Stainless steel is a metallurgical product, an alloy of steel and chromium with minimum 10.5% of chromium. Unlike ordinary steel, it has great resistance to corrosion and it does not rust easily even after coming in contact with water or moisture. However, it has certain inclination to staining under conditions of rarefied-oxygen and poor air-circulation. Stainless steel comes in different grades, each made for a specific purpose. Stainless steel is strong like ordinary steel (which has only carbon content for alloy), and resistant to corrosion. The presence of chromium in stainless steel provides it with invisible protective film that thwarts the oxidation of the steel and thus eliminating the possibility of formation of iron oxide on the steel surface, which is flaky in nature, and falls of causing corrosion to the steel.
Stainless steel comes in different grades. Different grades of steel are used for different purposes. The chromium content in the stainless steel can be varied to get different grades of steel with varying strengths. Stainless grades can be further refined or altered so that they can sustain high temperatures and have increased strength.
Stainless steel comes in many different grades. Some of the common and popular ones are 301, 301LN, 304/304L, 316/316L and 321 grade plates. These grades belong to austenitic stainless steel family. The versatility of austenitic steel makes it highly suitable for stainless steel. Stainless steel plates of grade 304 are resistant to corrosion but the grade 316/316L stainless steel plates perform even better against corrosion due to higher concentration or percentage of nickel than 304/304L. This high resistance to corrosion makes them highly desirable for marine related jobs. Each grade has its own specific utility; if you want to use stainless steel plates to withstand high temperatures without suffering any damage then grade 321 stainless steel plates are an excellent choice. Grade 321 stainless steel plates can withstand temperature up to 900C whereas grade 304 can be safely used only unto 500C.
Useful Properties of Stainless Steel
- Stainless steel with high corrosion resistance is achieved with higher concentration of chromium, nearly up to 13%. In some extreme cases the concentration of chromium is raised to over 25%. The invisible layer of chromium on steel surface protects it from rusting.
- Stainless steel is generally resistant to acid attacks, but again this depends on the surrounding environment and the steel grade along with the concentration of the acid. Steel grades like 304 are not preferred for use against acids like sulfuric acid; steel grade type 904 is better suited for that.
- Most of the stainless steel grades are resistant to weak bases at room temperatures, although they show some cracking against strong bases at higher temperatures.
Applications of Stainless Steel
Stainless steel plates are used in a wide range of applications.
- Due to their corrosive resistant property these are extensively used in making vessels for chemical processes.
- Their strength and finish makes them an ideal candidate for architectural applications as well. The strength of stainless steel is unmatched and these are often used for making strong structures like bridges.
- The stainless steel plates are used for making conveyers and have a wide range of applications in marine industry.
- They are highly desirable for making heat exchangers. Food processing and handling industry is no stranger to the use of stainless steel plates.
- These plates are highly used for making pharmaceutical equipment.
These are just some of the applications but stainless steel plates are not limited to these applications alone and find their use in various other fields as well. The stainless steel plates are also used in making railway coaches. Some of the earlier aircraft were also made using stainless steel although now steel is not the preferred material because of its weight.
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