Stainless Steel

What is stainless steel?

Stainless steel is a steel alloy with a minimum of 10.5% to 11% chromium content. Stainless steel doesn’t corrode, rust or stain with water as ordinary steel does, but is not stain-proof, most notably under low oxygen, high salinity, or poor circulation environments. Stainless steel with additions of 13% chromium are high-oxidation resistant in air and water. It is also referred to as corrosion-resistant steel or CRES.

Stainless steel has a protective layer that naturally reforms when scratched, which protects the metal beneath. Stainless steel is not a good conductor of electricity, and austenitic stainless steel is non-magnetic.

Stainless steel differs from carbon steel by the amount of chromium present. Unprotected carbon steel rusts readily when exposed to air and moisture. This iron oxide film (the rust) is active and accelerates corrosion by forming more iron oxide, and due to the dissimilar size of the iron and iron oxide molecules (iron oxide is larger) these tend to flake and fall away.

Stainless steel is a lustrous metal alloy, and is low-maintenance, making it an ideal material for many applications, such as knives, surgical instruments, industrial equipment and it is widely used in aerospace applications.
Stainless steels contain sufficient chromium to form a passive film of chromium oxide, which prevents further surface corrosion and blocks corrosion from spreading into the metal's internal structure, and due to the similar size of the steel and oxide molecules they bond very strongly and remain attached to the surface

There are different types of stainless steels: when nickel is added, for instance, the austenite structure of iron is stabilized. This crystal structure makes such steels virtually non-magnetic and less brittle at low temperatures. For greater hardness and strength, more carbon is added. With proper heat treatment, these steels are used for such products as razor blades, cutlery, and tools.

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