DIFFERENT TYPES OF STAINLESS STEELS BASIC INFORMATION AND TUTORIALS


Iron-base alloys containing between 11% and 30% chromium form a tenacious and highly protective chrome oxide layer that gives these alloys excellent corrosion-resistant properties. There are a great number of alloys that are generally referred to as stainless steels, and they fall into three general classifications.

Austenitic stainless steels contain usually 8% to 12% nickel, which stabilizes the austenitic phase. These are the most popular of the stainless steels. With 18% to 20% chromium, they have the best corrosion resistance and are very tough and can undergo severe forming operations.

These alloys are susceptible to embrittlement when heated in the range of 593 to 816°C. At these temperatures, carbides precipitate at the austenite grain boundaries, causing a local depletion of the chromium content in the adjacent region, so this region loses its corrosion resistance.

Use of “extra low carbon” grades and grades containing stabilizing additions of strong carbide-forming elements such as niobium minimizes this problem. These alloys are also susceptible to stress corrosion in the presence of chloride environments.

Ferritic stainless steels are basically straight Fe-Cr alloys. Chromium in excess of 14% stabilizes the low-temperature ferrite phase all the way to the melting point. Since these alloys do not undergo a phase change, they cannot be hardened by heat treatment. They are the least expensive of the stainless alloys.

Martensitic stainless steels contain around 12% Cr. They are austenitic at elevated temperatures but ferritic at low; hence they can be hardened by heat treatment.

To obtain a significant response to heat treatment, they have higher carbon contents than the other stainless alloys. Martensitic alloys are used for tools, machine parts, cutting instruments, and other applications requiring high strength. The austenitic alloys are nonmagnetic, but the ferritic and martensitic grades are ferromagnetic.

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