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Stainless Steels
Stainless steels are used for corrosion and heat resisting applications. Stainless steel is an alloy of iron with a
minimum of 10.5% chromium. Chromium produces a thin layer of oxide on the surface of the steel known as the
passive layer. This prevents any further corrosion of the surface and heals itself in the presence of oxygen. This
property is not evident in the low-chromium structural steels previously discussed in the article on alloy steels and is
apparent only when the chromium content exceeds about 10 percent. Increasing the amount of chromium gives an
increased resistance to corrosion. Since stainless steels contain relatively large amounts of chromium, the ironchromium-carbon alloys belong to a ternary system. Stainless steel also contains varying amounts of carbon, silicon
and manganese. Other elements such as nickel and molybdenum may be added to impart other useful properties such
as enhanced formability and increased corrosion resistance. Information about classification of stainless steels and
types of stainless steels is given in this article.

Classification of Stainless Steels as per AISI
For stainless steels, the system established by the AISI is not based on composition, but on microstructure. Thus, the
stainless steels are classified as austenitic, ferritic, martensitic, duplex, and precipitation-hardening types.
AISI has established a three numeral numbering system to classify stainless steels. The last two numerals have no
particular significance, but the first numeral indicates the group as follows.

Series Designation

Groups

2xx

Chromium-nickel-manganese; nonhardenable, austenitic, nonmagnetic

3xx

Chromium-nickel; nonhardenable, austenitic, nonmagnetic

4xx

Chromium; hardenable, martensitic, magnetic
Chromium; nonhardenable, ferritic, magnetic

Nickel (plus carbon, manganese, and nitrogen) promotes the formation of austenite, and chromium (plus silicon,
molybdenum, and niobium) encourages the formation of ferrite so the structure of stainless steels can be largely
predicted on the basis of their chemical composition.
The system is not as clearly organized as the AISI/SAE system for plain carbon steels, because the number
designations overlap. For example, within the 4xx series, 405 and 409 designate ferritic stainless steels, while 403
and 410 designate martensitic stainless steels; within the 3xx series, 321 and 330 designate austenitic stainless steels,
and 329 designates a duplex stainless steel. Therefore, one must be aware that the system for stainless steels is
somewhat inconsistent.

Types of Stainless Steels as per AISI
As mentioned earlier, stainless steels are divided into 5 types as under.

Austenitic
These stainless steels have a microstructure of austenite (FCC – face centered cubic crystal structure) at room
temperature. Austenitic stainless steel (such as the popular type 304) has been called 18/8 stainless steel, because it
contains nominally 18% Cr and 8% Ni. There are 30 compositional variations in the standard austenitic stainless
steels, and a summary of the family relationships is shown in the figure given below.

with nitrogen and manganese. series 3xx) with specific compositional variations to impart particular properties. and improved machinability (For example. food processing equipment. types 302 and 202. equipment for the chemical industry.All the austenitic stainless steels are essentially chromium-nickel alloys.08 percent maximum led to type 304 with improved weldability and decreased tendency towards carbide precipitation). Austenitic steels are used for cooking utensils. These types are essentially nonmagnetic in the annealed condition and do not harden by heat treatment. exterior architecture. general-purpose alloys. increased strength. with molybdenum added. and kitchen sinks. Cold-working develops a wide range of mechanical properties and the steel in this condition may become slightly magnetic. series 2xx) and was designed to replace nickel. Standard austenitic steels are vulnerable to stress corrosion cracking. Higher nickel austenitic steels have increased resistance to stress corrosion cracking. They can be hot-worked readily and can be hardened by cold-working whilst retaining a useful level of ductility and toughness. to increase opposition to various forms of deterioration). The total content of chromium and nickel in these steels is at least 23 percent. for example. providing corrosion resistance in numerous standard services) and 316 (similar to 304. owing to its substantial nickel content and higher levels of chromium. lowering the carbon content to 0. a rather expensive alloying element. better corrosion resistance. The type 202 is limited to only three types (chromium-nickel-manganese stainless steels. . increased heat resistance. The chromium varies between 15 and 24% and the nickel between 3 and 22%. truck trailers. Superior performance in very low-temperature services is additional feature of these type of steels. better weldability. The two most common types are 304 (the most widely specified stainless steel. The family is derived from two basic. The type 302 expands into 26 other types (chromium-nickel stainless steels. The austenitic type of steels offers the most resistance to corrosion in the stainless types.

Cb (columbium. 0 Annealed 33000 117800 68 B 85 10 Cold-rolled 67000 147600 47 C 32 25 Cold-rolled 127000 165200 24 C 38 35 Cold-rolled 164000 196000 15 C 43 45 Cold-rolled 200000 225000 7 C 46 Figure given below shows the effect of cold work on the 0. It is important when purchasing stainless steels that the low carbon grade be clearly specified. followed by rapid cooling in air or water. The chromium that precipitates as chromium carbide leaves a zone adjacent to the weld depleted in chromium and susceptible to intergranular corrosion. niobium. . also known as niobium) or Ta (tantalum) is added. The heat of welding is sufficient for chromium to combine with carbon and precipitate at grain boundaries in the zone alongside the weld.Through the range of temperatures 800-1500ºF. Cold Reduction % Condition of Metal Yield Strength psi Tensile Strength psi Elongation in 2 in.03% max C or low carbon “L†grade.08% max C allowed in types 304 and 316 leaves stainless steel vulnerable to intergranular corrosion when welded. Formation of chromium carbides is also avoided in stabilized austenitic stainless steels containing carbide forming elements like titanium. This causes depletion of chromium from the grains resulting in decreasing the corrosion protective passive film. chromium carbides form along the austenite grains. the response becomes pronounced in austenitic alloys reaching a maximum in types 201 and 301. In type 321. low-carbon types 304L and 316L were developed which contains only 0. In the UNS designation system “00†in S30400 and S31600 indicates the 0. Ti (titanium) is added whereas in type 347. Although all stainless steels can be hardened somewhat by cold work. % Rockwell Hardness No. tantalum and zirconium. This effect is called sensitization. Stabilization heat treatment of such steels results in preferred formation of carbides of the stabilizing elements instead of chromium carbides. the “03†in S30403 and S31603 designates the 0.2% proof stress. To avoid carbide precipitation during welding.08% max C high carbon grade not suitable for welded fabrication. or intergranular attack (IGA). referred to as the heat affected zone (HAZ). which is replacing the older American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) designations. The purpose is to precipitate all carbon as a carbide of titanium or columbium in order to prevent subsequent precipitation of chromium carbide. The table given below shows work hardening behavior of the type 301 (17 percent chromium and 7 percent nickel) stainless steel in tension. In the UNS numbering system. A stabilizing heat treatment consists of holding either annealed or welded material at 1600 to 1650°F for 2 to 4 hours.03 percent carbon (maximum). It is particularly important in welding of austenitic stainless steels. the ultimate tensile strength and elongation at failure for a specific cast of 304. otherwise there is a risk that the higher carbon grade will be received. The 0.

it is recommended that the amount of cold work should be restricted to 30% for the austenitic grades. Ferritic These types of stainless steels (series 4xx) are straight-chromium stainless steels containing approximately 14 to 27 percent chromium with small amounts of carbon (usually less than 0.Similar relationships apply to other austenitic materials. All the types are variations on the basic. 7 percent Ni) where machinability and severe forming properties are not essential. Figure given below shows the family relationships for the ferritic stainless steel types. the chromium-nickel-manganese stainless steels. Development work covering the substitution of manganese for nickel in stainless steels during the shortage of nickel (World War II and Korean emergency) led to the production of types 201 and 202.5 percent nickel and 6.5 percent manganese is a satisfactory substitute for type 301 (17 percent Cr. Although types 201 and 202 have somewhat less resistance to chemical corrosion than 301 and 302. general-purpose type 430. their resistance to atmospheric corrosion is entirely comparable. type 202 with a nominal composition of 18 percent Cr. because nickel renders the steels austenitic. 5 percent Ni and 8 percent Mn is more desirable because the higher manganese reduces the rate of work hardening. Type 201 with a nominal composition of 17 percent chromium. The number of types of ferritic stainless steels is much smaller than the austenitic types. . 4. Where those properties are essential.10%) The crystallographic structure of the steels is ferritic (BCC – body centered cubic crystal structure) at room temperature. These alloys deliberately lack high nickel contents. To maintain a useful ductility of 15%.

All the types are variations on the general-purpose type 410. including decorative ones) and 409 (low-cost grade well suited to withstanding high temperatures). the strength of these steels is approximately 50 percent higher than that of carbon steels and they are superior to martensitic steels in corrosion resistance and machinability. . However. they cannot be hardened by heat treatment (because of low carbon content) and are only moderately hardened by cold working. because they contain less alloys. they are used extensively for deep-drawn parts such as vessels for chemical and food industries. These types of steels are usually limited in use to relatively thin sections due to lack of toughness in welds. Ferritic steels are best suited for general and high-temperature corrosion applications rather than services requiring high strength.Two of the most common types are 430 (general-purpose grade for many applications. ductility and corrosion resistance in the annealed condition. Since the ferritic steels may be cold formed easily (they are not as formable as austenitic stainless steels). hot water tanks and automotive trims and exhausting systems. Low in carbon content. The lack of nickel results in lower corrosion resistance than the austenitic stainless steels (chromium-nickel stainless steels). In the annealed condition. but generally higher in chromium than the martensitic grades. Martensitic The family relationship of the martensitic stainless steels is shown in the figure given below. The ferritic stainless steels are the lower-cost stainless steels. but they develop their maximum softness. Annealing is carried out primarily to relieve welding or cold-working stresses. High chromium steels with additions of molybdenum can be used in quite aggressive conditions such as sea water. and do not contain nickel (nickel is more expensive than chromium). Ferritic steels are chosen for their resistance to stress corrosion cracking. where welding is not required they offer a wide range of applications. They are magnetic and can be cold-worked or hotworked.

They are used where high strength and moderate corrosion resistance is required. knife blades. which transforms to martensite structure (BCC) as a result of quenching. can be machined satisfactorily. This type of steel is used for turbine blades. They attain the best corrosion resistance when hardened from the recommended temperature but are not as good as the austenitic or ferritic stainless steels. . The steels have austenitic structure (FCC) at high temperature. This type of stainless steel is magnetic. etc. shafts.5 and 18 percent chromium but have higher carbon levels as compared to ferritic steels (as high as 1%). can be cold-worked without difficulty. surgical instruments. This allows them to be hardened and tempered much like carbon and low-alloy steels. have good toughness and is easily hot-worked. Types 410 and 416 are the most popular and are used for turbine blades and corrosion-resistant castings. springs. However.These steels (series 4xx) like ferritic steels are primarily straight chromium steels containing between 11. especially with low carbon content. pins. they have generally low weldability and formability.

5 3.0 to 2.50 max - - Duplex Duplex stainless steels contain high amount of chromium (18% -28%) and moderate (as compared to austenitic steels) amount of nickel (4.0-26.5-13.24-0.0 - - 2.0-3.5 0.0-18.0-11.0 max 1.0 0. Since the quantity of nickel is insufficient for formation of fully austenitic structure.6 0. paper machinery parts.0 8. “Super Duplex†steels (UNS S32705) have enhanced strength and resistance to all forms of corrosion compared to standard austenitic steels.75 23.03 1. the structure of duplex steels is mixed.15 max 304 0. UNS No.0-3.Stainless steels as a group are much more difficult to machine than plain carbon steels.0 4.0 Si % Cr % Ni % Mo % Others % 1. 2.08 410 430 Mn % 7.0 max 1. They are magnetic but not as much as the ferritic. Type C% 202 0.0% Ni. These steels have a microstructure which is approximately 50% ferritic and 50% austenitic. The nominal chemical compositions (important elements) of some common representative stainless steel types (discussed above) are as per the tables given below.15 max 302 0.0% Mo.5 0. The so called “lean duplex†steels (UNS S32304) are formulated to have comparable corrosion resistance to standard austenitic steels but with enhanced strength and resistance to stress corrosion cracking.0 2.5 0. martensitic and PH types due to the 50% austenitic structure.0 max 17. which contains 23 to 28% Cr.03 2.0 max 1.0 max 11. desalination plants. pumps and bolts.0 max 16.0 - N2 0.0 max 1.0 6.25 max 2.5 to 5. These alloys are used for cutlery.0-19.5 1.0 10.0 - S32205 0. They are weldable but need care in selection of welding consumables and heat input.0 max 1.20 S32750 0. and 1.0 2. petrochemical plants and marine applications. The use of a small amount of sulfur in type 416 and selenium in type 416Se improves the machinability considerably. type 329 (UNS S32900).0-23.0-18.0 8.0 0.14-0. They have moderate formability.0 1. C % max Mn % max Si % max Cr % Ni % Mo % N% S32905 0.0 - - 2.08 1.0-20.50 max - - 0.0-10. The nominal chemical compositions (important elements) of some representative duplex stainless steels (as per ASTM A240: Heat-Resisting Chromium and Chromium-Nickel Stainless Steel Plate.5-10.5 3. but poorer toughness than austenitic stainless steels. The addition of about 2 percent nickel to the 16 to 18 percent chromium.5-24. This gives them a higher strength than either ferritic or austenitic steels.80 24. Molybdenum is used in some of duplex steels as additional alloying element.5-5. valve parts and bearings.0 max 14.0-14.0 21.0 1. low-carbon alloy type 431 steel is used for aircraft fittings.32 .20 S32304 0.0 22.0 max 17.0 3. Duplex stainless steels (UNS S32205) provide high resistance to stress corrosion cracking (formation of cracks caused by a combination of corrosion and stress) and to chloride ions attack.0 - 0.0-28.12 max 1. The duplex class is so named because it is a mixture of austenitic (chromiumnickel stainless steel) and ferritic (plain chromium stainless steel) structures.05-0.0-5. and Strip for Pressure Vessels) are as per the tables given below.0 0.2 0. They are suitable for heat exchangers. As per AISI there is only one standard type of duplex stainless steel.05-0.5-6.0 max 18.0-2.0-6.08 316 0.0-8.15 max 1.0-5.0 4. Sheet.03 2.5% – 8%) as major alloying elements.0-19.

17-7PH was made available in 1948.75 0. The nominal chemical compositions (important elements) of some representative precipitation-hardening stainless steels are as per the table given below. With a suitable “aging†heat treatment.Precipitation Hardening (PH) As a result of research during World War II a new group of stainless steels with precipitation-hardening characteristics was developed.50 - 0. They are magnetic. .15 Al PH 15-7 Mo 0. The first of these nonstandard grades of stainless steels. turbine blades. aerospace equipment.00 2.25 - 0.07 0.40 0.40 15.00 7.25 1.00 10. 3.00 - 1. niobium and aluminium to the steel.15 Al 17-10 P 0. Figure given below provides a graphical overview of different types of stainless steel groups with respect to chromium and nickel content. These elements tend to form coherent alloy precipitates.70 0.70 0. paper industry equipment. Precipitation hardening stainless steels contain chromium and nickel as major alloying elements.25 Cb.12 0. etc. This is in contrast to conventional hardening and tempering in martensitic steels where distortion is more of a problem.28 P These steels are usually solution-annealed at the mill and supplied in that condition. aging also improves both toughness and resistance to stress-corrosion. Type C% Mn % Si % Cr % Ni % Mb % Others % 17-4 PH 0. Aside from the increase in strength and ductility.50 4. very fine particles form in the matrix of the steel which imparts hardness and strength.00 7. These steels can develop very high strength by adding elements such as copper. They have good weldability and their corrosion resistance is comparable to standard austenitic steels grade like 304. They are used for pump shafts. The 17-4 PH alloy should not be put into service in any application in the solution-treated condition because its ductility can be relatively low and its resistance to stress-corrosion cracking is poor.50 17.40 17.04 0. These steels can be machined to quite intricate shapes requiring good tolerances before the final aging treatment as there is minimal distortion from the final treatment.07 0. These steels may be either austenitic or martensitic and they are hardened by heat treatment (aging) after forming. valves.50 16.60 Cu 17-7 PH 0.

Table given below shows compositions of nickel maraging steels. maximum % of C = 0.30-0.05-0.0-3. The martensite formed is soft and tough rather than the hard and brittle martensite of conventional low-alloy steels.15 - 18 Ni (200) 17.0-26. They are iron-base alloys capable of attaining yield strengths up to 300000 psi in combination with excellent fracture toughness. Mn = 0.0-8.5-0.10. These steels are low-carbon containing 18 to 25 percent nickel together with other hardening elements and are called maraging (martensitic plus aging).15-0.3-0. This ductile martensite has low work-hardening rate and can be cold-worked to a high degree.0-19.0 8.30 0.0 8.0-9.0 3.15 - 18 Ni (250) 17.0 - - 1.6 0. Designation Ni Co Mo Ti Al Cb 25 Ni 25. S = 0.15-0.5 0.25 0.30 0. maraging steels are also alloy steels and hence though they are not stainless steel brief information about them is given here for the sake of completeness.2 0.5 4.Maraging Steels Like stainless steels.6-5.010.3-1.0 - - 1.0 7. They are considered to be martensitic as annealed and attain ultrahigh strength on being aged in the annealed or martensitic condition.50 18 Ni (300) 18.6-5.5 0.10. For all steels given in the table.05-0.50 20 Ni 19.15-0.8 0.0-19.30-0.5-9.15 - .03.2 0.0-20.010 and P = 0.3-1.5 4. Si = 0.05-0.6 0.0-19.

In addition to the designation “43″ there are also the following ones: “40″ without molybdenum. columbium or titanium.4306 has the following composition. without columbium or titanium. The last two digits “06″ define the exact alloy. refrigerated. Abbreviated System of Designation is adopted.). columbium or titanium”. nickel more than 2.5% “45″ with copper. each designation consists of 5 numbers and for details of composition and properties of the steels one has to refer to the standard. In many countries.4306 will be considered. material number 1. rifle tubing and pressure vessels. nickel less than 2. 4 h. 1000 psi 140 152 132 Elongation (in 1 in. 1000 psi 295-303 240-268 190-210 246 249-256 Tensile Strength. German System As per this system (W.03% maximum Cr = 18 – 20% Ni = 10 – 12.5% Abbreviated System of Designation This system is widely used by a number of countries.5% The steel corresponds therefore to AISI type 304L stainless steel although the lower limit of nickel is higher by 2%. Information about both the systems is as under.Mechanical properties of maraging steels in annealed condition and after maraging are as per the table given below. R/C 52 52 @ Maraged 900°F. 17007). % 17 8 30 Reduction in area. R/C 28-32 26-35 10-15 After Maraging Type of steel 18 Ni (300)@ 18 Ni (300)# 18 Ni (300)$ 20 % Ni 25 % Ni Yield Strength. Classification of Stainless Steels as per Other Systems Classification as per German System is also widely used. 1000 psi 297-306 250-275 200-220 256 265-270 Elongation. The first digit is 1 and indicates that it is a steel.2 % off-set). % 75 - 72 Hardness. maraged 800-850°F.N. 3 h # Maraged 900°F.5% “44″ with molybdenum. low-temperature structural parts. Annealed Condition Type of steel 18 % Ni 20 % Ni 25 % Ni Yield Strength (0. nickel more than 2. nickel less than 2. As an example.5% “41″ with molybdenum. columbium or titanium. . without columbium or titanium. % 12 10-12 14-16 11 12 Reduction in area. 1 h $ Conditioned 1300°F. 1000 psi 110 115 40 Tensile Strength. 1 h Applications for maraging steels are hulls for hydrospace vehicles. The two following digits “43″ signify “chemically resisting steels without molybdenum. C = 0. motor cases for missiles. % 60 45-58 65-70 45 53 52 52 52 Hardness. It consists of a series of letters and numbers as in the following examples. A steel to material number 1.

Minor Elements Increasing the carbon content in high temperature alloys improves high temperature strength and creep resistance. and tantalum additions preferentially combine with carbon and nitrogen to prevent sensitization and eliminate susceptibility to intergranular corrosion. and corrosion resistance of stainless steel. Thus a steel to X 2 Cr Ni 18 11 corresponds to AISI type 304L.5% chromium because this level of chromium causes the spontaneous formation of a stable.N. and slightly larger additions of copper. Increasing the level of chromium enhances corrosion resistance. protective film. Adding nickel improves toughness. Nickel Nickel promotes the stability of austenite. Molybdenum Molybdenum additions improve resistance to pitting and crevice corrosion in chloride containing environments and corrosion by sulfuric.4301 X5CrNi1810 04Cr18Ni10 SUS304 S30403 304L 1. carbon can be detrimental to corrosion resistance when it combines with chromium to form chromium carbides along grain boundaries. and aluminum are used to modify properties.4016 X6Cr17 05Cr17 SUS430 S41000 410 1. Less nickel is needed to retain an austenitic structure as the nitrogen or carbon levels increase. nitrogen. mechanical properties.g. 17007 / DIN 17006 AISI (USA) India Japan S30100 301 1. titanium. Conversely. Intentional additions of small amount of carbon.431 X12CrNi177 10Cr17Ni7 SUS301 S30400 304 1. tantalum. sulfur. silicon. When sufficient nickel is added to a chromium stainless steel.4306 X2CrNi1911 02Cr18Ni11 SUS304L S31600 316 1.X 2 Cr Ni 18 11 X means that it is a highly alloyed steel 2 indicates the carbon content in 1/100th of a percent. phosphoric. niobium. corrosion and creep. India is using Abbreviated System of Designation Comparison between USA. the structure changes from ferritic to austenitic.4006 X10Cr13 - SUS410 Roll of Alloying Elements in Stainless steel Chromium. UNS Germany W.02% Cr stands for chromium and 18 is the content in % Ni stands for nickel and 11 provides an indication of the content in %. . ductility. and hydrochloric acids.455 X6CrNiNb1810 - SUS347 S43000 430 1.4541 X6CrNiTi1810 04Cr18Ni10Ti20 SUS321 S34700 347 1. manganese. strong acids (particularly reducing acids) and thermal fatigue. chromium provides resistance to oxidation.4401 X5CrNiMo17122 04Cr17Ni12Mo2 SUS316 S31603 316L 1. At elevated temperatures. nickel. and weldability.4404 X2CrNiMo17132 02Cr17Ni12Mo2 SUS316L S32100 321 1. passive. e. Germany. but reduces ductility. Japan and Indian standards for common grades of stainless steel is given in the table given below. This reduces the chromium adjacent to the grain boundary (sensitization) and can lead to corrosion of chromium-depleted areas (intergranular corrosion). Nickel increases resistance to oxidation. Titanium. Chromium A stainless steel contains a minimum of 10. and molybdenum are the primary alloying elements that determine the structure. columbium. C = 0. The elevated temperature mechanical properties of austenitic stainless steels and the strength and tempering resistance of martensitic stainless steels are improved by molybdenum.

Weldability limited. Copper additions improve resistance to sulfuric acid.030 or 0. 431 Hardenable by heat treatment. but the specification does not require this. Limited resistance to stress & weldability. such as 304 and 316. Duplex S32205 Good stress corrosion cracking resistance. Type Examples Advantages Disadvantages Limited corrosion resistance. Ferritic 430. The carbon is kept to 0. and lead in stainless steel improve machinability. Aluminum improves resistance to oxidation. Good mechanical strength in annealed condition. Limited availability.035% maximum.5% in castings intended for service above 1500°F (815°C) because it lowers the high temperature creep property. but with better corrosion resistance than martensitics. As long as the material meets the physical requirements of standard grade.316 Widely available. Mill test certificates give this information.03% carbon. there is no minimum carbon requirement. but this would need to be checked on a case by case basis. fabrication & joining techniques and material costs (total life cycle cost). Silicon is generally limited to 1. Columbium additions can improve high temperature creep strength. mechanical & physical properties. A combination of manganese and nitrogen may be used as a partial substitute for nickel in some stainless steels. Precipitation hardening 17-4 PH Hardenable by heat treatment. available forming. selenium. The “L†grades are used to provide extra corrosion resistance after welding. Excellent formability machinability.03% or under to avoid carbide precipitation. Austenitic 304. Silicon is added to cast stainless steel grades to increase casting fluidity and improve castability. there are “subgrades” – “L” and “H” variants – with particular applications. formabilty & elevated temperature strength compared to austenitics.Nitrogen additions to austenitic and duplex stainless steels improve pitting resistance. corrosion cracking. . The basic approach is to select a grade with as low a cost as possible. 446 Low cost. “L” grades virtually always do fully comply with standard grade requirements.08% carbon. moderate corrosion resistance & good formability. Application temperature range more restricted than austenitics. formability & weldability restricted compared to austenitics. Main Advantages of the Stainless Steel Types When considering stainless the most important features are corrosion (or oxidation) resistance. “L†and “H†Grades The standard/straight grades of austenitic stainless steel contain a maximum of 0. Main advantages and disadvantages of the various stainless steel types are summarized in the table given below. Martensitics 420. There is a misconception that straight grades contain a minimum of 0. Corrosion resistance. Within the usual designations of the common austenitic grades of stainless steel. Good general corrosion resistance Work hardening can limit formability & and good cryogenic toughness. but with the required corrosion resistance. Standard grades can be used as “L” grades as long as their carbon content meets the “L” grade limits of 0. “L” grades can be used as standard grades as long as the mechanical properties (tensile and yield) conform to the standard grade requirements and high temperature strength is not a requirement. The letter “L†after a stainless steel type indicates low carbon (as in 304L). Additions of sulfur. Corrosion resistance compared to austenitics & formability compared to ferritics limited.

this is not an issue for a steel that is primarily intended for high temperature strength.04% carbon and a maximum of . it will result in impaired aqueous corrosion and some reduction in ambient temperature ductility and toughness.It has become quite common for steel mills to supply “L” heats when standard grades have been ordered. and nitrogen 0. welds. concentration of particular chemicals. stagnation. What is the temperature of operation? – High temperatures usually accelerate corrosion rates and therefore indicate a higher grade. The term anneal.04-0. billets and slabs for forging Selection of Stainless Steel Most decisions about which stainless steel to use are based on a combination of the following factors: What is the corrosive environment? – Atmospheric. such as in the field where pipe and fittings are being welded. crevices. Annealed Stainless Steel and Solution Annealing Stainless steels are normally produced and used in the “annealed†condition.10% maximum. generally 0. galvanic couples. not slow cooled as the term “annealed†means for carbon and low alloy steels. The grain size requirement may have to be satisfied by extra testing. “L†grades are used where annealing after welding is impractical. variation in temperature. If an application requires an “H” grade – generally for high temperature applications – this must be specified at time of order. but may be available in some other products. “H” grades are the higher carbon versions of each of the standard grades. chloride content. particularly at elevated temperatures (generally above about 500°C). but real environments are usually more complex. The phrase “solution annealing†means only that the carbides which may have precipitated (or moved) to the grain boundaries are put back into solution (dispersed) into the matrix of the metal by the annealing process. As discussed earlier. these grades are susceptible to sensitization if held in the temperature range of about 450-850°C. . General corrosion resistance is comparatively easy to determine. In addition all austenitic “H” grades must have a grain size of ASTM No 7 or coarser. Important ASTM Standards for Stainless Steels Important ASTM standards for stainless steels are as under. An evaluation of other pertinent variables such as fluid velocity. “H” grades are produced primarily in plate and pipe. Creep strength is higher for these high carbon grades as compared to standard grades. Low temperatures will require a tough austenitic steel. 321. Sometimes the product and test certificates are dual marked “304/304L”.10% carbon and are designated by the letter “H†after the alloy.10%. but high carbon versions of 309. IS 1570 – Schedules for Wrought Steels – Part 5: Stainless and Heat-resisting Steels IS 4454 – Steel Wires for Mechanical Springs – Specification – Part 4 : Stainless Steel Wire IS 5522 – Stainless steel sheets and strips for utensils IS 6603 – Stainless Steel Bars and Flats – Specification IS 6911 – Stainless steel plate. The high carbon results in increased strength of the steel. when used for stainless steels. 347 and 348 are also specified in ASTM A240/A240M. ASTM A240: Chromium and chromium-nickel stainless steel plate. “H” grades can be used as standard grades so long as their carbon contents are 0. Standard grades can often be used in place of “H” grades so long as their carbon contents meet the “H” limits.08% maximum. Applicable grades are most commonly 304H and 316H. and variation from planned operating chemistry are others issues that need to be factored in to selecting the proper stainless steel for a specific environment. turbulence. 310. etc. The “H†grades contain a minimum of . means heat treated at temperatures of 1900°F (1040°C) or higher and water quenched. sheet and strip IS 6913 – Stainless steel tubes for the food and beverage industry IS 6529 – Stainless steel blooms. If it occurs. presence of acid. sheet and strip for pressure vessels ASTM A276: Standard Specification for Stainless Steel Bars and Shapes ASTM A312: Standard Specification for Seamless and Welded Austenitic Stainless Steel Pipes IS Standards for Stainless Steels Indian standards for various products are as under. water. but would need to be checked. In general however. This is highly likely.

duplex. Welding requirement – Austenitic steels are generally more weldable than the other types. high strength austenitic steels produced by work hardening would not be suitable where welding was necessary as the process would soften the steel. Ferritic steels are weldable in thin sections. Surface finish is also important in many applications. Availability – There may be a perfectly correct technical choice of material which cannot be implemented because it is not available in the time required. Other processes such as welding and forming often influence which of these is most suitable. Many stainless steel applications are shown to be advantageous on a life cycle cost basis rather than initial cost. For more information about stainless steels. The site is an excellent source for information on stainless steels. Martensitic and PH grades are less weldable. Duplex steels require more care than austenitic steels but are now regarded as fully weldable. What product form is required? – Not all grades are available in all product forms and sizes. However. martensitic and PH steels.bssa.What strength is required? – Higher strength can be obtained from the austenitic. for example sheet. Degree of forming required to make the component – Austenitic steels are the most formable of all the types being able to undergo a high degree of deep drawing or stretch forming. In general.org.uk. please refer this site. the reverse is true. ferritic steels are not as formable but can still be capable of producing quite intricate shapes.   . particularly where there is a strong aesthetic component. it is important to assess cost on the correct basis. Generally. Duplex. the austenitic steels are available in all product forms over a wide range of dimensions. Acknowledgement: Most of the information on selection of stainless steel is reproduced from website of BRITISH STAINLESS STEEL ASSOCIATION – http://www. tube. For example. Ferritics are more likely to be in sheet form than bar. bar. It must also be borne in mind that steel type alone is not the only factor in material selection. Cost – Sometimes the correct technical option is not finally chosen on cost grounds alone. martensitic and PH grades are not particularly formable. For martensitic steels. There may also be special requirements such as non-magnetic properties to take into account.