What is stainless steel used for?

Stainless steel is used in a plethora of applications, where alternative metals would not be suitable for either practical or aesthetic reasons. Where there is a risk of corrosion, regular carbon steels would need to be coated. However, damage to the coating layer would allow corrosion to proceed. An advantage of stainless steels is that their corrosion resistance is inherent i.e. it derives from the bulk metal. As long as the alloy contains sufficient chromium (>10.5%), then it will produce a very thin passive layer at its surface when exposed to oxygen, which protects the underlying metal from corrosion.

The humble kitchen sink is a good case in point. Galvanised steel containers would eventually wear and corrode, and also not look particularly attractive, whereas coated or enamelled surfaces would be prone to mechanical damage.

For far more aggressive applications, for instance in oil and gas, chemical process industries or marine applications, only stainless steels or even more expensive and exotic alloys could survive for a sufficient period of time.

Between these extremes are many examples of their use. Langley Alloys supplies a number of different grades, which are used in couplings, connectors, pump shafts, valve trim, fasteners, sensors and surveying equipment, accumulators, hydraulic cylinders and marine components.

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