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Stainless Steel


The term ‘stainless steel’ covers a wide range of iron alloys that are generally resistant to oxidation and corrosion. As well as a minimum chromium content of 10.5%, several other metallic elements can be added to add functionality to the final product. These include nickel, molybdenum, copper and titanium. Non-metallic additions to stainless steel include carbon and nitrogen.


The anti-corrosion properties of stainless steel are what make the material so desirable for manufacturing and other industrial uses. Other elements are added to imbue the metal with added qualities, such as formability. Stainless steel is strong, highly tensile and requires little maintenance. Furthermore, it can be re-used many times over. Architects often choose stainless steel for its aesthetic qualities when designing buildings and developing internal and external architectural features.


The first stainless steel is thought to have been created by Harry Brearley in 1913, when he produced a corrosion resistant metal containing 12.8% chromium and 0.24% carbon. In the production process, the chromium creates a thin layer of oxide on the surface of the metal, known as the ‘passive layer’. It is this layer that protects against corrosion.


Where there is a requirement for materials to be corrosion-resistant, then stainless steel is the most obvious metal of choice. There are over 150 types of stainless steel, divided into four main groups: austenitic (the most common non-magnetic form), martensitic (extra-strength), ferritic (magnetic with reduced anti-corrosion properties) and duplex (50/50 mix of austentic and ferritic), all offering a huge number of applications.

  • Architecture and construction
  • Cutlery and cookware
  • Surgical instruments and razor blades
  • Infrastructure, such as bridges
  • Transportation, including car, trains and aviation

Interesting Fact

The name ‘stainless’ steel was first used when the cutlery company, R.F. Mosley, first used the word ‘stainless’ to describe a range of knives that couldn’t be stained by vinegar.

Stainless Steel – Grade 304

Property Minimum Value (S.I.) Maximum Value (S.I.) Units (S.I.) Minimum Value (Imp.) Maximum Value (Imp.) Units (Imp.)
Atomic Volume (average) 0.0069 0.0072 m3/kmol 421.064 439.371 in3/kmol
Density 7.85 8.06 Mg/m3 490.06 503.17 lb/ft3
Energy Content 89 108 MJ/kg 9642.14 11700.6 kcal/lb
Bulk Modulus 134 151 GPa 19.435 21.9007 106 psi
Compressive Strength 205 310 MPa 29.7327 44.9617 ksi
Ductility 0.3 0.57 0.3 0.57 NULL
Elastic Limit 205 310 MPa 29.7327 44.9617 ksi
Endurance Limit 175 260 MPa 25.3816 37.7098 ksi
Fracture Toughness 119 228 MPa.m1/2 108.296 207.491 ksi.in1/2
Hardness 1700 2100 MPa 246.564 304.579 ksi
Loss Coefficient 0.00095 0.0013 0.00095 0.0013 NULL
Modulus of Rupture 205 310 MPa 29.7327 44.9617 ksi
Poisson’s Ratio 0.265 0.275 0.265 0.275 NULL
Shear Modulus 74 81 GPa 10.7328 11.7481 106 psi
Tensile Strength 510 620 MPa 73.9692 89.9234 ksi
Young’s Modulus 190 203 GPa 27.5572 29.4426 106 psi
Glass Temperature K °F
Latent Heat of Fusion 260 285 kJ/kg 111.779 122.527 BTU/lb
Maximum Service Temperature 1023 1198 K 1381.73 1696.73 °F
Melting Point 1673 1723 K 2551.73 2641.73 °F
Minimum Service Temperature 0 0 K -459.67 -459.67 °F
Specific Heat 490 530 J/kg.K 0.379191 0.410145 BTU/lb.F
Thermal Conductivity 14 17 W/m.K 26.2085 31.8246 BTU.ft/h.ft2.F
Thermal Expansion 16 18 10-6/K 28.8 32.4 10-6/°F
Breakdown Potential MV/m V/mil
Dielectric Constant NULL
Resistivity 65 77 10-8 ohm.m 65 77 10-8 ohm.m

Environmental Properties

Resistance Factors
1=Poor 5=Excellent
Flammability 5
Fresh Water 5
Organic Solvents 5
Oxidation at 500C 5
Sea Water 5
Strong Acid 4
Strong Alkalis 5
UV 5
Wear 4
Weak Acid 5
Weak Alkalis 5


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