I know you are probably wondering why stainless steel (SS) is a popular material across many global industries. You will find at least one stainless steel item in the home appliances, electronics, automotive or medical industries.
But why is stainless steel a popular material?
Take a look:
1. Stainless Steel Meets Most Application Needs in Virtually Industries
Nearly any industry has at least one or more components made from stainless steel material.
Take, for example:
|Stainless Steel Application||Best Material Grade|
|Pump shafts and fasteners||400 SS (Martensitic)|
|Machine parts and equipment for the food industry||304 SS & 316 SS|
|Cooking appliances||400 SS (Ferritic)|
|Chemical equipment and structural equipment||300 series (Austenitic)|
|Gears and valves||Precipitation hardening|
|Pressure vessels for offshore||Duplex steel|
You can use stainless steel in virtually all industries. From medical, home appliances, automotive, aerospace to food processing industries – they depend on stainless steel material.
Types of Stainless Steel – Resource: KDMFAB
What is Stainless Steel – Resource: KDMFAB
2. Excellent Rust or Corrosion Resistance in Virtually all Environments
Under normal circumstances, stainless steel materials neither rust nor corrode.
The chromium quantity in the stainless steel will determine the degree of rust or corrosion resistance.
Let’s look at this:
High-alloyed SS (high chromium content) can resist corrosion in “harsh” conditions such as seawater, alkaline, and acidic environments. This is not the case for SS with low chromium content.
The corrosion resistance makes stainless steel a perfect choice for most applications. Even at extremely high temperatures, stainless steel will not oxidize.
Apart from chromium, other elements, such as molybdenum, improve corrosion and rust resistance. For instance, 316 SS has 3% molybdenum.
As a result, 316 stainless steel is a perfect choice for most corrosion-prone applications.
Stainless Steel – Resource: Wikipedia
3. Maintaining Stainless Steel Is Easy and Cost Effective
Cleaning and maintaining stainless steel surfaces is easy. You can use a cost-effective solution to clean and maintain stainless steel surfaces.
You can clean stainless steel surfaces with soapy and warm water.
Even if there are scratches, you can polish the surface. You can use many surface treatment options to restore stainless steel surfaces.
Moreover, you can easily maintain the recommended hygiene standards. A reason stainless steel parts and components are common in the medical industry.
However, before cleaning the stainless steel surface, know the stains you intend to remove.
There are cleaning procedures that may require:
- Passivation treatment
- Pickling treatments
- Organic solvents such as alcohol, acetone, etc
- Baking soda
How to Clean Stainless Steel – Source: How Stuff Work
Cleaning Stainless Steel Surface – Source: Real Simple
4. Stainless Steel Withstand High Heat and Temperature
There are special stainless steel grades with high chromium and nickel. Such SS grades will resist scaling besides maintaining their high strength even at elevated temperatures.
For these reasons, you can use stainless steel in boilers and superheaters.
Even at high temperatures, stainless steel still exhibits excellent oxidation resistance. Of course, this is due to the chromium content in the stainless steel material. Still, SS remains a perfect choice in high-temperature applications, even at high temperatures.
5. Easy to Machine and Fabricate
There are unlimited ways you can machine stainless steel sheets, stainless steel tubes, stainless steel panels, stainless steel plates, or stainless steel angles.
Depending on the stainless steel parts, you can laser cut, mill, drill, rivet, weld, or bend sheet metal parts.
Furthermore, after the stainless steel metal fabrication process, you can add any surface finish to improve the surface appearance. You can paint, polish, emboss or paint stainless steel surfaces.
Consequently, you can make many stainless steel parts and components across many industries.
Stainless Steel Sheet Fabrication – Source: KDMFAB
6. Stainless Steel has an Attractive Appearance
Aesthetic value is critical in sheet metal fabrication.
The shiny stainless steel surface guarantees a better appearance and finish. The best part, you can add other surface treatments to improve the stainless steel appearance.
Besides, the finishing may also improve specific inherent stainless steel properties.
In fact, the bright or shiny stainless steel surface resonates well with purity and hygiene.
Even for decorative applications, stainless steel offers unlimited possibilities. Additionally, you can blend stainless steel with other materials for ornamental designs.
Metal Surface Treatments – Source: KDMFAB
Stainless Steel Polishing – Source: CSUNITEC
7. Stainless Steel is 100% Recyclable
Recyclability makes SS a sustainable material in many applications. You can recycle used stainless steel parts to create new products.
Recycling stainless steel reduces production costs. Additionally, it will reduce waste in the environment.
In fact, SS is 100% recyclable.
Mostly, you will find that most stainless steel products available in the market are made of 65% recycled material.
8. For Cryogenic Uses, Stainless Steel is a Perfect Alternative
Austenitic stainless steel will maintain its mechanical and physical properties at extremely low and high temperatures. Consequently, the SS grade is a perfect choice for low-temperature applications.
At extremely low temperatures, the SS tensile strength will be high. However, at cryogenic temperature, the toughness will begin to degrade.
In fact, this property makes austenitic SS suitable for liquefied gas below -161°C.
However, the situation is different for Ferritic, precipitation hardening and martensitic SS. At negative temperatures, their toughness reduces significantly.
Even though duplex SS is suitable for low-temperature applications, the temperature should not go below 50°C.
9. A High Strength and Low Weight Ensure Cost Effectiveness
Cold-rolling austenitic stainless steel reduces material thickness and improves overall strength. This applies to duplex steel.
As you reduce the stainless steel thickness, it will result in low weight. Of course, while still maintaining the desired SS weight.
Apart from cold work hardening, heat treatment will improve stainless steel strength properties.
As a result, it will guarantee significant cost savings when constructing various stainless steel parts.
10. It is a Durable and Extremely Tough Material
Generally, stainless steel has high impact strength. Stainless steel is not susceptible to brittleness, even at extremely high or low temperatures.
A stainless steel structure will serve you for many years without showing any signs of weakness. A reason the material is perfect for most permanent structures.
Even in diverse environmental conditions, stainless steel will maintain its dimensional stability.
Depending on the stainless steel grade, cold working or heat treatment will also improve the strength and toughness.
11. Stainless Steel Material is Readily Available
Recycling stainless steel makes the material readily available for many applications. This has made stainless steel parts affordable and readily available.
Most existing stainless steel products are 100% recyclable. Therefore, the “raw material” for making new SS parts comes from existing components.
Ideally, stainless steel offers long-term value. That is when you consider the raw material availability, low maintenance cost, and durability.
12. Many Stainless Steel Grades Available for Any Application
When choosing suitable stainless steel for any application, you have unlimited grades. You can choose the 200 series, 300 series, 400 series, and 500 series, depending on specific application requirements.
For instance, austenitic SS is a perfect choice for low-temperature applications. Additionally, 304 SS & 316 SS is an ideal options for parts’ indirect contact with food.
Ideally, there are over 20 SS grades available for any application. It will depend on specific performance characteristics you want to achieve, such as:
- Improved corrosion resistance in seawater – choose 316 SS
- Resistance to scaling – consider 309 and 310 series
- Resistance to post-weld corrosion – go for the 308 series
- Higher creep strength – 347 series is a perfect choice
In short, you have unlimited SS options.
13. Stainless Steel Guarantees Cost for Value
Although the initial cost for stainless steel and parts may be high, it is affordable in the long run. Stainless steel will serve you for many years without making it more economical.
If you compare stainless steel to other metals, it requires low maintenance. Besides, it does not require complex finishing operations.
Besides, stainless steel products are:
- Easy to clean – there are unlimited cleaning options and detergents
- Known for “self-healing”, – whenever scratches expose stainless steel to oxygen, chromium help form a protective layer.
In short, the long service lifespan, nearly maintenance-free material, easy-to-fabricate property, corrosion and 100% recyclability make SS affordable.
14. Stainless Steel is Biologically Inert
Biologically inert materials do not react or affect surrounding body tissues. The most popular materials for this application include:
- Stainless steel
- Alumina, etc.
In the recent past, stainless steel has been popular in making implants. It offers a cost-effective and reliable alternative to the existing body implant materials.
Generally, stainless steel is safe, flexible, and does not corrode. The reasons stainless steel is popular in the medical industry.
Apart from these stainless steel advantages, the material has better electrical and heat conduction properties. SS is a popular material for boilers and stainless steel heat exchanger systems.
Bonus: Disadvantage of Stainless Steel
Even as you choose stainless steel for any application, it is vital to know the key limitations. They include:
- The initial cost is usually high
- It would help if you adopted a proper maintenance schedule to enjoy the long-term benefits
- Stainless steel may be susceptible to scratches
- Some grades are non-magnetic
As you can see, stainless steel combines superior mechanical, physical, electrical, and chemical properties.
For this reason, it is a material you can trust for almost all sheet metal fabrication needs.
Contact us now if you have any questions or inquiries on stainless steel fabrication.