In 1912, Harry Brearley of Sheffield, England, while in the process of exploring corrosion-resistant alloys to be used for gun barrels, discovered a rust-less steel, the first stainless steel. The discovery appeared two years later in the January 1915 edition of The New York Times. Stainless steels are iron alloys and must meet requirements for corrosion resistance according to its type and grade. The corrosion resistance increases the more the chromium content, with a minimum content of 10.5%. Adding molybdenum also increases the corrosion resistance by the reduction of acids. Nickel, titanium or copper are also sometimes added to add strength or formability. Production of stainless steel is comprised of a series of procedures. First, the raw materials, consisting of iron ore, chromium, and other additives, are combined and melted together in the intense heat of an electric furnace. The mixture is then cast into one of a range of shapes such as rods, tubes or slabs. Blooms are rectangular shaped, billets are round or square.
The semi-finished steel then goes through a forming process. The steel is again heated and formed into bars, wire, plates, strips, or sheets. Most types then go through heat treatment called annealing, to relieve internal stress, soften the steel or for higher strength. Annealing causes a scale build-up on the steel, so the next step is descaling. Several processes can be used to remove the scale, but the most common method is called pickling, which is a nitric-hydrofluoric acid bath. The final steps are cutting the steel to the desired shapes, and finishing or polishing the steel. The product is now ready to be sent to the fabricator. The fabricator uses a variety of methods to further shape the steel. Additional heat treatments, machining, and cleaning are often required to meet specifications.
Numerous grades of stainless steels are used in multiple manufacturing products and in industrial projects. The steel can be formed into sheets, bars, wire, or plates and is frequently used in cookware and cutlery. Due to it’s resistance to corrosion, and the ability to be sterilized, it is often used in major appliances, commercial kitchens, and surgical instruments. Construction materials are often made of stainless steel and used in large buildings. Numerous industrial uses of stainless steel include storage tanks and chemical tankers. Because of its durability, stainless steel is frequently used in the building of bridges.
Over 150 businesses are involved in the fabrication and machining of stainless steel are found in Gold Coast, Queensland Australia. With such a wide variety and number of stainless steel gold coast manufacturers and fabricators, we can be assured that research will further develop and improve as well as create unique stainless steel materials.
Stainless steel is providing life-saving solutions in the desalination industry because of its resistance to corrosion from seawater. In parts of the world where water is a precious resource, stainless steel is making a difference. Stainless steel will certainly continue to be key in the production of safe drinking water.