We wanted to bring back our most popular post to provide a cutting-edge look at the advantages of stainless steel (originally published in October 2017).
Stainless steel is one the most popular choices for material construction. For centuries, stainless steel has been used in architecture, engineering, landscapes, interiors, and maritime construction. It is strong, durable, versatile and recyclable.
At Superior Steel Fabrication and Superior Machining, we specialize in contract fabrication and precision machining, so we’ve had our fair share of experience working with stainless steel.
Here is a brief overview of stainless steel, its properties, and the advantages you get from it.
What Is Stainless Steel?
Stainless steel is a low carbon steel that must have a minimum of 10% chromium. The addition of chromium to the steel causes the formation of a chromium-oxide film which gives stainless steel its unique properties such as its resistance to corrosion and its ability to heal itself when in the presence of oxygen.
There are over 60 different grades of stainless steel. Lower grades work well when exposed to atmospheric and water environments while higher grades are preferable for exposure to either alkaline or acidic solutions.
The Advantages of Using Stainless Steel
Probably the biggest advantage to working with stainless steel is its value. Though it has a high upfront cost, that cost is spread out over a longer lifespan than other comparable materials. This makes stainless steel a more economical choice in the long run. As of January 2019, the cost per pound for a stainless steel sheet 304 2B is $1.38; the cost per pound of 430 sheet is $1.03. Other advantages to choosing stainless steel are:
It is durable. Stainless is especially durable because it has anti-corrosive properties, and will not succumb to rust or the exposure to pollutants. The percentage of chromium determines how resistant the steel is to corrosive environments. Lower percentages will work well in wet environments while higher percentages are required for acidic or alkaline environments.
It is 100% recyclable. As much as 50% of stainless steel production in the U.S. uses recycled metal materials. Recycled steel uses less energy to refine, purify, and shape components. The strength of the steel is not compromised when it is recycled.
It is hygienic. Stainless steel is very hygienic making it perfect for use in hospitals, kitchens, or anywhere where hygiene is of the utmost importance.
It is heat resistant. Stainless steel’s resistance to high temperatures makes it a popular choice for various heat exchangers, boilers, valves, and other applications where high levels of heat are present.
It has a high strength-to-weight ratio. With higher grades, there is a significant strength-to-weight advantage that allows for less material to be used to achieve the same result as lower grades of stainless steel and other metals.
It is aesthetically pleasing. There’s a reason that many household appliances feature stainless steel, as it makes a visually-pleasing addition to any space.