steels, on the other hand, are more brittle. 
  • Weldability: Stainless steel welders face challenges like intergranular corrosion, hot cracking, and stress corrosion cracking; austenitic grades 304L or 347 and ferritic grades 430 or 439 are typically the best options for successful welding. 

Corrosion Resistance

Stainless steel is an alloy of iron and at least 10.5% chromium. Its corrosion resistance comes from passivation: the metal is not responsive to oxidation because of the thin film of chromium oxides that forms at the surface. The passivation process includes exposing the stainless steel to the air, submerging it in a bath of nitric acid, removing contaminants, and neutralizing it in aqueous sodium hydroxide.

Different grades of stainless steel get their qualities from different amounts of chromium and additional materials, like nickel, manganese, or titanium. Molybdenum is often added for additional corrosion resistance, but that will make the stainless steel more brittle, requiring additional nickel to reduce that brittleness. 

Welding Considerations

Specific types of welds are used depending on the desired results. Orbital welding, for example, is an automated process that is highly precise and reliable. Fusion orbital welding, or automatic GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding), is an orbital welding process where the settings stay the same for the entire weld. Another option is wire feed orbital welding (or semi-automatic GTAW), commonly used for applications with thick wall pipes or materials that require fillers.

Some industries, such as food and beverage, dairy, brewing, medical, and others, require sanitary welding that meets stringent standards. These welds are inspected to ensure they are:

  • Smooth and impervious
  • Free of cracks and crevices
  • Nonporous and nonabsorbent
  • Non-contaminating
  • Inert
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Durable and maintenance-free
  • Nontoxic
  • Cleanable

At Highland Equipment, we offer steel tank design and engineering, fabrication, installation, orbital welding, passivation, inspections, and more. With years of experience serving diverse industries, our team of professionals can help you with the many considerations required for your custom project. Contact us if you have any questions or request a quote today.