What are the Different Grades of Stainless Steel

What are the different grades of stainless steel? With over 150 grades of this stain and corrosion resistant metal available, the question can seem daunting. Luckily, only a handful of stainless steel grades are commonly used.

What Are The Different Grades Of Stainless Steel Most In Use?
Stainless steel is created when chromium and other elements are added to iron to strengthen and help protect steel from rust. When chromium reacts with oxygen, it forms a protective layer of chromium oxide that inhibits staining and corrosion. Stainless steel is graded by the amount of alloy material added and the strength of the steel. Some of the most common stainless steel grades are:

  • Your basic stainless. Ferritic stainless steel is named for the crystal structure of the material. Ferritic stainless steel is the simplest type of stainless steel, combining iron (Fe) and chromium (Cr). Type 430 is the most common grade of ferritic steel and is used for automobile trim and to create internal components for home appliances.
  • Turning up the heat. Adding carbon (C) and heat-treating the material at high temperatures can increase the hardness of stainless steel. This type of stainless steel forms crystals called martensite. Martensitic steel is strong and hard, but can be brittle making it a challenge to work with. Type 420 is a typical grade used to make knives, blades for razors and bearings that are corrosion resistant.
  • A nickel for your thoughts. The most common type of stainless steel contains nickel (Ni), which gives the material a crystal structure known as austenite. Austenitic stainless steel provides corrosion resistance, while being easy to shape and weld. Type 304, also known as 18/8, is the most widely used grade of stainless steel in the world. Austenitic stainless steel is used in sinks, building materials and commercial food preparation equipment.
  • Out to sea. When molybdenum (Mo) is added to stainless steel, it greatly increases its resistance to corrosion. This is particularly helpful in marine environments and where acid is present. Type 316 stainless steel is the grade most often used to create boat parts and chemical handling equipment.
  • Doubling up. By combining ferritic and austenitic crystals, duplex stainless steel is created. The dual crystal structure of duplex stainless steel makes it resistant to cracking from corrosive stress. Type 2205 is a grade of stainless steel that is useful in creating hot water tanks and other containers designed to hold corrosive materials.
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