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    Home > FAQ

Stainless Steel Types

Stainless steel is an outstanding material with its high resistance to oxidation (rust) and corrosion in many different environments. It is, however, important to select the correct type and grade for the particular application because there are many different types and each is made for different applications.

Just adding or reducing some elements can dramatically change the characteristics of the stainless steel. For instance, adding nickel can stabilize the austenitic structure of iron. Adding whereas adding carbon will make it harder and stronger. If the nickel is replaced by manganese the austenitic structure will be same but it will be cheaper.

Stainless steels are commonly divided into five groups:

There are more than 60 grades of stainless steel, however they can be divided into 5 groups.  Each is identified by the alloying elements which affect their microstructure.

Austenitic (non-magnetic)
          Most of the stainless steel products that require the greater resistance to chloride pitting and crevice corrosion, for example flatware, are in this group. The three significant components are carbon, chromium and nickel (or manganese).   However, the high molybdenum and nitrogen content, together with the higher nickel content will result in a "superaustenitic" stainless steel for higher effective corrosion resistance, but the higher alloy content of superaustenitic means a higher cost as well.  So, in this case, the duplex steels could be replaced because of the similar performance.

Ferritic stainless steel (magnetic)
          Chromium is the main alloying component for this stainless steel type. There is low carbon content and very little nickel. It is the lowest cost stainless steel.

Martensitic stainless steel
          The compositions are chromium, molybdenum and carbon. There is no nickel.  Martensitic stainless steel is not corrosion resistant but it is extremely strong and hard; the drawback being that the carbon which makes it harder also makes it more brittle.

Precipitation-hardening martensitic stainless steel
          The most common formula (14/4PH) contains chromium and nickel. It is corrosion resistant and also very strong, resisting impacts better than the ordinary martensitic grade.

Duplex (ferritic-austenitic)
          This is the combination of austenitic and ferritic, making it strong and corrosion resistant.  It can be used in a thinner section to save weight and cost.

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