From the smallest zipper to the largest skyscraper, stainless steel is an essential part of modern life.
Stainless steel’s strength, resistance to corrosion and low maintenance make it the ideal material for a wide range of applications. It also has a long life cycle and is 100% recyclable.
There are over 150 grades of stainless steel, of which 15 are commonly used in everyday applications. Stainless steel is made in various forms including plates, bars, sheets and tubing for use in industrial and domestic settings.
A wide spectrum of industries rely on stainless steel including construction, automotive and more. For many applications it’s simply the most effective solution.
The Most Common Uses of Stainless Steel
Architecture and Construction
Stainless steel first came to prominence in construction during the art-deco period. Famously, the upper portion of the Chrysler Building was constructed from stainless steel.
Due to its strength, flexibility and resistance to corrosion, stainless steel is now commonly used in modern construction. It is used in the exterior cladding for large high impact buildings and can be seen in the interiors too in the form of handrails, counter tops, backsplashes and more.
Stainless steel is easily welded, has an attractive finish and is low maintenance. Because of this, it is featured prominently in high-profile modern architecture including the Eurostar Terminal in London’s Waterloo Station, the Helix Bridge in Singapore, and the One World Trade Center in New York.
The trend towards sustainable building also favors stainless steel, which is often comprised of 90% recycled metal. Stainless steel in a polished or grain finish can help bring natural light into the building, thus reducing energy consumption.
Automotive and Transportation
Stainless steel was first used in the automotive industry in the 1930s by the Ford Motor Company to make various concept cars.
Today, the use of stainless steel in the automotive industry is increasing. It is traditionally used in car exhaust systems, trim and grills, but new emission reduction standards and environmental concerns are driving manufacturers to favor stainless steel in structural components too.
Stainless steel is used in all forms of transportation including ship containers, road tankers and refuse vehicles. It is excellent for the transportation of chemicals, liquids and food products. Its high strength allows for thinner containers, saving fuel costs, while its corrosion resistance reduces cleaning and maintenance costs.
Stainless steel is ideal for hygienic environments as it’s easily sterilized and resistant to corrosion. It is used in the construction of surgical and dental instruments, kidney dishes and operating tables, as well as other medical equipment such as cannulas, steam sterilizers and MRI scanners.
Surgical implants use stainless steel, as well as replacement joints such as artificial hips. Stainless steel pins and plates are used to fix broken bones in place.
Energy and Heavy Industries
The chemical, oil and gas industries operate in demanding environments involving high heat and highly toxic substances. Special grades of stainless steel have been developed for use in these industries which feature enhanced resistance to corrosion over a wider range of temperatures. High-grade stainless steel is vital in the construction of storage tanks, valves, pipes, and other components.
Super duplex steel is often used due to its high strength. It can be produced in large sheets which minimizes welding and maximizes structural integrity. Its higher strength also reduces the need for extra structural support and foundations, reducing construction costs.
Stainless steel is essential for off-shore oil rigs. Crude oil is extremely corrosive and modern rigs are constructed from high alloyed steel which is tough and lightweight.
Renewable energy technologies including solar, geothermal, hydro and wind power also use stainless steel components as it is able to withstand the rigors of highly corrosive sea water environments.
Food and Catering
Stainless steel is used in the kitchen accessories, cutlery and cookware. Less ductile grades of steel are used to make knife blades with sharp edges. More ductile grades of steel are used for items that have to be molded into shape such as cookers, grills, sinks and saucepans. Stainless steel is also used as a finish for refrigerators, freezers, countertops and dishwashers.
Stainless steel is ideal for food production and storage as it does not affect the flavor of the food. Stainless steel’s corrosion resistance is important as some foods, like orange juice, can be acidic. Also stainless steel is easily cleaned which helps keep undesirable germs at bay.
Stainless steel is also important in ice cream production as it allows strong anti-bacteriological cleaning products to be used.
Metal Supermarkets is the world’s largest small-quantity metal supplier with over 85 brick-and-mortar stores across the US, Canada, and United Kingdom. We are metal experts and have been providing quality customer service and products since 1985.
At Metal Supermarkets, we supply a wide range of metals for a variety of applications. Our stock includes: stainless steel, alloy steel, galvanized steel, tool steel, aluminum, brass, bronze and copper.
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