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What is Stainless Steel and How is It Made?

09 September 2022

One of the primary reasons people pick stainless steel is its benefits and physical features, the most well-known of which is its corrosion resistance, but there are many more. The fact that stainless steel is resistant to high and a low temperature implies that it may be employed in various applications and industries. While certain stainless steels keep muscular strength at high temperatures, others maintain excellent mechanical qualities at cryogenic temperatures.

The sheer strength of stainless steel is a fundamental reason for its usage, which has been demonstrated by its application in the building and construction industries. Many people like stainless steel because of its visual appeal. Stainless steel is available in various surface treatments, and its ability to be polished makes it aesthetically beautiful. Its lengthy life cycle makes it appropriate for usage in structures and differentiates it from other items by outlasting many of them.

HOW IS STAINLESS STEEL MADE?

In the later phases, the specific procedure for a grade of stainless steel will change. How a grade of steel is formed, worked, and polished dramatically impacts how it appears and performs. You must first develop the molten alloy before making a deliverable steel product. As a result, most steel grades have similar initial steps.

  • Melting of Raw Materials

The several stainless steel components are heated to their melting points in a furnace (usually an electric furnace for current stainless steel production applications). This procedure might take between 8 and 12 hours. Once the metal is melted, the following process in stainless steel fabrication may begin.

  • Removing the Carbon Content

Carbon contributes to the hardness and strength of iron. Too much carbon, on the other hand, might lead to problems like carbide precipitation during welding. Before casting molten stainless steel, calibration and carbon content reduction to the appropriate level are necessary. Foundries can manage carbon content in two methods:

  • The first method is through Argon Oxygen Decarburization (AOD). Injecting an argon gas combination into molten steel decreases the carbon level while preserving other critical constituents.
  • Vacuum Oxygen Decarburization is another procedure employed (VOD). This procedure involves transferring molten steel to another chamber where oxygen is introduced into the steel while heat is applied. A vacuum removes the vented gases from the section, further decreasing carbon concentration.

Both technologies provide precision carbon content management to ensure suitable mixing and specific properties in the finished stainless steel product.

  • Tuning and Stirring

The molten steel is churned to help disperse and remove specific stainless steel components from the mixture to assist in fine-tuning the quality of the final product and helping to guarantee that the stainless steel is of consistent quality and meets the criteria of end customers (like Marlin Steel).

  • Forming or Casting

The foundry must now build the primitive form utilized to cool and manipulate the steel once the molten steel generate. The final result will determine the precise shape and size. Typical forms include:

  • Blooms
  • Billets
  • Slabs
  • Rods
  • Tubes

Forms are then labeled with an identification to help monitor the batch through the different operations that will take place. The following processes will vary based on the target grade and ultimate product or function. Plates, strips, and sheets are formed from slabs. Blooms and billets are transformed into bars and cables. Steel may repeat some of these procedures depending on the grade or format requested to get the required look or properties.

The stages listed below are the most frequent.

  • Metal Fabrication (forming the metal)

As the stainless steel cools, it is subjected to several shaping procedures, beginning with hot rolling while the steel is still above its crystallization temperature. Hot rolling helps to form steel and is frequently used to generate billets or blooms of metal. The stainless steel may be cold rolled to produce metal blooms or billets with specified specifications.

  • Annealing

Most steel tempers after it is formed with controlled heating and cooling cycles. These cycles aid in steel's softening and relieving internal stress. The steel grade will determine the precise temperatures and periods involved, with heating and cooling speeds influencing the final result. Heat treatment cannot harden austenitic stainless steel. Instead, these steels harden as they function (they attain hardness during manufacture and formation). This treatment is carried out at high temperatures, often above 1000°C.

Annealing these stainless steels softens them, increases their elasticity, and improves their corrosion resistance. It does deliver heat at temperatures ranging from 1000 to 1100°.

  • Cutting and Shaping

Most steel tempers after it has been formed with controlled heating and cooling cycles. These cycles aid in steel's softening and relieving internal stress. The steel grade will determine the precise temperatures and periods involved, with heating and cooling speeds influencing the final result.

  • Finishing

Stainless steel comes in a range of finishes, from matte to mirror. Finishing is one of the final stages in the manufacturing process. Acid or sand etching, sandblasting, belt grinding, belt buffing, and belt polishing are all standard processes. The steel is now collected in its final state and prepared for shipment to the client. Rolls and coils are traditional methods for storing and shipping large amounts of stainless steel for various industrial processes.

However, the final shape depends on the type of steel used and other order-specific parameters.

QUALITY CONTROL

Marlin Steel experts do finite element evaluations on each design before finalizing a stainless steel basket or product. Marlin Steel uses top-of-the-line FEA software to maintain quality control because it offers exact simulations in minutes, saving significant time, labor, and materials compared to manual testing techniques. During this investigation, the software mimics different weight distributions on the basket at various temperatures and after exposure to certain chemicals.

The experts can discover any faults before finishing the project by assessing these impacts, assuring the customer obtains a stainless steel basket of the most excellent quality.

CONCLUSION:

Understanding the appropriate stainless steel grades and kinds for specific purposes and conditions is critical to guaranteeing long-term outcomes and cost optimization. There is a stainless steel alloy to fit your demands, whether you need something robust and corrosion-resistant for maritime settings or beautiful and simple to clean for restaurant usage.

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