What is Stainless Steel & What is it Used For?

We will discuss stainless steel’s characteristics and definition in this blog.

With variable amounts of chromium, nickel, carbon, and other elements, iron makes up the majority of the alloy known as stainless steel.
Stainless steel is distinguished from other forms of steel by its primary attribute—its durability against rust, corrosion, and staining.
The elements oxygen and iron do not react to form corrosion on the steel’s surface because of the amount of chromium, which forms a thin protective oxide coating on the steel’s surface. Well-known for its robustness, hygienic qualities, and longevity, stainless steel finds use in a variety of sectors, including home appliances, automotive, aerospace, and medicine. To satisfy varied needs for strength, durability, resistance to corrosion, and design, it is available in a variety of grades and finishes.


The development of stainless steel is credited to the efforts of numerous scientists and engineers over time rather than being “invented” by one person. Nonetheless, the discovery of stainless steel in 1913 is generally attributed to British metallurgist Harry Brearley. Brearley discovered that adding chromium to steel greatly increased its resistance to corrosion while working on creating erosion-resistant gun barrels for military use. The commercial production of stainless steel resulted from this discovery, which completely changed the steel industry.

The commercial background of stainless steel.

1919–1923: In Sheffield, stainless steel is used to make tools, cutlery, and surgical scalpels.
1925: The use of a stainless steel tank to hold nitric acid confirms the material’s resistance to corrosion.
1926: A major development in medical technology is the introduction of surgical implants made of stainless steel.
1928: Stainless steel becomes a mainstay in the food and hygiene industries by enabling the fermentation of beer in special vessels, demonstrating its hygienic benefits.
1930s: Rugged and corrosion-resistant transportation is made possible by stainless steel locomotives.
1931: The first stainless steel aircraft is built, marking the aviation industry’s adoption of stainless steel.
1935: Because of its strength and ability to withstand corrosion, stainless steel becomes a common fixture in kitchens all over the world.
1954: The first stainless steel underwater camera is introduced, improving underwater exploration and photography.
1966: France completes the construction of the first tidal power station in history, demonstrating the technology’s applicability to maritime environments with stainless steel turbine blades.
1980s: Engineers build the biggest movable flood barrier out of stainless steel, effectively protecting vulnerable coastal areas from flooding.
2023: Approximately 60 million tonnes of stainless steel are produced worldwide, demonstrating the material’s continued significance in contemporary industry.

What Types of Stainless Steel Are There?

Stainless steel comes in a variety of forms, each with special qualities and composition. Among the most prevalent kinds are:
1) Austenitic stainless steel – Due to its high concentrations of nickel and chromium, austenitic stainless steel is renowned for its non-magnetic characteristics and remarkable resistance to corrosion. This kind of stainless steel, which has a nickel content of up to 35% and a chromium content of 16 to 26%, is frequently used in applications that call for outstanding formability, weldability, and corrosion resistance. Kitchen sinks, cookware, and food processing equipment are common applications where hygienic practices and longevity are crucial.
2) Ferritic stainless steel has high chromium concentrations but low carbon and nickel content. Good corrosion resistance is provided by this type of stainless steel, especially in mildly corrosive environments, with a chromium content ranging from 10.5 to 27% and no nickel content. It also demonstrates magnetic properties. Due to its advantageous magnetic properties and resistance to corrosion, ferritic stainless steel is used in a variety of industries, such as automotive exhaust systems, appliances, and architectural projects.
3) Martensitic Stainless Steel – Because of its elevated carbon content and ability to withstand heat treatment, Martensitic Stainless Steel is well-known for its exceptional strength, hardness, and resistance to wear. Martensitic stainless steel usually has a chromium content of 11.5% to 18% and a carbon content of about 1.2%. However, for certain applications, nickel may also be added. It is widely used in products that need to be exceptionally strong and resistant to corrosion, like knives, turbine blades, and surgical instruments.
4) Duplex stainless steel – combines the best qualities of austenitic and ferritic stainless steels to offer a well-balanced combination of strength and resistance to corrosion. It has a high molybdenum content along with a typical chromium content of 21% to 27% and a nickel content of 1.35% to 8%. This alloy’s exceptional mechanical qualities and resistance to corrosion make it ideal for harsh settings like chemical processing, offshore oil and gas platforms, and marine equipment, where long-term dependability and durability are crucial.
5) Steel with Precipitation Hardening: Precipitation hardening stainless steel, or PH stainless steel, is a kind of stainless steel that can undergo heat treatment to achieve extremely high strengths and toughness. It is used in items that require an exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, such as aerospace components, high-performance shafts, and surgical implants.
These are only a few types of stainless steel that are available; each type has numerous variations and subcategories that are each suited to particular needs and applications.

Stainless steel has many Advantages that have led to its extensive use in a variety of industries:

  1. Corrosion Resistance: Stainless steel has a high level of resistance to rust, corrosion, and staining, which makes it perfect for use in settings where exposure to chemicals, moisture, and adverse conditions is frequent.
  2. Strength and Durability: Stainless steel has a natural ability to withstand high loads, impacts, and temperatures without deteriorating or deforming.
  3. Hygienic Properties: Because stainless steel is simple to maintain and clean, it can be used in applications where hygiene and cleanliness are essential, such as the food and medical industries.
  4. Aesthetic Appeal: Appliances, consumer goods, and architectural designs all gain a sense of refinement from the sleek, contemporary appearance of stainless steel.
  5. Recyclability: Stainless steel has a minimal environmental impact on the world and is completely recyclable, making it a sustainable material choice.
But stainless steel also has certain limitations and disadvantages:
  1. Cost: Stainless steel can be more costly than other materials, like aluminium or carbon steel, especially when it comes to premium alloys that have extra elements like nickel and molybdenum.
  2. Magnetism: Because ferritic and martensitic grades of stainless steel have magnetic properties, they might not be appropriate for uses where those qualities are undesirable.
  3. Hardness: Although stainless steel is usually strong, it can scratch easily and wear down on the surface, especially in places with a lot of traffic or near abrasive materials.
  4. The high chromium content of some stainless steel grades makes them challenging to weld, necessitating specific welding methods and tools.
  5. Sensitivity to Chlorides: If stainless steel isn’t alloyed or maintained properly, it can be vulnerable to pitting and crevice corrosion in chloride-containing environments like swimming pools and coastal areas.

Stainless steel is a preferred option for a wide range of applications in various industries because, despite these disadvantages, its Advantage frequently exceed its restrictions.

The following materials are available in different forms for the three common grades of stainless steel: 304, 316, and 202:
  1. The grades 304, 316, and 202 stainless steel pipes and Stainless Steel Tubes are offered in a range of sizes and thicknesses to cater to a variety of applications in the manufacturing, construction, and automotive industries.
  2. Stainless Steel Sheet, Plate, Coil : – Grades 304, 316, and 202 stainless steel sheets, plates, and coils are available in various thicknesses and dimensions for use in industrial equipment, automobile parts, construction, and kitchen appliances.
  3. Stainless Steel Flanges : – Available in a range of sizes, types (including slip-on, weld neck, and blind), and pressure ratings, flanges composed of grades 304, 316, and 202 stainless steel can be used in a variety of piping systems and applications in sectors such as chemical processing, oil and gas, and power generation.
  4. Stainless Steel Fittings – To make piping connections easier in a variety of industries, including plumbing, HVAC, and industrial processing, fittings consisting of elbows, tees, reducers, and couplings made of grades 304, 316, and 202 stainless steel are available in a variety of sizes and configurations.
  5. Stainless Steel Round Bar (Hex, Square): – Grades 304, 316, and 202 stainless steel are available as round bars, hexagonal bars, and square bars in a range of diameters and lengths for use in machining, building, automotive, and architectural applications.
  6. Stainless Steel Angel, SS Flat Bar: – Grades 304, 316, and 202 stainless steel are available as flat bars and angle bars in various thicknesses and sizes for fabrication, structural applications, and decorative uses in the manufacturing, construction and architectural industries.

While these industries commonly utilize stainless steel grades 304, 316, and 202, the specific grade and form chosen may vary based on factors such as environmental conditions, regulatory requirements and cost considerations.

These materials provide corrosion resistance, durability, and versatility for a variety of engineering and construction projects, meeting the needs of a broad range of industries and applications.

If you have any more questions about stainless steel, feel free to reach out to the specialists at Shree Viratra Enterprises. They’ll be more than happy to assist you with any inquiries you may have.

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