Boosting the success of the growing US and Mexico tank industry with corrosion-resistant stainless steel

The US and Mexico market for stainless steel tanks is growing fast. Currently tank manufacturing makes up a very significant proportion of the total demand for stainless steel under the USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement). And this is expected to grow even further by the end of the decade. Outokumpu is committed to enabling this growth with our comprehensive range, North American manufacturing capability and industry-leading technical support and services. 

Stainless steel is the ideal material for a wide variety of process tanks, mixing tanks, cryogenic tanks and storage tanks. It is used in the dairy, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, brewery, chemical processing, and cosmetics manufacturing industries due to its corrosion resistance.

This provides the double benefit of protecting product purity while providing a long service life. Furthermore, stainless steel is readily cleaned, which is a key factor for most industries and especially important for hygiene in food processing and handling. Stainless steel is also strong and can be formed into tanks and vessels.

An increasingly important benefit of stainless steel is its sustainability. Not only does its durability ensure that it will last a long time, but it is also totally recyclable at the end of its life. In fact, Outokumpu's own production has the highest share of recycled content in the market, at over 90%.

Two key facilities – Calvert and Mexinox – for technical expertise and assistance

Outokumpu’s Calvert site in Alabama is America’s most technically advanced stainless steel production unit. It includes melting, casting and cold rolling with a customized state-of-the-art finishing line that offers polishing, slitting and cut to length.

In San Luis Potosí, Outokumpu Mexinox is Mexico’s only stainless steel finishing mill. It produces coil, sheets, circles and plate materials. With a wide range of gauge material, tailored finishing services include slitting, cut to length, blanking, laser cutting and a variety of surface finishes.

Mexinox also operates a certified laboratory to evaluate both the mechanical and chemical properties of stainless steel. A team of technical experts is also ready to assist with production and material selection as well as with training and testing.person working in mill standing in front of stainless steel coil

Increase productivity with the widest coils in the industry

Four main austenitic stainless steel grades are used by the American tank industry – the bulk is made up of Core 304/4301 and Core 304L/4307, while Supra 316/4401 and 316L/4404 account for a few percent. A small amount is Supra 316LN/4429 for cryogenic applications.

Outokumpu’s North American mills can deliver a variety of surface finishes and polishes to suit the specific needs of the tank application. The most popular type of mill finish used for stainless steel tanks is No. 2B, as designated by ASTM. This is characterized by a smooth and slightly reflective surface.

A key reason why tank fabricators and OEMs select Outokumpu’s stainless steel is the comprehensive scope of product forms on offer, including coils, sheets and plates. Outokumpu is also the only USA producer of 72-inch coils. Wider coils can increase productivity by reducing the number of welds required to fabricate the complete tank. Stainless steel tanks outside

Find the perfect stainless steel grade and finish for your tank application

Jack Spooner, New Product Development Manager for Outokumpu's US operations says that

"The most important advice I can offer to anyone selecting a material for a tank is to remember that all stainless steels are not the same. It is vital for the grade and finish to match the end user’s application."

In many cases 304, that is generally considered the standard grade, will be just fine. But there are some processes, such as where sulfuric acid is present, that need a higher level of corrosion resistance, so a grade such as 304L will be specified. 

Apart from selecting the appropriate grades, there are also special finishes available to cater to specific applications and requirements. For instance, in food-grade stainless steel applications, achieving a finish at the high end of No. 4 (identified by short, parallel lines) is considered suitable. The surface roughness average (Ra) is typically achieved using a high-grit abrasive in the range of 150-220. However, for dairy applications, where hygiene is even more critical, an alternate finish is recommended, achieved using a 220-grit abrasive or finer. 

Enrique "Henry" Zaldivar, Technical Solutions Manager, also says that

"We are always happy to offer extensive technical support to ensure that customers get the best out of our stainless steel, all the way from design and fabrication and throughout a long lifecycle. I'd like to urge anyone considering stainless steel for their tank application to come to us for advice, whether they are purchasing directly or through a distributor or wholesaler. It’s an integral part of our commitment to collaboration - with the aim of boosting the success of the fast-growing tank business in the Americas."

By drawing on Outokumpu’s experience in the US and Mexico tank industry you can ensure that the stainless steel you select is the optimal solution in terms of safety, reliability, sustainability and cost-effectiveness.


Download the Expert Guide

For more information about Outokumpu stainless steels download our Expert Guide for tank fabricators

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Locations Americas

Read more about Outokumpu locations 

Calvert, Alabama, USA
San Luis Potosí, Mexico