Corten steel (often referred to as Cor–Ten) is a weather resistant steel which could more accurately be termed as an "Atmospheric Corrosion Resistant Steel".
It is a copper chromium alloy steel – this alloy displays a greater level of resistance to atmospheric weathering when compared to other unalloyed steels. It's chemical composition promotes the early formation of an adhering protective layer of rust when exposed to the elements.
Weathering refers to the chemical composition of these steels, allowing them to exhibit increased resistance to atmospheric corrosion compared to other steels. This is because the steel forms a protective layer on its surface under the influence of the weather.
The corrosion-retarding effect of the protective layer is produced by the particular distribution and concentration of alloying elements in it. The layer protecting the surface develops and regenerates continuously when subjected to the influence of the weather. In other words, the steel is allowed to rust in order to form the protective coating.
Applications of Corten Steel
Aesthetically pleasing to the eye, this finish has become popular with many high profile architects and has been specified and used in a variety of applications in including building fascias, architectural sculptures and bridges. Examples of Corten structures include...
The Angel of the North (UK)
Matsunoyama Natural Science Museum (Japan)
The Center for Contemporary Art (Australia)
The protective layer constantly develops and regenerates over time, reacting to the pollutants in the atmosphere. Consideration should be made with regard to the thicknesses used especially when the material is utilised for structural rather than solely cosmetic purposes.
Read further on the attributes of Corten Steel