Comparison between stainless steel and other metals
Stainless steel is an alloy of iron, chromium and other metals like nickel etc. It is an environment-friendly material and has many characteristics such as durability, longevity and hygiene. It plays an important function in many industries such as energy, transportation, building, research, medicine, food and logistics.
Wide Properties of Stainless Steel
- Stainless steel is a unique, aesthetic material available in a great variety of surface finishes from matt to bright. It is often used by architects in interiors, furniture and fixtures.
- Stainless steel has strong mechanical properties at both high and low temperatures. It is a highly ductile, elastic and hard material and resistant to wear and tear.
- Stainless steel is the best fire resistance material when used in structural applications, having a critical temperature of 800 degrees or above.
- Stainless steel, an alloy of chromium, is well protected with a passive layer of chromium oxide that forms naturally on the surface giving it a property of corrosion resistance. When the surface is scratched, it regenerates itself.
- Stainless steel items are easy to clean and do not get damaged easily.
- Stainless steel is a “green material” and is infinitely recyclable.
Stainless steels or SS are available in 5 categories based on the alloying elements added and thereby offering different solutions.
- Austenitic S300
- Austenitic with Manganese (200 series)
- Ferritic or 400 series
- Austeno- Ferritics or Duplex
Because of so many characteristics, stainless steel has wide usage in many industries.
- The most well-known application for stainless steels is probably for cutlery and kitchenware as they are easy to clean and maintain.
- Stainless steels are widely used in industries like chemical and oil & gas and have created a large market for stainless tanks, stainless steel pipes and tubes, pumps and valves.
- Stainless steel pipes are used in nuclear power plants because of anti-corrosive properties.
- Stainless steel pipes are also used in mines as it is a safe and reliable material.
- Stainless steels are extensively used in the power generation industry to combat corrosion, particularly at elevated temperatures.
- Stainless steel is used in food production and storage.
- Stainless steel pipes and tubes are also used in the transportation of natural gas.
- It is used in architecture, building and construction industry. SS pipe is widely used because of its corrosion-resistant property.
- A great deal of medical equipment – such as orthopaedic beds, cabinets and machines is made as standard from stainless because of its hygienic and easy-clean qualities.
- SS Stainless steel is widely used in automotive industries as well.
Comparison of Stainless steel and other metals
We will be comparing stainless steel and other metals in terms of durability, strength, appearance, usage and cost.
- Mild Steel
Mild steel is made using carbon whereas stainless steel is made with chromium as its alloy. The 2 different alloys produce different results in corrosion resistance, malleability, strength, ease of fabrication and cost.
Due to alloy with chromium, stainless steel has higher corrosion resistance than mild steel. The chrome in the stainless steel reacts with the oxygen in the air producing a natural ‘chromium oxide’ protecting the surface of the metal and making it naturally corrosion resistant. Mild steel, on the other hand, does not have this protective layer and is more prone to rust. Therefore, it requires further processing such as galvanizing to save it from rusting.
As chrome is a hard alloy, stainless steels are not as easy to fabricate as mild steel. Stainless steel is less malleable material compared to Mild steel and therefore, mild steel is used extensively in fabrication.
Stainless steel is the more expensive alloy than mild steel however the benefits are huge as an aesthetic metal with superb corrosion resistance and low maintenance.
Steel is made by adding iron and carbon and therefore it hardens the iron. Stainless steel is corrosion resistant and steel is more prone to stains and rust. Steel is slightly stronger and harder than stainless steel. Stainless steel is generally non-magnetic i.e. the 304 grade of stainless steel contains chromium and nickel, which make it non-magnetic whereas steel is magnetic. Steel is dull with only matte finish whereas its counterpart stainless steel is lustrous. The coating of chromium on stainless steel makes it shiny.
Steel on the other hand is more malleable and durable and the heat distribution is also proper as compared to stainless steel. Stainless steel has lower thermal conductivity when compared to steel. The steel is stiffer and stronger. They are extensively used in motors and electrical appliances due to their magnetic properties and welding can be done easily in steel as compared to stainless steel. Steel is commonly used and its price is also low as compared to stainless steel.
Aluminium is a lightweight metal whereas stainless steel is stronger and heavier. Aluminium is about one-third of the weight of stainless steel and therefore used in industries such as aeroplane and bicycle manufacturing. Though Stainless steel is stronger, the strength to weight ratio of aluminium is much better.
Aluminium is a lighter metal and therefore it is more cost-effective. Both materials are corrosive resistant and used in the manufacturing and construction industry.
Stainless steel is the worst conductor of electricity in comparison to its counterpart aluminium, which is a very good conductor of electricity. Likewise, when it comes to heat, aluminium is a better heat conductor.
Aluminium is easier to work with as it is relatively soft and easier to cut, stretch and manipulate. You can bend aluminium into any shape and form without breaking it and it is a lot easier to work than with stainless steel.
Stainless steel has great properties like corrosion resistance, thermal resistance and resistance to electrical conductivity and therefore, has paved their way in many industries in comparison to their counterparts. It is extremely strong and easy to fabricate and clean. A common grade used is 304SS which is non-magnetic and can be easily hardened when compared to other steels and metals.
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