Stainless steel is an iron and chromium alloy. While stainless must contain at least 10.5% chromium, The components and ratios will vary based on the grade requested and the intended use of the steel. The steel also contains varied amounts of other elements such as Carbon, Silicon and Manganese. Other elements can be added to increase corrosion resistance (Nickel) and formability (Molybdenum).
Applications include food handling/processing, medical instruments, hardware, appliances, and structural/architectural uses.
While there are thousands of different types of stainless steel alloy that can be produced, most alloys will fall into one of the following three categories.
There are two main characteristics of this type of stainless steel. First, there is a lot of chromium included during the production of austenitic stainless steel. Items produced with this material are more corrosion-resistant. Second, these items tend to be non-magnetic, although they can become magnetic with a cold forming process. These are the most common types of stainless steel alloys.
This type of stainless steel is the second most common type of alloy and is also magnetic. Items produced with this alloy can be hardened through cold forming and also tend to be less expensive than other types due to the lower nickel content.
This material is the least common type of stainless steel alloy. Martensitic stainless steel is used in applications where high tensile strength is needed or a lot of impact resistance. In many cases, this material is also combined with a protective polymer coating to improve corrosion-resistance
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