Stainless steel is a popular item across the US. It can be used for various purposes in both mechanical and consumer markets. Stainless steel is made from iron and chromium. The exact components of stainless steel depend on a lot of factors, such as the use of the steel. Stainless steel is also a corrosion-resistant element.
This article will focus on what stainless steel is, how it’s made, the general properties of stainless steel, why it’s so popular, and the benefits of using it.
How is Stainless Steel Made?
Stainless steel is made in four common steps. Shaping the metal is a large part of the process because this plays a significant role in its performance. Before the process can start, a molten alloy has to be created.
Step 1: Melting the Elements
Manufacturing steel begins with melting all of the elements into an electric arc furnace (EAF). The EAF uses high-power electrodes and melts the metal elements for many hours to create a new mixture. Exact temperatures will vary based on the grade of steel being made.
Step 2: Removing Carbon Content
When you add carbon content to metal, it will help harden and strengthen the element. If however you add too much, it can create issues in the future when you try to weld your steel. This step is essential to create the correct type of stainless steel.
There are two different ways to control carbon content: through Argon Oxygen Decarburization (AOD) or through Vacuum Oxygen Decarburization (VOD).
For AOD you must inject an argon gas mixture into molten steel. This reduces the carbon content with the minimal loss of other essential elements.
The other method is VOD. This method is when molten steel is transferred to an oxygen chamber where oxygen is injected into steel while heat is being applied. A vacuum will then remove vented gasses from the chamber, resulting in the reduction of carbon content.
Step 3: Turning
At this stage, a final balance of temperature occurs. Here the metal will meet the requirements for its intended grade and the composition throughout the batch.
In this step, the samples are tested and analyzed. Then adjustments are made until the mixture meets the required standards.
Step 4: Forming or Casting
The last step is the forming or casting stage. The steel is now ready to be shaped, however the steel will need to cool before it will be worked on. The final product will dictate the exact shape and dimensions of the steel. The steps from here will vary depending on the grade and the final product required.
General Properties of Stainless Steel
There are many properties of stainless steel. The most common are:
- Resistant to corrosion and temperature
- High tensile strength
- Long product life
Benefits of Stainless Steel
There are many benefits of stainless steel. Firstly, it is fire and heat-resistant. Stainless steel also has oxidation resistance, especially at high temperatures. This means your stainless steel will stay strong under high or low-temperature conditions.
Stainless steel is extremely tough and durable. This means it has a resistance of high impact and will retain its shape.
Sustainability is an additional benefit of stainless steel. Stainless steel is 100% recyclable and can be repurposed for its original function. Furthermore, it won’t bleed any toxic chemicals or other materials when it is being recycled.
The final benefit of stainless steel is its long-term value. The life cycle of the material is long in comparison to other materials, eliminating the need to continually invest in new or replacement products.
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