Stainless steel is an iron-based alloy used primarily for its corrosion-resistance capabilities. Various stainless-steel grades are available, which differ in composition, but one key element they all share is a minimum presence of 10.5% percentage of chromium by mass. The addition of nickel and molybdenum also improves the corrosion resistance of the alloy, but chromium is always the deciding factor. Chromium forms an even layer of oxide on its surface which makes it stainless. The high chromium content makes stainless steel resistant to stains and rust.
In the year 1913, Harry Brearley of Sheffield, England, is often credited with the invention of “rustless steel,” but some do not agree with this. He first discovered the true ‘rustless’ steel, which had a 12.8% chromium content. Ernest Stuart had coined the term “stainless steel,” which then entered the general vocabulary. The success of stainless steel in the commercial market is because of its excellent physical and chemical properties. Besides high corrosion resistance, it is also resistant to heat (up to 1200°C [2192°F]), displays exceptional formability, weldability, and durability, and is not susceptible to rusting.
Arch City Steel is a leading distributor of stainless-steel products worldwide for chemical, petrochemical, fertilizer, pulp and paper, food, and other process industries. Over the years, the use of stainless steel has increased significantly because of its outstanding properties. More than 100 grades are now commercially available, which fall under five main groups: austenitic, martensitic, ferritic, duplex, and precipitation hardening. All of these groups contain varying quantities of alloying metals such as nickel, titanium, and copper.
Here are few interesting facts about stainless steel that you should know.
Stainless Steel Today
China very much dominates the world’s steel production. It is the largest producer of stainless steel in the world. The global stainless steel market size was valued at USD 111.4 billion in the year 2019. Between 2020 to 2027, it is expected that the concerned market will witness a CAGR of 6.3% in terms of revenue. Austenitic is arguably the most widely used and popular type of stainless steel. It often consists of chromium and nickel, and the grades within this group include 304 (1.4301) and 316 (1.4404).
Stainless Steel Can Be Magnetic (as per its structure)
While one may consider stainless steel to be non-magnetic, it can show magnetic properties based on its structure. Stainless steel can be classified according to its crystalline structure, as austenitic and ferritic. The presence of chromium and nickel in austenitic stainless steel makes it non-magnetic. However, the ferritic family is magnetic because of the large quantities of ferrite in its chemical composition.
Stainless Steel Is Recyclable
Stainless steel is theoretically 100% recyclable. Hence it is actively recycled on a large scale around the world. Most stainless steel products are recycled once they reach the end of their life. When stainless steel is recycled and melted down, various valuable alloys are extracted and reused, and it does not degrade the performance of this metal. The manufacture of the vast majority of stainless steel is carried out using previously recycled materials. Durability and recyclability are two critical contributions that stainless steel makes to sustainability.
Stainless steel is a versatile material, and the growth of stainless steel is likely to increase because of its sustainability benefits. Hence, because of its various valuable properties, it is expected that stainless steel will increase in the coming times.