What Are the Main Uses of Stainless Steel? – The Ultimate Guide

Main Uses of Stainless Steel

Although stainless steel has many applications, particular grades are used in particular sectors of the economy. Below we cover some of the most common applications of stainless steel according to properties, types, and industries.

Uses by Properties

To manufacture stainless steel, carbon and iron are melted together with chromium, silicon, nickel, molybdenum, and other elements. Various content of these additives results in all sorts of properties. The general specifications are:

  • Resistance to rust and corrosion
  • Resistance to extreme temperatures
  • Weldability
  • Strength
  • Ease of maintenance
  • Non-magnetic
  • Non-porosit

All these properties can be turned into advantages in nearly any field. For instance, the fact that stainless steel does not rust and is mostly inert makes it ideal for corrosive and humid environments like the marine industry. Various industrial chemicals and cleaners likely will not harm the surface of this metal.

The non-porous nature of the metal makes it ideal wherever hygiene is concerned. This steel’s strength and weldability make it the metal of choice for many civil engineering and construction applications.

However, the specifics of composition complicate the matter.

Uses for stainless steel

Uses for stainless steel

Uses by Types

Duplex, martensitic, ferritic, and austenitic are the four main types of stainless steel. Precipitation hardening is another unique sort of stainless steel. Let’s examine their uses in detail.

Ferritic Steel

Ferritic stainless steel grades are all those that are in the 400 grade group. These contain a significant level of chromium metal additives.

These grades are frequently used in appliances and pieces of engineering like in the petrochemical industry, automotive parts, heat exchangers, furnaces, etc

Ferritic stainless steel

Ferritic stainless steel

Austenitic Steel

Austenitic grade stainless steel is the type that you will encounter most often in any and every application.

These types of stainless steel are general and versatile, so they are used in any and every application. Austenite may be used to make anything, including cutlery, equipment, and surgical instruments.

Austenitic stainless steel

Austenitic stainless steel

Martensitic Steel

Martensitic stainless steel includes metals in the 400 series. These steels contain molybdenum to boost tensile strength at low temperatures or creep resistance at high temperatures.

As a result, industrial machinery and equipment frequently use stainless steel from the martensitic grades. This includes compressor blades, dental instruments, cutlery, pumps, motors, bolts, and more.

Martensitic stainless steel

Martensitic stainless steel

Duplex Steel

Duplex steel, which combines austenitic and ferritic stainless steel, is frequently utilized in engineering and industrial applications due to its remarkable strength. This includes the petrochemical processing equipment, marine equipment, cargo tanks, pressure vessels, and countless construction projects.

Duplex steel

Duplex steel

Precipitation Hardening

Precipitation-hardened stainless steel offers a large strength-to-weight. This steel is made by heat-treating the metal to enhance its yield strength.

The most common precipitation-hardened stainless steels are 13-8, 15-5, and 17-4. The 13-8 grade is distinguished by its low carbon content, making it ideal for aerospace engineering. The 15-5 grade is often found in the chemical industry. Finally, the 17-4 grade is high in chromium and copper, and it is used in the offshore industry.

Uses by Industries

Each industry has its own peculiarities, and different types of stainless steel offer what’s right for those industries. Below are some common application fields, examples, and suitable types of steel for each.

Construction

Stainless steel is utilized in contemporary architectural and construction projects because to its high tensile strength, resistance to corrosion, and durability. Cladding, handrails, door frames, window fittings, structural elements, reinforcing bars, lighting columns, lintels, and masonry supports are all things commonly manufactured from stainless steel.

Utilizing stainless steel provides a contemporary look in addition to structural benefits. Many top designers make use of it in projects such as in the Eurostar Terminal in London or the Helix Bridge in Singapore.

The specific grades often used are 316L, 316Ti, 316, and 2205.

Stainless steel in construction

Stainless steel in construction

Automotive

Stainless steel components are needed for various forms of transportation including ship containers, road tankers, trash trucks, and parts of automobile exhaust systems like grills and trims.

Due to its resilience to both corrosion and temperature changes, stainless steel is the best material for these applications. Specifically, high-strength steel, high- and low-carbon steel, as well as austenitic stainless steel, are employed.

Stainless steel in automotive

Stainless steel in automotive

Aerospace

For aerospace engineering, austenitic and duplex stainless steels are often employed. Parts like exhaust ducts, flanges, piston engines, and more are manufactured typically from 321 stainless steel. Austenitic stainless steel grades can endure temperatures and oxidation up to 1500°F. Importantly, the steel’s tensile and yield strengths prevent it from succumbing to creep stress. The harsh environments typical of aerospace engines will not cause austenite to lose its structural integrity, making it the perfect choice for this application.

Stainless steel in aerospace

Stainless steel in aerospace

Medical & Research

The medical industry prefers stainless steel because it is non-porous, sanitary, and simple to sterilize. Surgical and dental tools, operating tables, MRI scanners, steam sterilizers, and many other items are manufactured from stainless steel. Another lesser known medical application of stainless steel is implants and prosthetics.

Stainless steels 304 and 316 are mostly used due to their nickel content. Nickel makes the alloys more inert and has special chemical qualities ideal for medical purposes.

Similarly, with research. Countertops, portable cabinets, drain troughs, sinks, fume hoods, and other scientific equipment are all made of stainless steel in laboratories.

Stainless steel in medicine and research

Stainless steel in medicine and research

Kitchenware

When you think of stainless steel, it is likely that a fork or other cutlery flashes in your mind’s eye. Stainless steel is often used for kitchenware due to its durability and ease of cleaning. However, there is more than just forks and knives made from stainless steel. One may manufacture bowls, cookware, worktops, sinks, and saucepans out of stainless steel.

Furthermore, this metal is used in commercial kitchens because it is resistant to rust, extreme temperatures, and bacteria. Additionally, restaurants, cafes, canteens, industrial food processing facilities, and more opt for stainless steel furniture and appliances.

Stainless steel in kitchenware

Stainless steel in kitchenware

Offshore

Stainless steel is utilized often in the offshore industry, as well as in the fuel industry. That is because SS is a lightweight, strong, durable, and resistant material. It is especially useful to manufacture marine and submerged components. This includes sewage and oil piping, underwater ship parts, and risers for oil rigs, just to name a few. Of course, ladders, deck parts, and coastal handrails are also on the list.

SS 316L is most common grade for the offshore industry applications.

Stainless steel in offshore

Stainless steel in offshore

Power Plants & Energy

Equipment manufactured from stainless steel is used in long-distance energy transmission, nuclear power, hydroelectricity, and storage. It is perfect for challenging conditions that call for a lot of heat.

Stainless steel is a useful material for power plants because it can tolerate high temperatures and extreme pressure. It is used to manufacture parts like heat exchangers, transformer enclosures, reactor tanks, pressure tubes, and more. Most commonly, grades 304L, 316L, 330, and 600 are used.

Stainless steel in power and energy

Stainless steel in power and energy

Summary

All in all, stainless steel offers various benefits which make it an ideal choice for a wide range of uses. Below, we have summarized some of the more common ones.

Grade Usage
304, 304L Storage vessels
310 Furnace, heat exchangers
316, 316L Chemical tanks
321 Burners, heaters
200s Kitchenware
303 Aerospace
347 Storage tanks
410 Pipelines, valves
416 Pumps
440 Surgical implants
2205/2207 Marine components
13-8 Aircraft
15-5 Chemical, general
17-4 Offshore

 

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Whether you need stainless steel materials for your business or fabrication projects, TuoLian is your best supplier. You can find all types, grades, and thicknesses based on your needs. Guaranteed that we provide the best quality at a reasonable cost.
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