The term “Stainless steel” refers to a number of types of steel that are resistant to corrosion. First discovered by chance in 1913 by Henry Brearley in Sheffield while investigating the application of different metals for use in armaments; the first mass application of stainless steel was in the manufacture of cutlery, for which Sheffield became renowned.
Stainless steels have broad range of advantageous properties over standard carbon mild steel. Generally speaking, stainless steels are highly corrosive-resistant; they are an iron-based allow containing upwards of 10% chromium. Chromium creates an oxide layer which gives protects the metal from corrosion, and will gradually regenerate or ‘self-heal’ even if damaged. Different grades of stainless steel exist with differing degrees of resistance, and these may contain chromium, molybdenum, or nickel.
Stainless steels are also very resistant to low temperatures. This cryogenic resistance allows them to maintain a high degree of toughness and ductility even in sub-zero conditions.
Different types of Stainless steel exist, each with their preferred applications. They can be found in everything from household cutlery and common machine parts to aerospace projects, nuclear power facilities and medical tools.