Global Stainless officially began in 2004 by Lincoln Raikes after leaving Robert Stone Engineering (now FNE Engineering) in Hawera. Lincoln had started experimenting with spheres back in 1995. He had always had a dream of starting the business, and his son Bergen gave him the push he needed. Bergen, then 17, was due to leave school and was set on becoming a welder and fabricator like his dad.
For many years Lincoln had the aspiration of creating stainless steel balls with no weld shrinkage, leaving a seamless orb with a mirror-like finish. Over five years he worked on his unique technique to perfect it.
The first five years of the business were tough with little money being made as Lincoln and Bergen experimented with techniques, and worked to promote the business. Eventually connecting with internet pioneer Mick Elmes of Engineeronline, boosted the marketing and from there the 'artistic creations' side of the business took off. Whereas industrial dome fabrication has been part of the business from day one, Lincoln always had the ambition to produce mirror polished spheres for the art world.
Getting the Global Stainless name on the Engineeronline website enabled London-based artist Anish Kapoor to find them. In 2009 the innovative artist was looking for test spheres for work commissioned by the Royal Academy in London. He came across Global Stainless' name and product online and requested a sample. The sample was fabricated and shipped directly to his door. Shortly after, the order for 74 spheres came through and within several months, Global Stainless had doubled its staff to 11 and began much larger scale manufacturing.
Global Stainless fabricated the mirror polished stainless steel balls, packaged them up, and sent them to Auckland where TP Engineering mounted them on three masts with hidden cross bracing giving a weightless appearance. Once assembled, the "Tall Tree and the Eye" sculpture stands 15 metres tall and resembles giant shiny bubbles emerging from the ground.
The stainless steel spheres are made from marine grade stainless, and were manufactured to withstand wind and movement from potential earthquakes. The balls weighed 4 tonnes and the internal structure 7 tonnes.
While being exhibited in London, the work was bought by South Korean clients, however the Guggenheim Museum in Spain had booked it for an exhibition after the show in London, so the South Korean clients waited a year for their own replica to be fabricated. Meanwhile clients from Singapore contracted Global Stainless to produce a sculpture half the size, using only 28 spheres custom built for their location. A fourth model was then commissioned through Anish Kapoor for a private art collector in southern France.
Global Stainless Industrial produces domes for tank ends such as those used in the dairy, transport, and food industries. They also fabricate long radius bends for pipework and ducting used in the production of food and beverages. Their unique manufacturing process allows Global Stainless to produce the bends in a much wider diameter than had previously been available. Both the tank ends and bends are sent throughout New Zealand and Australia.
The initial industrial developments evolved with an early unique method of shaping stainless steel into lightweight pieces. Now industries are demanding domes, half-spheres, and piping with thicker walls. Global Stainless has invested in equipment such as an extra wide hydraulic press and a heavy knuckling machine.
Global Stainless now have a high demand for hemispherical domes which offer a lot smoother contour than conventionally made hemispheres which use a segmented lobster weld. The smooth surface we offer is perfect for avoiding burn on of products often produced in the health, cosmetic and dairy/food industry. This makes them more hygienic and easier to clean.
Global Stainless continues to experience a high demand for mirror polished spheres designed by artists and sculptors, shipping to clients around the world.