What is Stainless Steel What is stainless steel?

Steel is defined as an alloy of iron (Fe) and carbon (C) with C contents less than 1.7%. Stainless Steel is a term for a whole group of corrosion-resistant steels, containing at least 11% of chromium. Varying additions of nickel, molybdenum, titanium and other elements may be present. By careful compositioning of the steels, their structure, corrosion resistance and mechanical properties are influenced. And by knowing how the various elements influence, it has been possible to develop steels, which meet the challenging requirements of the industries. By studying the table for chemical composition, you will note that it does not add up to 100%. The balance in all steels is Fe. In our printed matter, e.g. data sheets, we present approximate compositions for our steels. These data are based on the specifications (with close limits for each element) we aim at in the steel melting. In the certificates we give the heat analyses, which are the true results of the melting process. Influence of alloying elements in stainless steels Below are brief descriptions of most of the elements in stainless steels. Some of them promote the formation of ferrite (F) and some of austenite (A). The contents of sulphur, phosphorous and cerium are so low in stainless steels that they do not influence on the structure. Carbon, C (A) Most stainless steels have low carbon contents, max. 0.020 – 0.08%. Those with max. 0.030% C are called ELC steels. Low carbon content inhibits the formation of chromium carbides and the resulting risk of intergranular-corrosion attacks. Low carbon also improves weldability. By convention, and as requested by standards, high-temperature grades often have higher C contents because this promotes creep strength. With modern metallurgical methods it is no longer necessary to increase carbon content; instead nitrogen can be added to maintain high strength. In martensitic stainless steels, C is an alloying element, and the content is usually between 0.15 and 1.2%. The high C content makes these steels hardenable. Chromium, Cr (F) Chromium is the main alloying element in stainless steels. In contents exceeding about 11%, a stable, passive oxide film is formed on the surface – and reformed spontaneously. By increasing the Cr content, up to max. 30%, the corrosion resistance increases. This is true for wet corrosion as well as high-temperature corrosion. Cr addition does not change the structure of pure iron, which is ferritic. Ferritic chromium steels therefore have physical properties similar to those of

Increasing Ni has great influence on the resistance to stress corrosion cracking (SCC). Titanium. makes the steels resistant to hot working. and niobium. which is another stabilizing element. However. which is hard and brittle. between ferritic and austenitic steels. Ti/Nb then obstruct the formation of Cr carbides (known as sensitization = Cr depletion) in the region adjacent to welds and the resulting risk of intergranular corrosion. Ta. Mo promotes the formation of sigma-phase. under certain wet-corrosive and high-temperature conditions. Nickel.carbon steel. Ni (A) If sufficient nickel. which results in changed mechanical and physical properties. However. Ti. The negative effect of Cr is the risk of formation of the intermetallic phase sigma (s). In conventional stainless steels the Mo content is 2 – 3%. at least 8%. 10 x %C for Nb. Mo improves resistance to pitting and crevice corrosion. The addition to steel is min. Nb is often used together with tantalum. Mo is beneficial for strength at elevated temperatures. i. Above all. Stabilized Sandvik grades are 6R35 and 5R75 (both Ti) and 8R40 and 8R41 (both Nb). under certain high-temperature conditions. whereas the Nb-alloyed variants are preferably used in the USA. niobium is also known as columbium (Cb). up to about 6% Mo is added. This. . Lower additions of Ni give a mixed structure of ferrite and austenite. duplex stainless steels. 5 x %C for Ti and min. The Ti alloyed steels are commonly used in Germany. Mo (F) Molybdenum greatly improves the general-corrosion resistance of stainless steels in most media. Ni is directly harmful. the structure usually becomes austenitic. Mo is a disadvantage. In special steels.05%) – so-called Ti or Nb stabilized steels. And duplex (austenitic-ferritic) steels come. is added to a chromium steel. See also "Material Safety Data Sheet" below. in that respect. In the USA. which has a direct limitation on the size range of seamless tubes. Molybdenum. Ti and Nb are known as stabilizing elements and are normally used in steel grades with relatively high carbon content (> 0. Nb (F) These two elements easily combine with carbon into stable Ti or Nb carbides. Ni helps the formation of the passive Cr-oxide film.e. It is also beneficial under other special wet-corrosive conditions and mostly to high-temperature corrosion. however.

S Sulphur is mostly regarded as an unwanted impurity and is therefore. P Phosphorous is an unwanted impurity. Silicon. N is very important for the weldability of duplex stainless steels. It promotes the formation of austenite. Nitrogen.Copper. Cu (A) Improves resistance to corrosion in sulphuric acid. Si (F) Si is used as a deoxidising agent in the melting of steel and.2 – 0. like Si. SAF 2205. the duplex steels SAF 2304. as a result. we obtain considerably lower values. principally all steels contain a small percentage of Si. which can be both negative and positive. In steels for machining the S content is somewhat higher to help form sulfides. is a strong austenite former and is used to complement Ni in the Nalloyed steels. which improves the strength and corrosion resistance of austenitic and duplex steels. Si increases the tendency for formation of sigma phase and gives an increased risk for hot cracking during welding. 2%) is used to obtain high creep strength. e. N-alloyed Sandvik grades are the austenitic steels 3R19. 2RK65 and Sanicro 28. 254 SMO. They are harmful in conditions where there is a risk of pitting. Phosphorous. due to its ability to give rapid reforming of austenite during the cooling of the weld.040% or lower. as described under "Steel melting". 253 MA and 353 MA. where small and well distributed sulfides "lubricate" the cutting tool. Esshete 1250. The normal content in stainless steels according to the various production standards is max. which contains 6% Mn. . which cannot be reduced in the steel-melting process. Mn (A) Manganese is. N reduces the tendency for formation of sigma-phase. It easily combines with sulphur to form sulfides (= inclusion particles). Sulphur. Therefore the content of P must be low already in the raw materials used.030% or lower. SAF 2507 and the ferritic steel 4C54. present in all steels. 0. Si has a positive effect on the resistance to high-temperature corrosion. 0. however. otherwise there is a risk of cracking when hot working and welding.g. The normal content in stainless steels is max. In certain high-temperature steels a Mn content above the normal level (max. like Ni. 2RE69. This is the case with e.3%. Their positive effect is in machining. N is added in contents of about 0. N (A) Nitrogen. normally reduced to a low level in the AOD converter. 3R69. Around 1% Cu is added to some special grades.g. Manganese. In our steel melting. see above under "Manganese".

together with other REMs. but the structure can also be modified by heat treatment and by cold working. At high temperatures they can give problems with embrittlement.5% Ni Austenitic steels and alloys " There are also martensitic-austenitic steels and precipitation hardening steels. Ferritic chromium steels They normally have a Cr content of 12 – 18% and often small amounts of other alloying elements. primarily of interest for strip and wire. Co Cobalt is an element of great interest to the nuclear industry. Ce Cerium is a so-called rare earth metal (REM). in the grade 253 MA and 353 MA to improve the oxidation resistance at high temperatures. Often sensitive to intergranular corrosion after heat treatment and welding. Poor toughness. < 4. increasing with the Cr content. > 4. Co content of 0. They are magnetic. where a low Co content is essential. A special high-temperature steel contains 26% Cr (4C54).Aluminium. and variation can be wide in reality. Al (F) Aluminium improves the oxidation resistance at high temperatures. In many cases a max.5% Ni Martensitic chromium steels " Austenitic-ferritic steels (duplex) Min. Our stock-standard tube and pipe in grades 3R12 and 3R60 can easily meet a requirement of max. 12% Cr. It is added. These steels keep their ferritic structure also after rapid cooling from high temperature and they are therefore not hardenable. The microphotos above are typical for the steel and the condition in question. Inferior cold-working and welding properties. Characteristics: Moderate to good corrosion resistance. but in modern variants (ELI = Extra Low Interstitials. i.2%. Cerium.1% can be offered. Types of stainless steel Stainless steels can be classified according to their different microstructures in different groups: Ferritic chromium steels Min. Cobalt. 0. . It is an unwanted element in all welding consumables for MIG welding as it causes a very unstable arc. carbon and nitrogen) this problem has been overcome. especially at low temperatures. In Sandvik 9RU10 Al is added to form aluminium carbonitrides to give a precipitation hardening effect.e. 14% Cr. It is added to the Sandvik grade Sanicro 31HT. Which structure a steel will attain is basically dependent upon its chemical composition.

The hardness can then be reduced to the required level by tempering.g. This makes them hardenable. Sandvik was the first company to develop a weldable SCC-resistant duplex grade. depending on the other alloying elements. knives. 10RE51). we can offer bar steel in a duplex with increased machinability and uniform properties. They have good weldability. Their advantage is that they can be heat-treated (hardened) to the desired strength. The corrosion resistance of these steels is moderate. makes the structure fully austenitic.Martensitic chromium steels They have a Cr content of less than 20% with a C content of more than 0.g. They are magnetic in the proportion to the ferrite content. depending on the amount of other alloying elements. austenitic grades like the 304 type can become somewhat magnetic . in the pulp digester pre-heaters. 3RE60. but some grades have a composition balanced to give a structure of austenite with a small amount of ferrite. etc. Poor weldability. These steels are not hardenable by heat treatment. With increasing Ni. They are normally nonmagnetic. hard and brittle martensite is formed. Characteristics: The modern duplex steels are all ELC grades. Poor weldability. razor blades. needles. which are not ELC grades (e. and they have excellent corrosion properties. These steels are mostly used in the form of strip and wire for e. Very soon the methanol industry realized the advantages of this material and uses it for heat exchangers. Also lower alloyed. It was initially developed to combat corrosion problems in the pulp and paper industry. have poor weldability. In the course of the years it has solved many SCC problems in the chemical industry. better in hardened than in annealed condition. Magnetic. that when they are rapidly cooled off from high temperature. The physical properties offer design advantages. but by developing a SANMAC variant of SAF 2205. which means. The old type of austenitic-ferritic steels. The content of Cr is 18 – 28% and Ni 4 – 7%. the proportion of austenite increases. Austenitic-ferritic (duplex) steels By adding Ni to a ferritic chromium steel the structure will change and become a mixture of ferrite and austenite. domestic purposes. but much better machinability than modern duplex steels.15%. Austenitic steels and alloys A further increase of the Ni content to 8% or more. parts in watches. This makes them slightly magnetic. Duplex steels are not hardenable. Their yield strength is at least twice as high as in austenitic steels. This results in 20 – 75% austenite. flapper valves. Characteristics: Moderate corrosion resistance. The machinability is normally limited.

11R51. By cold working the strength increases considerably (deformation hardening). The martensite gives the hardness to the material. Higher strength by precipitation of minute particles is achieved by composing this alloy so that it can be drawn to wire and coiled to springs in the same way as the standard grades but when the finished spring is heat treated (Sandvik 9RU10 at 480oC) a very fine dispersion of minute particles is precipitated. which have been developed for multipurpose or "single-purpose" applications. Martensitic-austenitic steels Standard austenitic steels are transforming to martensite when deformed. Characteristics: Good to excellent corrosion resistance under wet-corrosive and hightemperature conditions.e. Precipitation hardening steels These steel grades normally have a Cr content of above 16 %. and this can be utilized in some applications. which has some variants.85 to about 0. 12R10. The martensite gives a high hardness and strength while the austenite gives the ductility. often referred to as "acid proof". The basic steel has 18% Cr and 8% Ni – often called 18/8 steel (= type 304). Characteristics: The precipitation increases the tensile strength more than tempering of standard grades and the yield strength even more. they are hygienic and easy to clean. The Al is added to build up the precipitated nickel-aluminium particles. and so the relation between yield strength and tensile strength increases from about 0. In annealed condition the structure is austenitic but during cold deformation the austenitic structure is transformed to the harder phase of martensite. i. Also this group has some variants. Good mechanical properties at all temperatures. the 18/8/Mo steels (= type 316). e. by forming or machining.e. they are so called TRIP steels (Transformation Induced by Plasticity).g. This means that the steels will have characteristics typical for martensitic steels i. Ni above 7 % and appr 1 % of Al. See the chart below. being magnetic etc. Not least important. This means that the deformation induces a martensite formation which means that steels with 18% Cr and 10 % Ni will have a martensite content of approximately 50% when delivered in hard condition. The fatigue limit for shear stress and for high cycle fatigue is about 25 % of the tensile strength. Therefore grades with higher tensile strength have a higher fatigue limit than other grades with lower . 9X1R51 and 5R60 when delivered in hard condition.when cold-worked. These minute particles also makes the structure more stable and obstructs cracks to propagate through. And then we have all the special steels. Characteristics: Examples of these steels are 5R10. Excellent formability and fabrication properties.95. Austenitic steels form the dominating group among stainless steels. By adding 2 – 3% Mo we get the next large group of steels. Excellent weldability.

Very good weldability as long as the necessary precautions are taken.25% and of Grade 11 0. Up to the maximum levels specified for these impurities. Good mechanical properties. Excellent formability and fabrication properties.strength but otherwise the same structure.com/sandvik/0140/internet/se01280. 380 MPa. whereas they raise the strength and lower the ductility. palladium (Pd) is added in some Grades 7 and 11 have an addition of 0. Grade 3 with max.nsf/0/702e3cc6e90426b7 c1256aca002b9298?OpenDocument . Special metals Titanium and zirconium contain small amounts of the impurities hydrogen (H). In order to further improve the corrosion resistance of titanium.2 min. Characteristics: Excellent corrosion resistance under most wet-corrosive conditions. 0.18%. they are hygienic and easy to clean.25% Pd.35% O and max. ©AB Sandvik Materials Technology Legal Notice | Privacy Policy |Contact Us | Latest update:2003-07-28 http://www.5%.25% O and max. The O content of Grade 7 is max. 0. By cold working the strength increases considerably (deformation hardening).05% N: Rp0. see data sheets.smt. N and O have the strongest effect – compare Grade 2 and Grade 3: Grade 2 with max. Zirconium also contains hafnium (Hf) to a maximum content of 4.03% N: Rp0. 0. 0.12 – 0. nitrogen (N).2 min. Not least important. oxygen (O) and iron (Fe).sandvik. 0. the corrosion resistance is not affected. and this can be utilized in some applications. 275 MPa.