Bolt-Together Stainless-Steel: There are stainless-steels, mostly available in sheet-metal, that have less nickel than 304L but that are also more difficult to weld than 304L. Now 304L is available in standard structural shapes but 409, 430, and 444 most often just form simple shapes from sheet metal. So KBH Applications has developed a bolt-together column and beam system using simple shapes formed from 409, 430, or 444.
The Bolt-Together Stainless-Steel System: A column is needed and a beam is needed. Consider a bird's-eye-view and the column is two L-angles bolted together. The first L-angle has legs that point North and East while the second L-angle has legs that point South and East. The bolted surfaces are the East pointing legs. The second L-angle is cut shorter so that the West-end of a West-running rectangular-channel beam in tall cross-section sits on the second L-angle and bolts to the first L-angle. To build up a second-story the first L-angle must be slightly taller than the rectangular-channel beam elevation. To make a corner a third L-angle is bolted to the second L-angle and has legs that point West and South. The bolted surfaces are the South pointing legs. Then the third L-angle is at the same height as the second L-angle. That description makes a northwest building corner with the North-end of a North-running rectangular-channel beam sitting on the third L-angle but reaching to bolt to the first L-angle. Of course continue the build around the perimeter and support the beams at regular intervals as necessary. Two beams butted in-line requires two columns or four L-angles bolted together. So the columns are actually designed and sized as four L-angles bolted together. Then two beams in-line have two of the L-angles cut shorter for the beams to sit-on while a corner has three of the L-angles cut shorter for the beams to sit-on. Furthermore, if the L-angles are not perfectly straight they will pull straight as four L-angles bolted together. Then the L-angle columns must have flat plates where they set in a wet-pour concrete footing or they must attach to a bracket on a concrete footing. The stainless-steel is okay set directly in a wet-pour concrete footing. Finally, small vertical strengtheners can be bolted into the rectangular-channel beams at column locations or small vertical stiffeners can be bolted into the rectangular-channel beams at other locations.
Notes: Any metal that touches the stainless-steel must also be stainless-steel to avoid galvanic corrosion. And any bolt, nut, or washer that touches the stainless-steel must also be stainless-steel. Stainless-steel bolts bought wholesale are often less expensive than galvanized bolts because the galvanized bolts are standard hardened bolts with galvanizing added. Stainless-steel sheet metal is bought on coils and by the pound. However, to bend the stainless-steel into shapes with a brake it must first be flattened. If the stainless-steel were pre-formed into shapes than hopefully it would also have bolting holes pre-formed. Now 409 is the least expensive stainless-steel sheet-metal while 430 and 444 are more expensive. Neither 409 or 430 should be touched with a cut-off disk but can be cut with machine tools. Finally, most 409 alloys are actually popular with welders but many builders would prefer bolting.
More Column Development: In the given example, the second L-angle could instead be a channel with two South-pointing legs while the third L-angle could instead be a channel with two West-pointing legs. If the first L-angle were to be a channel then it would be positioned with two East-pointing legs. If the fourth L-angle were to be a channel then it would be positioned with two North-pointing legs. This positioning allows for the builder drilling their own holes as they build.
Alternate Layout: The beams could have a joist layout instead of a perimeter layout based on corners. For a joist layout, additional lateral connection, square to the joists, is needed between the columns.
KBH Applications: KBH Applications is a software/shareware application development company owned by KBH. The business is structured as a software application consultant. Software licensing is by mail order to the KBH post office box noted in the application. Contact is through the e-mail listing on this web page.