50 grades of stainless steel

The BSSA has selected 50 Grades of Stainless Steel as its theme for 2014. Each week throughout the year, we will showcase one grade and illustrate the variety of corrosion resistant, mechanical and physical properties which determine its suitability for a wide range of applications.



1.4003 S40977

Dennis Eagle Elite 2 Refuse Vehicle

Dennis Eagle Elite 2 Refuse Vehicle   

Courtesy of Dennis Eagle

Painted electrical enclosure

Painted Electrical Enclosure


Developed originally as 3CR12 in South Africa, 1.4003 is a low cost stainless steel used as a cost effective substitute for galvanised and painted carbon steels. It is sometimes termed a “utility ferritic” grade.

Approximate Composition – 11% Cr 0.5% Ni (Exact composition ranges vary between EN and ASTM standards).

This grade combines the following characteristics:

•    Basic corrosion resistance (lowest grade classed as stainless steel)
•    Composition balanced to give good weldability in thick sections in contrast to other ferritic grades
•    Moderate impact toughness
•    Moderate wear resistance
•    Low cost

Many applications require some degree of corrosion resistance without needing to maintain an aesthetic appearance. The key property is to maintain section thickness rather than “looking the part”. The grade was originally developed to serve the mining industry in South Africa where large amounts were used for handling ores in the form of wagons, hoppers and chutes. The basic corrosion resistance, wear resistance, weldability and low cost provided a winning combination. In some applications the steel is painted to provide additional corrosion resistance.

Applications have expanded to a wide range since the initial development to include:

Coach frames, minibus chassis, sugar beet handling, malting vessels, electrical enclosures, fuel tanks, chimneys, refuse vehicles, fertiliser storage, rail wagons, conveying equipment for dry material, lintels, laboratory work surfaces

1.4003 is the lowest cost stainless steel. Provided aesthetic appearance is not an issue, it provides a good solution. Care needs to be exercised in using it as a substitute for higher grades on cost grounds alone.

Find out more about the 50 Grades of Stainless Steel campaign

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