In August 2013, BlueScope Steel made the announcement that they were going to replace their classic Zincalume® with an updated next generation version. The previous generation of Zincalume® was known as Zincalume® steel AZ150. The latest is Zincalume® steel AM125.
The latest version of Zincalume® has added magnesium to the zinc/aluminium coating, with a reduced coat. This new product is aided by cutting edge Activate™ technology.
The History of Zincalume® Steel
Prior to the release of BlueScope’s Zincalume® steel, most steel roofs were constructed using some form of galvanised steel. However, once it was released in 1976, Zincalume® overshadowed the market with its vastly improved durability, longevity and corrosion resistance.
Over 17 years, BlueScope have tested over 5000 panels a variety of laboratory and real-world environments. In addition to these tested panels, over 50 building sites and 5 purpose built test structures have been made – these include extreme marine environments. As a result of these tests, steel consumers can be sure they are getting a more resilient and durable product.
What is Zincalume® Steel Made Of
Traditional zinc coating provides specific electrochemical protection, this product is known as galvanised steel. Zincalume® AZ150 uses an enhanced formula consisting of Aluminium (55%), Zinc (43.5%) and Silicon (1.5%). This tough barrier protects the inner steel core against rust and corrosion.
Next Generation Zincalume® AM125, however, adds magnesium (2%) to this chemical mix, resulting in an even tougher protective outer layer.
What is Activate™ Technology?
The result of Activate™ Technology is more effective corrosion resistance. Research into steel has found that 2% magnesium is the optimum level for corrosion integrity and performance.
Two layers of strategically placed magnesium compounds provide a protective barrier against corrosion. As a result, the self-sealing Activate™ Technology provides great long-term protection.
Next generation Zincalume® lasts up to four times longer than typical galvanised steel, and is available only through BlueScope Steel. The warranty of the latest Zincalume® steel has an added six years of warranty (up to 36 years) compared to its predecessor.
Zincalume® AM125’s Lowered Environmental Impact
Compared to the original Zincalume® steel AZ150, next generation Zincalume® has scored significantly better in all 18 categories of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Dramatic reductions in toxicity, climate impact, metal depletion, fossil depletion and freshwater eco-toxicity, make Zincalume® steel AM125 a much more environmentally sustainable option.
Overall, next generation Zincalume® has a 10-15% smaller environmental footprint compared to earlier AZ150 according to tests consistent with the Building Products Innovation Council methodology.
The Pros and Cons of Next Generation Zincalume® AM125
The cost of Next Generation Zincalume® matches its predecessor, making it a higher quality product at the same price. Its incredible design flexibility makes it an exceptional choice for any construction or design project.
As Colorbond® steel is simply factory painted Zincalume®, all Colorbond® steel now comes with an extra six years of added warranty.
Zincalume® works exceptionally with roofing and wall panels, however, it provides about as much protection as regular galvanised steel when used to store rainwater, or in other similar marine environments.
- The material should be clear of the ground and protects from rain and moisture prior to install.
- Carbon-black should be avoided, for example, with washers used or black carbon (‘lead’) pencils that might be used for marking sheets.
- Lead and copper, treated timber, uncoated steel, fertilisers, pesticides and abrasive cleaners can cause corrosion (Important: ZINCALUME® steel is incompatible with lead and copper).
- Galvanised gutters, roofing and steel cannot be used in conjunction with the steel or corrosion will occur.
- Avoid immersion in concrete, soil or water, or debris build-up against the product.
For use in things, such as water tanks, a carefully prepared poly lining is required. Unfortunately, as the tank fills, the liner becomes pressed up against the inside steel wall. Moisture then condenses between the liner and the tank wall, leading to corrosion.
Despite these drawbacks, Zincalume® has excellent forming capabilities and is incredibly versatile for design purposes. Zincalume® also has superior long-term surface appearance compared to other similar metallic coated steel products. Unlike other forms of metallic coated steel, Zincalume® provides uniform weathering over time.