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About Follansbee Steel
Located in Follansbee, West Virginia, Follansbee Steel manufactures the world's most highly corrosion-resistant steel using its patented ZT® alloy. Follansbee Steel materials meet the corrosion resistance needs of the industry, including exterior architectural products, such as roll-formed steel roofing and wall panels.
In an effort to eliminate the requirement of color coating or painting a terne roof in order to ensure its longevity, the development of a stainless steel-based version of terne began in the 1960s by Follansbee Steel. This advancement also prevented the issue of having to cover the soft gray patina that naturally forms on unpainted terne.
In 1968, Follansbee TCS or Terne Coated Stainless first became widely available to the architectural industry. The new material was chrome/nickel stainless, coated on both sides with Follansbee's original terne alloy of 80% lead and 20% tin. The material proved far more durable and corrosion resistant than uncoated chrome/nickel stainless, while forming a beautiful, permanent, uniform and soft gray patina over time. This condition occurred as the alloy coating interacted with airborne pollutants contained in the sulfurous emissions of the ubiquitous industrial smokestacks present at the time.
The history of Follansbee Steel is one of continuous innovation and metallurgic advancement.
Follansbee Steel traces its history to the early 1800s when James Park produced a number of products, including block tin, ingot copper, antimony, sheet zinc, sheet iron, and a highly corrosion resistant tin/lead-plated carbon steel sheet widely used for roofing known as terne roofing or tin roofing.
Enter the Follansbee Brothers
Ownership of the company changed hands to James Scott, and eventually was purchased by John and Robert Follansbee. The outstanding performance and popularity of the terne roof coupled with the brothers' entrepreneurial expertise resulted in a rapid expansion of the newly named company, Follansbee Steel. In 1902, the opening of the Follansbee Steel plant gave rise to the establishment of the City of Follansbee, West Virginia.
Divestment and Growth
In 1954, the Louis Berkman Company purchased Follansbee and sold all of its basic steel production operations to Wheeling Steel. Follansbee retained its best-selling terne steel sheet and continued to improve it over decades.
A Favorite Material of the Master: Frank Lloyd Wright
It was during this period that American architect Frank Lloyd Wright wrote about the many excellent material characteristics of Follansbee Steel terne:
"Imaginative new conception in architecture can frequently trace their origin to a basically simple idea. One of the oldest types of roofing, terne metal, thus lends itself to many dramatic new applications in the contemporary idiom. Because of its inherent adaptability in both form and color, terne permits the visible roof area to become a significant part of the structural design. Thus by rediscovering and re-interpreting a time-tested material, we make out of the very old the very new. I have furthermore found terne superior to other roofing metals in economy, color-adherence, heat-reflection, permanence, workability, and low coefficient of expansion."
- Frank Lloyd Wright
Reformulating for a Greener Tomorrow.
Throughout the 1970s and 80s, the popularity of Follansbee's terne coated carbon and stainless steel products continued to grow. However, during this time period architects began to notice a marked increase in the time it took for Follansbee's unpainted TCS (terne coated stainless) to develop its signature gray patina. What used to take a year to two years, now extended four, five, or six years. Follansbee metallurgists determined that the increasing time for patina development was a direct result of increasingly cleaner air throughout the US. The once plentiful sulfurous emissions of industry could no longer be relied upon as a catalyst for the development of the material's patina.
Also, during this time period, the potential health and environmental hazards associated with lead were beginning to be fully understood. And the 1972 introduction of an aluminum/zinc alloy coating for steel – though not superior in corrosion resistance to Follansbee's alloy – began to exert a competitive pressure on Follansbee Steel's terne. It was time for Follansbee Steel to reformulate its now century old alloy.
The Advent of ZT® Alloy.
In 1998, Follansbee Steel introduced its newly reformulated terne coating, ZT alloy. This marked the culmination of seven years of research, development, experimentation and testing by a team headed by one of the world's most distinguished metallurgists.
The new alloy – a blend of zinc, tin and other trace elements – eliminates hazardous lead and provides key advantages over Follansbee's previous alloy. Unlike its lead-based predecessor that required sulfurous emissions to form the legendary patina, ZT alloy forms its soft gray patina by reacting with oxygen, and ensures a predictable time to form its patina. ZT alloy's extensive accelerated corrosion-resistance testing also proves its ultimate superiority over its predecessor, as well as other popular aluminum/zinc alloy coatings for steel.
Follansbee Steel introduced the newly improved alloy to the architectural market in the 1990s under the product names Terne II® for the carbon steel sheet and TCS II® for the stainless steel version.
Factory Color-Coated Cool Roof Terne.
Significant advancements in color coating technology, in combination with the advancements in protective alloy coatings for steel, helped to usher in a renaissance in metal roofing. Now, architects or contractors could specify a carbon steel roof delivered from the factory with a color coating, and eliminate the need for the roof to be painted post-installation.
In response to increasing demand for pre-painted steel roofing, the turn of the millennium saw the introduction of pre-painted terne, as Follansbee Steel's new KlassicKolors® material was introduced at this time. KlassicKolors is ZT alloy coated carbon steel that has been factory coated with a high-performance solar-reflective color coating in order to create a certified Cool Roof. The KlassicKolors standard palette was designed by an architectural historian to specifically mimic the look of the historical tin roofs of colonial America.
The Miracle of Micro-embossing
The early 2000s saw a resurgence in the use of zinc plate in architectural applications. Although a less-than-ideal material for corrosive environments, zinc plate did provide an advantage over TCS II when it came to aesthetics. Unlike TCS II, which takes time to lose its reflectivity and to fully develop its soft matte gray patina, zinc provides this aesthetic instantly. Therefore, it provides an architect's clients instant visual gratification.
To better compete aesthetically with zinc plate, Follansbee introduced a new form of TCS II called TCS II Satin® in the mid-2000s. This product is a version of TCS II with a finish that is far less reflective and far more uniform, direct from the factory. This reduced reflectivity is produced by non-directionally micro-embossing TCS II so that the sunlight reflecting off its surface is refracted and diffused. This process does not affect the efficacy of the material's protective ZT alloy coating.
With Follansbee Steel's introduction of TCS II Satin, architects could now provide clients with the ultimate in corrosion protection along with instant visual appeal.
An Eye On the Future
Follansbee Steel materials are found on many of the world's most important works of architecture, including government buildings, schools, and universities, churches and cathedrals, airports, historical preservation projects, and countless other commercial and high-end residential structures. The powerful corrosion resistance capability of Follansbee materials is leveraged well by the architectural products industry and proven through its real world architectural applications. However, Follansbee recognizes an untold number of other industries that can benefit from its materials and welcomes inquiries from OEMs. Follansbee is committed to providing any technical assistance to OEMs wishing to explore its product's many beneficial properties.
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