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What is stainless steel and what makes it so special?

stainless steel


Stainless steel is a product so common in our lives that we seldom think about it. No matter how you spend your day, you are likely to be in contact with stainless steel. This metal alloy is so prevalent that the single word “stainless” is usually sufficient.

Stainless has a combination of unique properties that differentiate it from other metal alloys. These include:

  • Does not secrete flavors to food or water
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Ideal for piping systems for transporting liquids
  • Rust or corrosion resistance
  • Shiny
  • Strength and durability
  • Used in automotive and other heavy manufacturing

Stainless steel is prominent in food production facilities, food service, hospitals and laboratories, petrochemical processing, solar energy systems, refining, and much more. Anywhere that sanitation, durability, and low maintenance are a requirement, stainless steel will likely be present.

Learn how hot-dip galvanization protects your pipe from corrosion and extends  the life of your piping system when you download "The Expert’s Guide to Hot-Dip  Galvanization" →

How is Stainless Steel Produced?

Steel is an iron-based alloy made from a combination of several elements. The main ingredient that creates rust-resistance and shininess is chromium.

Other elements are added that impart specific attributes to the finished product. These can be, silicon, nickel, carbon, nitrogen, and manganese. Nitrogen, for example, gives the steel its pliability or tensile strength.

There are six steps to making and forming this alloy before the finished sheets are sent to the fabricator to be converted into finished form.

Manufacturing steps are:

  1. Melting: All the ingredients are melted together and then cast into forms called blooms, billets, slabs, rods, or tube rounds, depending on their later use.
  2. Forming: These raw configurations are heated again and passed through a forming process to convert blooms and billets to bar or wire while slabs become plates of sheets.
  3. Heat Treatment: Once more, heat is applied to anneal or heat treat at various high temperatures to impart specific properties depending on the end use of the material. 
  4. Descaling: During the prior heat-treating process, a scaly coating can form on the steel as it cools. An acid bath removes the thin crust and restores the natural shine to the steel.
  5. Cutting- The stainless steel is cut to create a uniform shape for shipping by using mechanical, flame, or plasma jet cutters.
  6. Finishing: Depending on the ultimate application, the stainless will be:
    1. polished smooth for sanitary uses
    2. rough-polished for further industrial uses

Heated rollers and abrasive polishers create the final surface appearance of the metal before it’s shipped to the fabricator to convert the newly manufactured steel into its ultimate form.

Contact APP Manufacturing for More Information

APP Manufacturing Is a leading manufacturer of piping systems accessories, supports, and hangers for the refining, petrochemical, marine, solar, and other industries. Stainless steel is an essential component of what we do.

If you have questions about this or other related issues, please contact the team at APP at 888-408-9872 or 713-956-2922.