We often get asked, “Is stainless steel magnetic?” If you Google it, you may naturally get a lot of different answers. We’re here to help — this article will outline what stainless steel is, the criteria for magnetic stainless steel, the three main types, and why some stainless steel is not magnetic.
What is stainless steel?
Stainless steel is a metal that has a combination of iron, chromium, silicon, carbon, nitrogen, and manganese. Stainless steel is known for its corrosion resistance. To be categorized as “stainless steel,” it must contain at least 10.5% chromium and no more than 1.2% carbon. Additionally, there are five different categories of stainless steel: austenitic, ferritic, martensitic, duplex, and precipitation-hardened.
What are the criteria for magnetic stainless steel?
There are two main criteria for magnetic stainless steel:
- The stainless steel must contain iron. Iron is the main component that will make your stainless steel magnetic.
- The stainless steel’s crystal structure alloy must be arranged in a martensitic or ferritic structure. If your stainless steel has an austenite structure, it will not be magnetic.
3 Main Types of Stainless Steel
There are three main types of stainless steel: austenitic, ferritic, and duplex.
1. Austenitic Stainless Steels
Austenitic stainless steels are the most widely used. However, most austenitic stainless steel is non-magnetic because of austenite. However, you could make them partially magnetic with special thermal treatment or hardening, as these processes change the underlying structure.
2. Ferritic Stainless Steels
Ferritic stainless steels are the most cost-effective of all the stainless steel types. In addition, they have magnetic properties due to their composition. Additionally, ferritic stainless steel is compounded of mainly iron. However, if it is a particular variant, it may have a weak magnetic pull.
3. Duplex Stainless Steels
The mixture of austenitic and ferritic crystals makes up duplex stainless steel. It possesses a magnetic pull.
What types of stainless steel are magnetic?
The magnetic stainless steel types are ferritic, duplex, martensitic, and precipitation. The types of stainless steel that do not have magnetic properties are austenitic steel grades 301, 304, 302HQ, 303, 310, 316, 321, 253MA, and 904L.
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