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    Home > FAQ

How can stainless steel be corrosion resistant?

"Stainless steel" originated from ‘steel that does not stain, rust or corrode.’    "Corrosion often occurs with carbon steel but not stainless steel in a passive state."

If the surface of carbon steel begins to stain it will corrode but this will not occur with stainless steel in a passive state.   The key to this phenomenon is "Chromium" which must be present at least 10.5% (by weight).

The chromium content of the steel allows the formation of a rough, invisible, adhesive, corrosion-resisting chromium oxide film on the steel surface. If damaged mechanically or chemically, this film is self-healing if there is enough oxygen.

Magnetic permeability in stainless steel

Magnetic permeability is the ability of a material to carry magnetism, indicated by the degree of attraction to a magnet. All types of stainless steel, except those in the austenitic group, are attracted to a magnet.


         The magnetic property of stainless steel is dependent on the elements added to the alloy. Nickel, which is used to strengthen the oxide layer for corrosive resistance, is also the main factor which modifies the physical structure of stainless steel to be non-magnetic; the more nickel added to the alloy the more the stainless steel becomes non-magnetic.

In the annealed condition, all austenitic grades of stainless steel have a very low magnetic permeability, or almost none. However, in the strong cold working, Grade 304 stainless steel is more magnetic whilst grades 310 and 316 are non-magnetic. However, austenitic (300 series) stainless steel, which could be made to be magnetic in the cold work state, could be returned to a non-magnetic again by stress relieving achieved by heating to approximately 700-800 íC. However, if it is the stainless steel which sensitizes to carbide precipitation, 1,000 - 1,150   íC of full solution treatment can also remove the magnetic response without the danger of lowering the corrosive resistance due to carbides.
          Consequently, if the magnetic permeability is important in the desired application this should be noted before purchase.

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