Stainless steel has been the benchmark for durability since its creation in the very early 1900s. The invention of stainless steel completely changed the way we thought about metals. Stainless steel revolutionized so many industries; from cooking and cleaning, to automobiles and trucks. But what properties make stainless steel such a desirable material?
Desirable Properties of Stainless Steel: Strength
Stainless steel is remarkably strong given its flexibility. Compared to many other metals, It’s easily bent and shaped into many different products. Some types of stainless steel can also withstand long periods of extreme heat. And don’t be fooled, cooking spaghetti on your stovetop doesn’t count as ‘extreme heat.’ Nuclear power stations use stainless steel on applications that can reach temperatures over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Desirable Properties of Stainless Steel: Rust-Resistant
In the late 1800s, talk of a rust-free metal began to spread. Can you imagine what such an invention would have been like in that era? It’s a miracle the inventors weren’t tried as witches for creating a non-corrosive metal.
All stainless steel will rust, however. When exposed to constant moisture and oxygen, metals don’t stand a chance. However, when stainless steel is properly cared for, very few working environments will corrode it.
Without getting too technical, stainless steel uses a layer of chromium to protect the more delicate inner-metals. The chromium also acts as a filler when the stainless steel gets scratched or dinged. This is why you can scrub a stainless steel pan with aggressive brushes. Any nicks or scratches will quickly be filled with chromium, preventing rust from forming in the imperfections.
Desirable Properties of Stainless Steel: Sanitary
The food and medical industries (and their customers) depend on clean and sterile tools. Many other medals can be cleaned just as well when they’re new, but stainless steel’s longevity and resistance to aggressive cleaning chemicals and tools make it the ideal choice. The smooth, non-abrasive surface also prevents germs and bacteria from building up inside any cracks or pits in the metal.
Desirable Properties of Stainless Steel: Poor Conductor of Electricity
While stainless steel is used primarily because of its strength and rust-resistant properties, the poor conductance of stainless steel is also a benefit. This may not sound like a feature, but when working in construction, manufacturing, and other potentially dangerous industries, injury prevention is paramount. Injuries from electrical shock are very serious and happen all too often. Potentially lethal electrical shock can be mitigated by the stainless steel’s poor conducting properties.
Desirable Properties of Stainless Steel: Magnetic
How else would stainless steel refrigerators hold macaroni pictures and honey-do lists? Actually, much of the stainless steel you see is non-magnetic. However, different combinations of metals can make stainless steel magnetic when it’s necessary.
Don’t take this amazing material for granted! The invention of stainless steel was vital to so many of the inventions we have today. Maybe someday we’ll have personal cleaning robots made from stainless steel!