Stainless steel is arguably one of the greatest inventions in human history. With millions of applications spanning across every major industry, the production of the metal alloy continues to rise globally. In 2019, worldwide steel production was approximated at 52.2 million metric tons, more than doubling from a decade before.
Stainless steel comes in a variety of grades, such as 302 stainless steel. With over 3500 grades to choose from, it can be challenging for fabricators to find the right grade. Here are five tips to guide you during the selection process.
1. Operating Environment
The metal alloy or combined metals are forged from a combination of steel and other metals such as chromium and nickel. Steel’s anti-corrosive properties and versatility make it vital in countless applications in industries such as construction, automobiles, food and beverage, medical, and chemical processing, to name a few.
You need to find a steel grade that will uphold the best in a given environment. Think about the conditions that the steel product will face. High temperatures, varying pH levels, stress, and corrosion may impact the functionality of your steel. Austenitic grades such as 302 stainless steel, 304, and 316 series retain their strength, corrosion resistance, and toughness properties on a broad temperature range.
2. Mechanical Qualities
Next, you may need to give importance to mechanical qualities, such as strength, ductility, and toughness. Strength refers to the stress that a metal can withstand before deforming or fracturing. Ductility relates to the ability of a metal to have its shape changed. Toughness is the ability to deform and absorb energy before a metal fracture.
Stainless steel contains 10-30% chromium that aids in corrosion prevention. Nickel addition in austenitic grades like 302 stainless provides the highest toughness and ductility. Martensitic steels, like grade 440C, provide the best strength.
3. Corrosion Resistance
While stainless steel gets a good rap for being corrosion resistant, it varies greatly among the different grades. Austenitic grades such as 316, 304, and 302 stainless steel are among the most sought after for corrosion resistance due to high levels of chromium. Ferritic steel grades and martensitic are more affordable but will have fewer percentages of nickel and chromium.
If the application of the stainless steel casts requires good formability, it would be wise to avoid martensitic grades. These grades often tend to be brittle and not formable. Austenitic grades such as 304 stainless steel or 302 stainless steel would be an excellent choice. Ferritic grades such as 430 can also work.
5. Material Cost and Availability
You may need to find out the common applications of the different grades of steel to help you choose the right one for your project. Alloy 302 stainless steel is commonly used in stamping and spinning. Ferritic grade 409 is majorly in automotive exhaust systems, while austenitic 316L is for chemical applications that require welding. Austenitic steel grades are usually the most expensive upfront. Carefully examine the cost, needs, and availability of the thin sheet metal before settling for one.
Stainless steel is useful for a wide range of applications due to the versatility in steel grades. Finding the right steel to use is vital in reducing maintenance, downtime, and replacement costs. Thin Metal Sales provides the highest quality of custom premium grade stainless steel sheets. Contact us now to discuss your stainless steel grade needs.
As of 2016, there are an estimated 138,900 sheet metal workers in the United States, and a good number of them work with stainless steel. Stainless steel has many structural properties that make it suitable for automotive applications, such as being non-magnetic and resistant to corrosion. Apart from these, there are various other reasons why car manufacturers are increasingly using 304 stainless steel over other metal alloys. Let’s explore the following five reasons.
1. It Has Structural Integrity and Crashworthiness
Crashworthiness and reliable safety systems are critical for keeping passengers safe in vehicles. In the past, manufacturers preferred to use carbon stainless steel for its ability to absorb impact. Carbon stainless is still widely used in many applications because it is cost-effective.
However, in recent years, 304 stainless steel has proven to be more beneficial for noise and vibration reduction. Additionally, thin steel sheet can effectively absorb energy, resist rusting, and has exceptional formability. These features make the metal suitable for building structural parts of the car.
2. It’s Suitable for Gaskets and Fittings
Stainless steel is also becoming the metal of choice for gaskets, screws, horse fittings, and windscreen parts. One of the reasons manufacturers favor 304 stainless steel is because of its heat resistance and anti-corrosion properties. It is better than other grades of combined metals since it is strong but also aesthetically pleasing.
Automobiles today need to resist corrosion and heat while using safe materials. In the past, toxic materials like asbestos were placed between two sheets of metal to absorb heat. However, modern gaskets have between three and five metal sheets of 304 stainless steel. The assembly can handle high temperatures while complying with regulations.
3. It Creates a Protective Passive Film
Thin sheet metal can form a protective layer to resist corrosion and harsh elements of the weather. If there is damage to the coating, it can regenerate in an oxidizing atmosphere. For that reason, stainless steel is one of the best structural parts of the car exposed to moisture and chemicals.
4. It’s Cleaner and Has More Reliable Fuel Tanks
Modern cars need fuel tanks that can handle very high temperatures and toxic chemicals. This is partly due to the fuel delivery technology that returns unused fuel to the tank. Its outer surface also has to resist chemicals, dust, and grime.
Other than being resistant to corrosion and heat, stainless steel will hardly absorb chemicals. Therefore, it results in lower emissions than other materials used for fuel tanks. Automobile manufacturers are also using 304 stainless steel for its affordability and formability.
5. It Has Better Performance for Catalytic Converters
Catalytic converters can reduce the emission of exhaust from the car engine. For a long time, the most widely used material has been ceramic due to its heat resistant properties. Unfortunately, ceramic can be heavy and bulky. The most recent converters use a minimal quantity of ceramic mixed with stainless steel.
304 stainless steel has another advantage for catalytic converters in that it can conduct electricity. The material can be pre-heated so that the exhaust is warm when you start the car. More manufacturers are utilizing the alloy for modern automobiles thanks to its reliability.
304 stainless steel has many useful features that are not just limited to the automobile industry. Before you choose thin metal sheets for your applications, consult a supplier with experience in providing quality grade stainless steel.