Stainless steel is a chromium combined steel alloy. The minimum chromium content of the standardised stainless steel is 11%. Chromium makes the steel ‘stainless’ which means it has a improved corrosion resistance.
Corrosion resistance increases when there is more chromium oxide film formed on the steel surface. This extremely thin layer and under the right conditions is also self-repairing.
Besides chromium, there are also alloying elements like molybdenum, nickel and nitrogen. Nickel mostly alloys in to improve the formability and ductility of stainless steel. Alloying these elements brings out different crystal structures to enable different properties in machining, forming, welding etc.
The four major types of stainless steel are:
Austenitic is the most widely used type of stainless steel and still represents 80% of the world market. It has a nickel content of at least of 7%, which makes the steel structure fully austenitic and gives it ductility, a large scale of service temperature, non-magnetic properties and good weldability. The range of applications of austenitic stainless steel includes housewares, containers, industrial piping and vessels, architectural facades and constructional structures.
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