Nearly everyone has heard of stainless steel or has used it in some way, shape or form throughout their life, but not everyone knows what it is, how it’s made, how it’s used and the advantages of choosing it over other types of materials. There are many unique benefits associated with using stainless steel in a wide variety of projects and applications. Unfortunately, many contractors and designers will overlook these advantages due to the higher cost of stainless steel compared to other materials. However, if you are looking for a material that will increase the life of your project, stainless steel will ultimately be the best value in the long run.
What is Stainless Steel?
Stainless steel is appropriately named, as it is a type of steel that has a unique ability to resist stains and corrosion. Ten percent or more of stainless steel comes from the addition of chromium, which is what gives the steel its unique properties. The steel that is used to create stainless steel is a low carbon steel.
One of the most unique abilities of stainless steel is its ability to heal itself. The chromium content allows for the formation of an invisible chromium oxide film on the surface of the steel. If the damaged stainless steel is exposed to oxygen – even in small amounts – it will become self-healing, even with mechanical and chemical damage.
When other elements, such as nickel, nitrogen and molybdenum are added during the manufacturing process, these corrosion resistant properties are increased. While there are currently over 60 different grades of stainless steel available to choose from, they all fall neatly into five distinct classes that are identified by the alloy elements that are added to enhance or strengthen their properties.
The Benefits of Choosing Stainless Steel Materials
There are different corrosion resistant properties associated with different grades of stainless steel. Because of the invisible layer of chromium oxide that protects stainless steel materials, making them stain and corrosion resistant, stainless steel is also the ideal choice for hospital and other hygiene-conscious conditions.
Another major benefit of using stainless steel materials is the significant strength-to-weight advantage over other material options. Because of the unique ability of stainless steel to resist corrosion, heat damage and chemical damage, high strength duplex grades provide added strength, allowing for a reduced thickness in the material, providing a cost advantage over conventional grades of stainless steel.
As much as 50 percent of all new stainless steel that is manufactured in the United States is made from remelted scrap metal. Stainless steel is 100 percent recyclable. In today’s environmentally-conscious world, these benefits make stainless steel a welcome choice for eco-friendly construction projects. Speak with your local steel supplier in Massachusetts for more information about the benefits of using stainless steel.
Commercial Use of Stainless Steel Materials
Stainless steel provides a low maintenance, corrosion resistant and good-looking material that is preferred in many commercial uses. The alloy can be made into stainless steel plates, bars, wire, sheets and tubing, making it ideal for use in manufacturing surgical instruments, appliances, hardware, cookware and cutlery, building material for large buildings and skyscrapers, industrial equipment and much more.
Kitchens, food processing plants, hospitals, medical offices, surgical centers and other industries rely heavily on stainless steel for easy cleaning and sterilization. The aviation industry also uses different grades of stainless steel materials due to their ability to add strength without adding a lot of weight like other materials.
Different Types of Stainless Steel Materials
Grades that have lower alloys will resist corrosion in pure water or atmospheric environments. Grades that have a higher alloy have the ability to resist corrosion in alkaline or acid solutions, as well as chlorine bearing environments, such as processing plants and other industrial facilities.
Stainless steel materials that have a very high level of chromium, as well as grades of stainless steel that contain nickel, have the ability to resist scaling. This high level of nickel alloy can also retain its strength even at very high temperatures. Manganese can also be added in significant quantities to stainless steel compositions for similar results to nickel alloys, but at a much lower cost.
Carbon is added to some types of stainless steel materials to increase hardness and strength. When these materials are subjected to treatment by heat, the steel can be strengthened and honed for use in creating tools, cutlery and razor blades.
Where to Buy Stainless Steel Materials in New England
For commercial, construction or industrial useS, your best bet for locating quality stainless steel materials is to go to a steel supplier in Massachusetts, such as Mid City Steel. With locations in both Westport, MA and Bozrah, CT, they can provide stainless steel materials to contractors in and around the New England area. Contact Mid City Steel for more information about the various types, sizes and grades of stainless steel available.