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Introduction

More often seen in the market are the various types and more attractive appearance of stainless steels. Stainless steels differ from carbon steel by the amount of chromium present. English metallurgist Harry Brearly in 1913 has accidently found that adding chromium to low carbon steels give it stain resistance. For a steel to be called or made stainless steels, it must have a minimum of 10.5% chromium. However, there are also other alloying elements added to enhance and improved its structure and formability, strength and cryogenic toughness. Those elements include metals such as Nickel, Copper, Titanium and Molybdenum. It is a fact that the chromium that makes the steel stays stainless and at the same time, improved the corrosion resistance. There are great number of types and grades, but the selections of it must initially meet the corrosion resistance requirements. Generally, besides higher corrosion resistance in stainless steels, it also contains higher work hardening rates, ductility, and strength and hardness.

One of the types of stainless steels is the Austenitic Stainless Steels which is easily recognizable by most industrial factories and is the most widely used as a type of stainless steel. Austenitic Stainless Steels contain about approximately 16 and 25% percent chromium and also nitrogen in solution which contribute to their high corrosion resistance. Unlike normal carbon steels, the chromium in a stainless steel is in the form of alloy forms a self-healing protective oxide layer. This means, even if the material surface is cut or damaged, it will self heal and the corrosion resistance will be maintained and remain intact. However, normal carbon steels can still be protected from corrosion by painting or other coating such as galvanizing.

Besides that, Austenitic Stainless Steels with yield strength about 200 MPa can be made soft and easily formed or created by using the same tools that works with carbon steels. On the other hand, when it is cold up to yield strengths of over 2000 MPa (200 ksi), it can be incredibly strong and sturdy. A simple example would be the drawing of wire. Wire which is used as springs will be hardened to a certain tensile strength whilst for a same wire to use as a bendable tie, it will be transformed into a softer materials. Not like other ferritic such as bcc, body-centered cubic iron base alloys, Austenitic Stainless Steels are not easily lose their strength at elevated temperatures.

As opposed to the advantages of Austenitic Stainless Steels, there are also weaknesses found. There are chances for SCC or know as Stress Corrosion Cracking to occur if those Austenitic Stainless Steels are exposed to an environment which has insufficient corrosion resistance. In addition, these alloys are less resistant to cyclic oxidation than ferritic because merely due to their greater thermal expansion co-efficient tends to cause protective oxide coating to spall. However, all those limitations can be prevented or avoidable by taking proper precautions just as a saying goes, prevention is better than cure.

No doubt that Austenitic Stainless Steels are pricy than ferritic stainless steels. But, remember the downside of the less cheap stainless steels which are; lack of toughness and lack of great ductility. Ferritic Stainless Steels are known for their moderate corrosion resistance. Unlike Austenitic Stainless Steels, ferritic stainless steels cannot be hardened by heat treatment and are only used for annealed conditions. Applications for ferritic stainless steels include; vehicle exhausts, fuel lines, cooking utensils, architectural trim and domestic appliances. As for Austenitic Stainless Steels, applications are widely used to produce; kitchen sinks, roof and gutters, doors and windows, heat exchangers, oven, chemical tanks, food processing equipments, benches and food preparation areas.