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The basics about stainless steel

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© ISSF 2007

What is stainless steel?

'Stainless' is a term coined early in the development of these steels for cutlery applications. It was adopted as a generic name for these steels and now covers a wide range of steel types and grades for corrosion or oxidation resistant applications.

Stainless steels are iron alloys with a minimum of 10.5% chromium. Other alloying elements are added to enhance their structure and properties such as formability, strength and cryogenic toughness. These include metals such as:

  • Nickel
  • Molybdenum
  • Titanium
  • Copper

Non-metal additions are also made, the main ones being:

  • Carbon
  • Nitrogen

The main requirement for stainless steels is that they should be corrosion resistant for a specified application or environment. The selection of a particular "type" and "grade" of stainless steel must initially meet the corrosion resistance requirements. Additional mechanical or physical properties may also need to be considered to achieve the overall service performance requirements.

 

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