Types of Stainless Steel

Types of Stainless Steel

Stainless steel, an alloy made of two metals, is commonly used in all fields. In this article, you will find information on the different types of stainless steel.
Stainless steel, a kind of steel, is an alloy of iron and chromium. The presence of chromium in it makes it stainless. It is widely used for construction purposes as well as in household articles. As it contains chromium, it is resistant to stains, rust, and corrosion. As stainless steel can be easily melted and recycled, it is also environmental friendly. As it is ductile, long-lasting and considerably inexpensive as compared to other metals.

Varieties of Stainless Steel

The minimum chromium content in stainless steel has to be 10.5-11%. Stainless steel can be divided into five major types and applications.
  • Austenitic: Austenitic stainless steel, also known as the 300 series, is the most common and abundantly used steel. It contains 0.15% carbon and 16% chromium, along with other elements like nickel, nitrogen, and manganese. It is ductile and highly resistant to corrosion. Type 304 or T304 is the most commonly used type of stainless steel. It is the classic 18/8 stainless steel. It is used for making shafts, pumps, etc.
  • Martensitic: It is a high carbon containing steel, having a higher carbon level (nearly 1%) and 18% chromium. It also contains other elements like nickel and molybdenum. It can be hardened by heat. It possesses magnetic properties. It is resistant to corrosion but is less durable than austenitic steel. It is usually used in making molds, surgical instruments, and cutlery.
  • Ferritic: Both ferritic and martensitic stainless steel types are known as the 400 series. Ferritic steel contains 10.5% carbon and up to 27% chromium. It is less ductile, cannot be hardened by heating, but possesses magnetic properties. It is not tough and less durable than austenitic stainless steel. Ferritic steel can be effectively used in sea water as it is highly resistant to corrosion. It is also used in washing machines and boilers.
  • Duplex: It is a mixture of microstructures of austenitic and ferritic steel (in a 50/50 percentage ). It contains a higher amount of chromium and a lower amount of nickel. As it is a mixture of the two types of stainless steel, it is tough, resistant to corrosion and stress, and may also show some magnetic properties. 'Superduplex' is the best quality of stainless steel, and is widely used as it has the highest corrosion resistive properties.
  • Precipitation Hardening: It hardens at a relatively lower temperature. In the initial stage, it is austenitic. Sometimes, other elements are added to it in order to make it tougher. Precipitation hardened stainless steel can be transformed into different shapes by heating. It is as corrosion resistant as austenitic steel. Although it is prominently used in making aircraft components, it is also used in making shafts and pumps.
Based on these types, stainless steel is graded in about 150 grades, viz. from 100 series up to 600 series. There are many types in the 300 and 400 series. Using and cleaning stainless steel is very easy, simple, and comfortable. As it has literally no maintenance costs and is highly durable, it is found nearly everywhere, in every field, be it at home, commercial areas or in industries.