The origins of stainless steel are subject to some debate. The general view is that they were developed by Harry Brearley, who was trying to develop more wear-resistant steel for gun barrels on behalf of Firth-Rixson, Sheffield, UK. Whilst testing samples in a friend’s cutlery factory, he discovered that those containing >10.5% chromium were resistant to attack by vinegar, which was a common test for cutlery. The term ‘stainless steel’ instead of ‘rustless steel’ was captioned as a result in 1911.
There are similar stories to this originating from manufacturers in Germany, Sweden and the USA, associated with developments for a wide range of applications including razor blades. Whilst any of these activities may lay valid claim to the invention of stainless steels, the creation of the ‘stainless’ prefix holds greater import for most.
Below is a short timeline of the key moments of the history of stainless steel –
With over 80 years’ experience and expertise, Langley Alloys Limited has developed a worldwide reputation for supplying unique stainless steels for demanding applications. Operating from locations in the UK, the United States and Singapore, we carry extensive stocks of advanced stainless steels in bar, plate and tube form. For more information about our product range, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly.