Stainless steel sheets, tubes, and other products make up the components of many items in multiple industries. Stainless steel has many qualities and characteristics that make it ideal for countless applications. But perhaps the most important of those characteristics is corrosion resistance. Corrosion resistance is the ability of a material to withstand gradual destruction due to reactions with its environment. Whether you have some marine equipment or a refrigerator, you don’t want it to fall apart while it’s just doing what it was designed to do.
Corrosion is a chemical reaction that occurs between a material and its environment. In the case of stainless steel, corrosion resistance is actually a particular chemical reaction that protects the stainless steel and prevents other corrosive reactions from occurring. This “good” chemical reaction happens because of the chromium content in stainless steel. Chromium is a highly reactive element that bonds with the oxygen in the air. This forms a passive oxide layer on the surface of the stainless steel that prevents further oxidation and corrosion.
The microstructure of stainless steel also contributes to its corrosion resistance. The most common types of stainless steel are austenitic steels, which have a face-centered cubic crystal structure. This crystal structure provides excellent corrosion resistance. Ferritic and martensitic stainless steels have a body-centered cubic crystal structure, which has a lower corrosion resistance. However, the addition of chromium and other elements like nickel and molybdenum helps to improve the corrosion resistance of these stainless steel alloys.
We also polish stainless steel, which improves its corrosion resistance. A smooth, clean, and polished surface enhances the formation of the passive oxide layer. If the surface is rough or contaminated, it can inhibit the formation of that layer, leading to damage and corrosion.
At Alliant Metals, we provide stainless steel sheets, angle, pipe and tube, and other products for many applications and industries. Our team can help you find the best stainless steel products and connect you with the services you need for your industry and project.