For many manufacturers, it’s easy to be so focused on their own particular processes that they may not realize the tremendous versatility of the materials they are working with. This is particularly true of stainless steel, one of the world’s most adaptable and diverse metals. With so many alloys and grades available on the market, there’s bound to be one that’s the perfect fit for your particular job.
The Benefits of Choosing Stainless Steel For Your Application
Stainless steel has a number of fantastic properties that have served to make it one of the most popular metals in use today, one of the main reasons why it can be found in so many different applications. Of course the most obvious of those is its corrosion resistance, which is how stainless steel got its name.
Not only does stainless steel have a natural, built-in resistance to rust, but many other forms of corrosion as well. This is due to the chrome that has been added, which bonds with oxygen in the air to form a protective film on its surface. For certain grades, other materials, such as nickel, titanium, and molybdenum, can be added to enhance the corrosion resistance even further.
Of course, like all steel, the stainless variety is extremely strong. The process of creating steel from iron involves lowering the metal’s natural ductility and making it much stronger and durable. To increase this strength even further, certain other alloying agents can be added. For instance, nickel and manganese can boost the tensile strength and stability, chromium increases the hardness and melting point, while vanadium enhances the hardness and makes it less susceptible to metal fatigue.
Another selling point for stainless steel is its natural cleanliness. It is one of the most hygienic materials available to manufacturers and is naturally resistant to bacteria and other pathogens. Its smooth, durable surface also makes it easy to maintain, the primary reason why it is so popular in applications that require a high level of sanitation, such as in the food and beverage and medical industries.
In the same vein, stainless steel so known for its very aesthetic appearance. Its sleek finish has not only made it popular among designers and architects, but it even helped usher in an entire movement, known as Art Deco, starting in the 1930’s.
Furthermore, stainless steel is 100% recyclable, making it more cost effective over the long run than many other materials, not to mention that it is more environmentally friendly. Other benefits include its heat resistance, durability, ease of fabrication and more.
Industries that Rely on Stainless Steel
For most people, the first thing they think of when it comes to stainless steel is cutlery. And for good reason. But when it comes to the food and beverage industry, more than just utensils are commonly made from stainless steel. Plates, bowls, appliances, counter tops, sinks, saucepans, and countless other kitchen items are perfect for stainless steel. Stainless steel is found in homes for personal use, as well as in commercial kitchens and restaurants, and in industrial factories and processing plants that handle food.
Along the same lines, the cleanliness and hygienic nature of stainless steel also makes it perfect for the medical industry. Many medical instruments and surgical tools are made of steel. Not only is its corrosion resistance essential, but its sheer surfaces are easily sterilized. The metal is so prized that it is frequently found in medical implants that are inserted inside the body. Other examples include dental drills, medical trays, operating tables, hemostats, and MRI scanners.
As mentioned above, stainless steel, both because of its tremendous strength and pleasing aesthetic appearance, has been popular in construction and architecture since the 1930’s. The most iconic example of early stainless steel architecture is of course the Chrysler Building in New York City. Typical applications in this area include cladding, handrails, doorframes, window fittings, structural components, reinforcement bars, lighting columns, lintels, and masonry supports.
While stainless steel might be considered too expensive for many construction projects, any time that corrosion resistance is a critical consideration, then the cost quickly becomes worth it. This is especially true of locations in or near marine environments, but also other extreme environments, where exposure to corrosive elements is a major concern. Deep sea oil rigs, power plants, refineries, and other structures rely on stainless steel for this reason.
Corrosion resistance is why stainless steel has also become an indispensible material in the automotive and aerospace industries. It will typically be incorporated into certain parts where rust is especially a concern, including exhaust pipes, radiator grills, and auto bodies. Another use that stainless steel is perfect for is in the transportation of food products, liquids, and chemicals, and is commonly found in shipping containers, tankers, garbage trucks, and ships.
Other industries where you will find stainless steel include the energy and petrochemical industries, renewable energy, pulp and paper, and firearms. Products as varied as jewelry, passenger rail cars, plumbing, microwaves, bridges, and 3D printers. Basically, any application that needs to ensure its cleanliness or durability will likely be better off with stainless steel.
At Clinton Aluminum, we know that your success depends on not only choosing the right material for the job, but streamlining your production process to make it as competitive and cost effective as possible. Our friendly and knowledgeable professionals pride themselves on being more than just a supplier. We want to be true partners and we understand that our success depends on the success of our clients.
Our experienced and dedicated team of technical professionals is standing by to assist you at any time. If you have questions about any of our products or services offerings, don’t hesitate to contact us today.