Stainless steel is a steel alloy that contains a minimum of 10.5% to 11% chromium content and a maximum of 1.2% carbon. It is made by melting elements together, typically iron ore, chromium, nickel, carbon, and others, and then casting the materials into a solid steel. The steel is passed through a series of forming machines, depending on the desired shape of the stainless steel, and then the material is annealed, descaled, and cut in the desired size. Before it is complete, surface finishes are added to make the material smooth and easy to clean.
Steel alloys are considered stainless steel if the material has specified corrosion or oxidation resistant properties. Different grades of stainless steel offer different levels of corrosion resistance, depending on their chromium content.
Alro Steel offers a wide selection of stainless steel grades to meet all of your application needs.
Properties of Stainless Steel
Stainless steel does not readily corrode, rust or stain with water as ordinary steel does, but despite the name it is not fully stain-proof, most notably under low oxygen, high salinity, or poor circulation environments. It is also called corrosion-resistant steel or CRES when the alloy type and grade are not detailed, particularly in the aviation industry.
Stainless steel differs from carbon steel by the amount of chromium present. Unprotected carbon steel rusts readily when exposed to air and moisture. This iron oxide film (the rust) is active and accelerates corrosion by forming more iron oxide, and due to the greater volume of the iron oxide this tends to flake and fall away.
Stainless steels contain sufficient chromium to form a passive film of chromium oxide, which prevents further surface corrosion and blocks corrosion from spreading into the metal's internal structure, and due to the similar size of the steel and oxide ions they bond very strongly and remain attached to the surface.
Benefits of Stainless Steel
Because of how many grades of stainless steel are available, the material can be used for many different applications and industries. Stainless steel offers a variety of benefits over other metals, depending on the intended application. These include:
Stain and Corrosion Resistance: The addition of chromium to stainless steel creates an invisible layer of chromium oxide that protects against stain and corrosion.
Heat and Fire Resistance: High-chromium and nickel-alloyed grades of stainless steel resist scaling and perform well at high temperatures.
Strength-to-Weight: High strength grades of stainless steel provide added strength in thinner material, allowing less material to be used for the same applications. Depending on application requirements, this can make these grades of stainless steel a cost-effective alternative to other metals.
100% Recyclable: Stainless steel can be re-melted and remolded, making it completely recyclable. Like many metals, this makes stainless steel an environmentally-friendly material.
Appearance and Cleanliness: One of the most appealing characteristics of stainless steel is its clean appearance. It is an easy-to-clean, easy-to-maintain metal that provides an aesthetically appealing design for many applications.
Common Uses of Stainless Steel
In addition to being low maintenance and corrosion-resistant, stainless steel is also available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Its versatility means that it can be used in a variety of industries. Alro Steel produces stainless steel in:
- Structural stainless steel
- Stainless steel expanded metal
The variety of available shapes makes stainless steel ideal for many manufacturing applications, but it is also used in many other industries, from construction to transportation. Industries that utilize stainless steel include: