What is bespoke stainless steel?
We all know what stainless steel looks like, but very few people could say what it is made up of. Often, our thoughts will just go straight to cutlery! To put it simply, stainless steel is a generic term for all low carbon steels that contain a minimum of 10% chromium. Chromium is the crucial element that protects bespoke stainless steel against oxygen and prevents it from corroding over time.
There are various forms of stainless steel available which are suitable for different environments. By adding a variety of other elements to the iron alloy, the steel gains additional extra properties, including added strength. These elements can be both metal (nickel, titanium, copper) and non-metal (carbon and nitrogen).
Adding chromium to create bespoke stainless steel
The primary benefit of using stainless steel is how anti-corrosive it is. By adding chromium to an iron alloy, a very thin layer of oxide emerges on the surface of the stainless steel. This is known as the passive layer. It essentially acts as a barrier, preventing any further corrosion from taking place. As a general rule, the more chromium there is in a bespoke stainless steel product, the less corrosive it is. The various levels are known as ‘grades’.
In stainless steels with the highest levels of chromium, you will also find nickel, typically over 8%. Known as Austenitic stainless steels, they provide even greater resistance against corrosion and heat. Please note however, that without low level maintenance, all stainless steel will eventually see some corrosion.
Should the passive chromium oxide layer become damaged in some way, it has the remarkable ability to self-repair. Oxygen present in the surrounding area, including in aerated water, will help form a new film in the affected zone. This film will only corrode to a depth of a couple of atomic layers before stopping. Steels that don’t have chromium simply continuously corrode over time.
Finally, if you add carbon to an iron alloy, you will produce a bespoke stainless steel that is far harder and stronger. Manganese will also improve strength and hardness but is more suitable than carbon for very hot environments.
If you are keen to learn more about stainless steel and the opportunities it can provided, get in touch today.