Stainless Steel is a steel alloy containing chromium, well known for its corrosion resistance where durability and cleanliness are important. Here at Metals4U-Online, we only sell the highest quality stainless metals, and we ship direct to you! No order is cut 2 small! We're HUGE!
History of Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel, is also described as inox steel (derived from French: "inoxydable" meaning stainless), is a steel alloy. The major difference between stainless steel and ordinary (carbon) steel is that the former does not undergo corrosion when exposed to water or air while the latter does. Therefore, stainless steel finds use in applications that not only need the properties of steel but also require high resistance to corrosion.
How is Stainless Steel Manufactured?
During the steel making process, various elements are added to ordinary steel when it is still in its molten state. The elements added, as well as the quantities of those elements, will change the properties of steel. If, during the process of steel production, the amount of chromium added exceeds 10.5% of the total mass of the alloy, the resultant steel alloy is stainless steel.
Why Is Stainless Steel Highly Resistant to Corrosion?
Stainless Steel is highly resistant to corrosion because of the large amount of chromium that it contains. This chromium reacts with the oxygen present in the atmosphere to form a passive layer of chromium oxide. As a result of the formation of this layer, oxygen in the atmosphere is unable to reach the actual steel surface; this protects the metal alloy from rusting or corroding. However, for this to happen, not only should sufficient amount of chromium be present, so should sufficient amount of oxygen. Therefore, in environments having low oxygen levels, stainless steel might still undergo corrosion.
The property of non-corrosion of an alloy of iron and chromium was first discovered by Pierre Berthier, who was a French metallurgist, in the year 1821. However, in the 19th century, metallurgists were not able to actually produce a steel alloy that had high levels of chromium and low levels of carbon. The alloys that they produced had high levels of carbon and were too brittle. It wasn't until the latter part of the 19th century and earlier part of the 20th century, however, that a number of researchers, like the Frenchman Leon Guillet and others in Europe and the United States of America, managed to create alloys which, today, we would consider as stainless steel. And all of this started when a German chemist called Hans Goldschmidt developed a thermite process to produce chromium that was carbon-free. By the third decade of the twentieth century, mass production of stainless steel had set in.
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* All 'value length' and 'value pack' item measurements are subject to a "mill tolerance". A product may be produced several thousandths of an inch, either over or under the stated thickness, and still be within "mill tolerance". This does NOT apply to Cut To Size items. Those will be +.125", -0.00" tolerances.