Stainless steel is an alloy of iron that contains at least 11% chromium. Other elements that may make up the alloy are varying percentages of carbon, nickel, manganese, and molybdenum. In addition, stainless steel alloys may also contain silicon, copper, and sulfur. Stainless steel is resistant to corrosion, has an innate cleanability that exceeds aluminum and copper, and is more malleable and less prone to shattering than iron from which it is derived. These properties make it a valuable and desired raw material in countless industries.
What are the different grades of stainless steel?
Stainless steel grades are figures used to classify various steel by its composition and physical properties. Some of the qualities measured are tensile strength and malleability. There are more than a hundred different grades of stainless steel, but the most common ones are 304 stainless steel, also known as 18-8 stainless steel and 316 stainless steel and its low carbon version. The 316L stainless steel can avoid carbide precipitation or corrosion due to welding. In addition, high-performance stainless steels such as 420 stainless steel and 440 stainless steel are also available and widely used, but at a relatively higher cost.
What are the different uses for stainless steel?
It is difficult to imagine alternative materials to stainless steel that can balance the industry’s need for a material that is hard but at the same time malleable and cheap but endlessly recyclable. Due to these properties, one can find stainless steel being used everywhere, from the smallest handheld items to gigantic ships and buildings. Stainless steel rods can be forged, tempered, and machined into items such as stainless steel bolts, screws, and shafts. They can be turned into forged steel knives and razor blades. Stainless steel mesh makes up anything from strainers to barbeque grills, even to fences. Stainless steel tubing and stainless steel pipe are great for piping corrosive fluids around or as structural members for race car roll cages. Finally, stainless steel sheets can be utilized for car body panels, heavy-duty kitchen equipment, and premium utensils such as pots, pans, and trays.