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What is Stainless Steel?

Stainless Steel is one of the most used materials around us today and its use can be found in kitchen utensils, automotive parts, marine fasteners and just about every other aspect of life today. What is it? Stainless steel.  This short article will look at the basics of stainless steel including its defining structure, advantages of over other materials, as well as some interesting facts like how Stainless Steel is 100% recyleable and sustainable.

To start with, here is a short video highlighting how Stainless Steel works:

So, what exactly stainless steel? Stainless steel is the name given to what is defined as a steel alloy that contains a minimum of 10.5 per cent chromium content. This chromium is essentially what makes stainless steel work, since the primary element, iron, naturally wants to corrode, while the chromium content helps to stop this natural attempt to combine the pure iron with oxygen and water (to form rust). When chromium combines with oxygen is forms an invisible layer of ‘chromium oxide’ onto of the metal which stops the oxygen from combining with the iron.

The invention of corrosion resistant iron can be attributed to a number of metallurgists dating back to 1821 where French metallurgist Pierre Berthier noted their resistance against attack from acids and suggested their use in cutlery. In 1912 an English metallurgist by the name of Harry Brearley was in search for an alloy to protect gun barrels and cannon bores (the inside of a cannon) from erosion and is often cited as the originator of stainless steel. Despite being called 'stainless' steel, a more accurate description of the metal is 'highly stain resistant' steel.

Some of the advantages of stainless steel over other materials are its non-toxic and rust-resistant properties making it safe to use in kitchens and for toys and animal cages, its ease to clean, that it is environmentally friendly, 100 per cent recyclable (and often made from recycled materials), as well as its long life span making it excellent value for money. There are many different grades of Stainless Steel classed by their main crystal structures.

Of course, stainless steel is extremely prevalent in the building, manufacturing and marine industries where many common fasteners, fittings and hardware are used every day. If you're after any kind of stainless fastener then visit the stainless steel experts and suppliers, Anzor, online or call (07) 3711 9977 for more information.

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