7 Facts About Stainless Steel

Stainles steel handwheel by Monroe

Stainless steel is one of the world’s most widely used materials. While available in different types, all stainless steel consists of iron mixed with other metallic and/or non-metallic elements. The presence of these additional elements protects stainless steel from rust. Here are seven facts about stainless steel.

#1) Recyclable

Stainless steel is 100% recyclable. There’s no loss of material or quality during the recycling process. When stainless steel is recycled, it’s typically shredded and then smelted down, at which point the iron and other elements are separated from each other.

#2) Also Known as Inox

Stainless steel is also known as “inox.” This is a reference to the French word “inoxydable,” meaning “stainless” or “rustproof.” Stainless steel, of course, differs from high-carbon steel with its rustproof properties. It contains a high concentration of carbon that protects the iron within it from oxidation. Oxidation is what causes rust. With a high concentration of carbon, stainless steel won’t rust.

#3) Adjustable Corrosion Resistance

The corrosion resistance of stainless steel can be adjusted during production. Adding nitrogen to stainless steel, for instance, will increase its resistance to corrosion. Increasing the chromium content of stainless steel beyond 11% will also better protect it from corrosion. Stainless steel is naturally protected against corrosion, but nitrogen and chromium can further protect it from corrosion.

#4) Over a Dozen Finishes

Stainless steel is available in over a dozen finishes. ASTM International recognizes the #0 finish type as being hot-rolled and annealed with thicker plates, and it recognizes the #8 finish type as being a mirror finish.

#5) Commonly Joined With Welding

There are many different ways to join stainless steel. The most common method, however, is welding. Welding is a fabrication process that involves the use of heat to melt and fuse multiple objects together. Using a welding torch, you can melt two or more stainless steel objects. As they heat up, they will fuse together.

#6) Over 150 Grades

In addition to over a dozen finishes, stainless steel is available in over 150 grades. There are grades for ferritic stainless steel, such as 405, 409, 430, 434 and 436. There are also grades for martensitic stainless steel, such as 403, 410, 414 and 416. And there are grades for austenitic stainless steel, such as 301, 302, 304, 310 and 316.

#7) Heat Resistant

Stainless steel isn’t just resistant to corrosion; it’s resistant to heat. Many types of austenitic stainless steel, for instance, can withstand temperatures of over 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit.

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