Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Recipe for Stainless Steel

Since its debut in the early 20th century, stainless steel has become the quintessential metal for a vast range of functions. It's basically steel with a form of protection, particularly from rusting. Stainless steel tools and storage, however, wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for trial and error. Before the 10.5 percent chromium requirement, scientists had to test different ratios to determine the best mix for this modern-age material.

Most initial batches of stainless steel failed because the scientists failed to understand one important thing. For stainless steel to retain its strength and rust resistance, it has to have a low carbon content, which wasn't considered until the late 1800s. French scientists J.B. Boussingalt and Alme Brustlein realized the importance of keeping the carbon content low, around 0.15 percent, allowing the steel to be shaped into different forms.

By the early 1900s, German scientists P. Monnartz and W. Borchers recognized the importance of adding chromium to the mix, at least 10.5 percent of it. They also tested the feasibility of other metals such as molybdenum in corrosion resistance, paving the way for different stainless steel compositions. Decades of trial and error helped develop stainless steel to what it is today. From shelves to structural frames, it has stood the test of time and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

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