|Stainless steel ─ also referred to as chromium-nickel steel ─ is an alloy of iron and chromium, nickel, molybdenum or manganese. It is corrosion-resistant (danger of rusting) and insensitive to acids and leaches. Depending on the composition, stainless steel is classified into:
An alloy of iron and chromium which, for example, is used in the production of lower-price range knife blades, scissors as well as cutlery and cookware (also see pan).
An alloy of iron, chromium and nickel which is very resistant to corrosion. Chromium-nickel steel, for example, is used in the production of sinks, interior panellings of washing mashines and dishwashers as well for high-class cutlery and cookware.
An especially resistant alloy of iron, chromium and manganese.
Stainless steel is a metal that is produced in complex chemical and mechanical processes. The basic metal is iron. Iron is processed into steel. The great development of the iron industry started in the 18th century with the invention of the blast furnace. Nowadays, each year millions of tons of steel are produced as it is one of the most important raw materials of our times. Load-bearing parts, reinforced concrete, railway tracks, vehicle metal sheets, tools, etc. ─ you cannot imagine a modern industrial company without steel and steel sheets. For any intended use, there is a specific steel. Steel has many good characteristics, but bad ones as well: If not surface-protected or "refined" by special processes and by addition of alloy metals, it is affected by acids and corrodes when exposed to air humidity. Stainless steels are types of steel that get a significantly higher value in use by cleaning, refinement and addition of higher quality metals. We especially focus on stainless steel.
The most frequently used alloy metals in stainless steel production are chromium and nickel. Depending on which items the stainless steel is to be used for, molybdenum and/or vanadium are additionally admixed with the alloy. Each metal has distinct characteristics.
• Chromium makes the steel stainless,
• Nickel makes the steel resistant to acids,
• Molybdenum reinforces the effect of chromium,
• Vanadium refines the alloy and increases the processability.
Steel becomes stainless when the alloy contains at least 13% chromium. This steel can then be described as stainless. However, this does not say anything about its resistance to acids. Steel becomes resistant to acids by the admixing with nickel.
Many people are familiar with cromargan. It is WMF's registered trademark for sets of cutlery and goods from high-class 18/10 chromium-nickel steel. WMF displays this alloy by a stamp. 18/10 means that the alloy contains 18% chromium, 10% nickel and 72% steel. This stainless steel is hard, dimensionally stable, insensitive to acids, resilient and easy to clean.
In some stainless steel writing utensils, molybdenum is added to the alloy to support the chromium characteristics (resistance to corrosion). This alloy is also used in the production of high-class knife blades (blade steel).
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