Friday, 12 June 2015

What is Stainless Steel?

Utilized in every field from modern architecture to healthcare, stainless steel is one of the most versatile and capable materials in existence. It is a steel alloy, or in plain terms, a material comprising multiple types of metals into a single compound. Although the name suggests otherwise, stainless steel is not truly resistant to all forms of staining. However there are various grades, each of which suited to different types of environments and applications.

Early alloys introduced in countries such as Germany and France meet today’s definition of stainless steel in terms of material makeup, although the label was not applied for decades after. In the year 1912, Harry Brearley of Sheffield, England discovered and industrialized what is known as a martensitic stainless steel while searching for a suitable material to use for gun barrels which would resist corrosion.

When it is strengthened, martensitic steel is ideal for use in the medical field, such as for scalpels and other surgical implements.The revolutionary material took off in the early 1920s, marketed under several names including “Nirosta steel” and “unstainable steel”.In the following decades, the name would be standardized and the numerous uses for stainless steel would skyrocket.

One can find the material just about everywhere these days, including kitchenware, jewelry, and innumerable hardware applications. Different types and grades each lend themselves to different uses.
For example, the famous Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri is wrapped in type 304 stainless steel which offers exceptional resilience even when welded and molded.

The 304 type of stainless steel is also called 18-8, a reference to its composition which includes 18 percent chromium as well as 8 percent nickel materials. Other types incorporate varying amounts of many different types of metals, from carbon to nickel to molybdenum. Where a material such as carbon would lend additional hardness for creating tools and similar goods, nickel is utilized more for improved resistance to stress-related and corrosion cracking at low temperatures, such as for making jewelry.

While highly resistant to rust and staining, the name stainless steel is slightly misleading. Environments where air circulation is poor or saline content is high (such as near seawater) can result in stains and corrosion, although selecting an appropriate grade and type of alloy can improve performance. Different types of surface finishes can also enhance protection for certain applications.

Overall, stainless steel alloys represent some of the most widely-used and versatile materials available across all production industries. It provides great strength, resilience against many common threats to standard metals, and relatively low cost in relation to benefits. For more information regarding stainless steel recycling in San Jose, please visit this website.

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