Stainless Steel Properties

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Stainless Steel is a standard term given to a group of corrosion resistant alloy Steels containing 10.5% or more chromium. All Stainless Steels have high levels of corrosion resistance. This resistance to corrosion is due to a naturally occurring chromium rich oxide layer formed on the surface of the Steel. Although incredibly thin, this invisible, inert layer is tightly adherent to the Stainless Steel and extremely protective in a wide range of corrosive environments. This layer is rapidly self healing in the presence of oxygen, and damage by abrasion, cutting or machining is quickly repaired. This means it does not need a protective coating on the material like Mild Steel does to prevent it from rusting. Stainless Steel was a term given to the metal in its early years, due to the materials use in the cutlery industry. Stainless Steel alloy was discovered in 1913 by Harry Brearley, while he was working in Sheffield to manufacture rust resistant gun barrels.

Corrosion resistance

All Stainless Steels have good corrosion resistance. Low alloyed grades can resist corrosion in atmospheric conditions; highly alloyed grades can resist corrosion in most alkaline solutions, acids, and chloride bearing environments, even at elevated pressures and temperatures.

High and low temperature resistance

Some grades can maintain high strength at very high temperatures and will resist scaling. Other Stainless Steel grades show great toughness when used in cryogenic temperatures. For use in extremely low temperatures metals4u would recommend grade 316.

Ease of fabrication

All of our Stainless Steels can be cut, welded, formed, machined and fabricated. Grade 303 contains a small amount of lead, this gives the material good machineability. Grade 304 and 316 do not contain lead and as such are slightly harder to machine.


The cold work hardening properties of a number of Stainless Steels can be used in design to reduce material thicknesses as well as weight and costs. Other Stainless Steels can be heat treated to create very high strength components.

Aesthetic appeal

Stainless Steel is proved with many surface finishes including Bright and Satin polished. It is easily maintained resulting in a high quality, pleasing appearance.

Hygienic properties

Stainless Steel has great cleanability making it the top choice for use in hospitals, kitchens, food and pharmaceutical processing facilities.

Life cycle/Environmental characteristics

Stainless Steel is also environmentally friendly compared to other alternative products. Stainless Steel is durable and low maintenance and lasts longer than a variety of competing products. This often makes the product cheaper compared to others when making a life cycle comparison. Stainless Steel also removes the need for potentially hazardous additional materials like paint, fire protective coatings, cleaners and solvents.

Stainless Steel is a valuable scrap material. It is 100% recyclable and more than half the Stainless Steel produced today has previously been another useful Stainless Steel product in the past. Despite the very high recycling of old Stainless Steel products, a certain amount of Stainless Steel will find its way to landfills or other disposal sites. In these circumstances no detrimental effect to soil or ground water is expected.