Refrigerators, sinks, cutlery, doorknobs, and tailpipes — what do these things all have in common? They are stainless steel products. This useful metal alloy has many desirable aesthetic and practical qualities. The question nobody thinks to ask, however, is what is stainless steel? Let’s find out the answer.
What Is Stainless Steel?
The simplest answer to this is that stainless steel is an iron alloy containing at least 10.5% Chromium, as well as fluctuating amounts of Carbon, Silicon, and Manganese depending on what the alloy will be used for. Since it is an iron alloy, it is also a ferrous metal. Digging deeper, we find that the Chromium in this alloy creates a passive layer, giving stainless steel its corrosion resistance and characteristic reflectiveness.
Adding elements like Molybdenum and Nickel will change the composition of stainless steel so that it may become more corrosion-resistant, or more formable for certain stainless steel products. So, outside of common home decor, what are some stainless steel uses?
Different Stainless Steel Uses
Of the many stainless steel grades, the most common is 304. This alloy is made from 18% Chromium and 8% Nickel, making it highly workable for welding, and even more rust and tarnish resistant. As a result, it is popular in many industries.
The electrical enclosure industry prefers this stainless steel for its corrosion resistance. So does the auto industry, which uses this alloy for exhaust manifolds. It is also used to make hose clamps, which could rust if the wrong metal is chosen, storage vessels, piping, and most stainless hardware and tools.
Other compositions of stainless steel are used to make marine propellers and equipment, chemical handling equipment, swimming pool accessories, and heat-sensitive fabrication tools.
There are a great many uses for stainless steel that we are able to take advantage of. Whenever corrosion resistance, aesthetics, and ease of fabrication are top priorities, there is a stainless steel alloy for the job. If you would like to learn more about stainless steel, or if you have questions about which alloy is right for your project, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.