Engineering Metal Materials: Stainless Steel
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Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a generic term for a family of corrosion resistant alloy steels containing 10.5% or more chromium.

All stainless steels have a high resistance to corrosion. This resistance to attack is due to the naturally occurring chromium-rich oxide film formed on the surface of the steel. Although extremely thin, this invisible, inert film is tightly adherent to the metal and extremely protective in a wide range of corrosive media.

The film is rapidly self-repairing in the presence of oxygen, and damage by abrasion, cutting or machining is quickly repaired.

Corrosion resistance

All stainless steels have a high resistance to corrosion. Low alloyed grades resist corrosion in atmospheric conditions; highly alloyed grades can resist corrosion in most acids, alkaline solutions, and chloride bearing environments, even at elevated temperatures and pressures.

High and low temperature resistance

Some grades will resist scaling and maintain high strength at very high temperatures, while others show exceptional toughness at cryogenic temperatures.

Ease of fabrication

The majority of stainless steels can be cut, welded, formed, machined and fabricated readily.

Strength

The cold work hardening properties of many stainless steels can be used in design to reduce material thicknesses and reduce weight and costs. Other stainless steels may be heat treated to make very high strength components.

Aesthetic appeal

Stainless steel is available in many surface finishes. It is easily and simply maintained resulting in a high quality, pleasing appearance.

Hygienic properties

The cleanability of stainless steel makes it the first choice in hospitals, kitchens, food and pharmaceutical processing facilities.

Life cycle characteristics

Stainless steel is a durable, low maintenance material and is often the least expensive choice in a life cycle cost comparison.

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