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Why Is Stainless Steel Considered Stainless?

What Is Steel?

Steels are all alloys, which are chemical concoctions of several elements. Iron is the primary component of all steel. Because pure iron is relatively soft and brittle and hence unsuitable for mechanical operations, it is rarely used in industrial applications. But because iron is the most prevalent metal in the crust of the Earth, it is plentiful, simple to extract, and inexpensive.

It was found somewhere in antiquity that adding up to 2% of carbon to iron produces steel, a relatively short composition we now refer to as “mild steel.” This finding was very revolutionary, and ever since then, we’ve been experimenting with the formula to make other types of steel.

It’s critical to remember that steel possesses outstanding mechanical qualities for which there are no marketable alternatives, meaning steel will be around for a very long time. It is robust, readily worked, less expensive than aluminum, more potent than aluminum, and doesn’t shatter or crack like carbon fiber. However, mild steel has limits, particularly when exposed to the elements.

What Is Rust?

The element oxygen is one of the most chemically reactive ones. It enjoys combining with other substances to form new chemical compounds. Rust, or iron oxide, is created when it combines with iron. Unless the surface is protected with a treatment like painting, galvanizing, or powder coating, this will happen to mild steel very quickly. Although each surface treatment has advantages, water will eventually get inside and produce rust. As we all know, rust degrades the substrate’s mechanical properties, leading to eventual failure. It’s also unattractive.

What Is Stainless Steel?

The key to preventing rust is to block oxygen from bonding with iron. Getting something else to bind with the iron is the best method. After extensive testing, it was found that mild steel may be given a new, rust-free alloy called stainless by adding up to 10% chromium. By the way, Sheffield, England, became known for producing some of the world’s best cutlery because of this invention, which occurred there in the 1930s.

Although stainless is more expensive and less durable than mild steel in many applications, it can withstand the corrosive effects of water and many other substances. Today, metallurgists experiment with trace additions like manganese, copper, and nickel to create stronger steels that maintain their rust-free properties.

How Do We Use Stainless Steel in Manufacturing?

Through CNC machining and metal 3D printing, we produce finished components out of stainless steel daily. Some alloys can be used for implants, dentures, and medical devices because they are biocompatible.

Stainless steel is used to create the tools and dies used in pressure die casting and plastic injection molding. There are primarily two causes for this. One is that higher chromium content tool steels, such as P20 or NAK80, can take an adorable polish and produce glossy finishes on the molded parts. Additionally, they can withstand the corrosive chemical attack of some plastic resins, like PVC.

What Kind of Stainless Do We Use?

Any grade of stainless steel that is commercially accessible can be purchased and used by us. We employ four basic types for the majority of our routine work:

  • Type 303

Most CNC machining tasks employ this stainless steel because it is softer and has a relatively high sulfur content. The heat introduced during the machining process does not affect the hardness because it is non-magnetic and does not receive heat treatment (work hardening). However, it is slightly less corrosion-resistant than type 304 because of the added sulfur.

  • Type 304

It is more complex than type 303 and has more excellent corrosion resistance. Although it takes a little longer to operate the machine than type 303, the end part is more vital. The most typical kind of stainless steel utilized in production is this one.

  • Type 316L

A particular type of stainless steel contains more molybdenum than carbon. This increases its resistance to corrosion beyond that of type 304. Additionally, due to its low carbon content, it does not carburize or emit strong smells when welded. This is frequently employed in marine applications where saltwater can harm other steels. It’s perfect for metal 3D printing because it doesn’t emit fumes when welded.

  • Type S136

Stainless steel with an exceptionally high purity level. Because the steel takes a very high polish, it is typically utilized for plastic injection mold tools where the molded object must be an optically clear plastic lens.

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