What is stainless steel?
Stainless steel is a form of steel made to resist corrosion, tarnishing, and rust. It is a low carbon steel that contains at least 10.5% chromium and less than 1.2% carbon. The inclusion of chromium results in a corrosion-resistant oxide film on the surface of the steel.
Are there multiple kinds of stainless steel?
Stainless steel is available in many varieties, with more than 60 grades on the market today. These varieties can be divided into five main classes according to the elements that makeup the specific alloys: austenitic, ferritic, duplex, martensitic, and precipitation hardening steels.
What is the life cycle of stainless steel?
Stainless steel is built for both a long and environmentally friendly life cycle. While the precise longevity varies depending on the grade and usage, stainless steel typically lasts for around 50 years. Once the service life is complete, stainless steel is fully recyclable, and more than 80% of “new” stainless steel is actually remelted from stainless steel scrap.
Why is stainless "stainless"?
Ordinary varieties of steel will rust and tarnish if exposed to the elements. While stainless steel also rusts, it does so in a much different manner, forming a protective oxide film on its outer surface rather than the typical red or brown rust we typically see on other metals. This property of stainless steel ensures greater longevity and an improved appearance.
Why is there sometimes nickel in stainless steel?
Nickel, when present in stainless steel in amounts over 7%, helps to further enhance the corrosion resistance of stainless and improve its ductility. Greater ductility means these forms of stainless steel can be worked with at room temperatures by “cold rolling” or “cold working” the steel.
What are the benefits of stainless steel?
First and foremost, stainless steel is highly resistant to corrosion, which has made it a very popular metal choice for many purposes, from architectural to industrial settings. In design and architecture, no considerations need to be made for how the metal will corrode with time. Stainless steel requires minimal maintenance, typically needing only soap and water to restore its surface. Additional benefits of stainless steel include resistance to ultraviolet light and consistency of color throughout its lifespan.
What is Grade 304L stainless steel?
While stainless steel is already a low-carbon metal, Grade 304L has even less. The “L” in 304L can be interpreted as “extra-low carbon,” as 304L includes no more than 0.03% carbon (compared to less than 0.08% for standard 304 stainless steel). Grade 304L is favored for situations where the metal is to be used in an “as-welded” state, as it degrades much slower at the weld joints than 304 would in the same situation.
While stainless steel finishes do not tarnish or rust in the manner typical of other metals, it does require some cleaning and upkeep. Stainless steel used for interior spaces or in areas where exposure to harsh environmental factors is less likely, cleaning with standard soap and water should suffice.
Stainless steel used in outdoor settings can accumulate deposits of salt spray, pollution, or other chemicals and buildups. In most cases, natural rainwater will effectively clean stainless steel in these settings. However, in more sheltered outdoor areas, washing with a mild detergent or pressurized water may be necessary to maintain the appearance of the metal.
Red Metals (Bronze/Brass/Muntz/Naval/Copper)
For copper and related alloys such as bronze and brass (collectively known as “red metals”), greater care and maintenance is typically required. These metals can be cleaned using a solution of 50% lacquer thinners and 50% water to remove dirt, grime, and any traces of oxidation. A lint-free cloth should be used for cleaning; be sure to wipe with the direction of the grain and never against. After cleaning, rinse the surface using clean water, then wipe dry using another clean, dry lint-free cloth.
For aluminum that is not painted, clean using a washcloth or sponge with a combination of warm water and a mild detergent, such as dishwashing liquid. Use caution in removing more difficult patches of grime or dirt, as abrasive pads or cleaners can scratch aluminum more easily than other metals. Baking soda with a moist cloth may work well to remove stains in these cases without creating deep scratches.