Stainless steel is a popular choice for a wide range of commercial, industrial, and everyday applications. Engineers consider it ideal for its strength and corrosion resistance, while architects and building designers favor its unique finish.
Also utilized to fabricate kitchen and food processing equipment, stainless steel doesn’t require a surface coating and is easy to clean and sterilize. Ventilators and other medical equipment essential to the battle against COVID-19 often incorporate stainless steel components.
Created for Strength and Performance
Stainless steel is produced by combining iron and chromium to create a family of alloys with exceptional anti-corrosion and stain-resistant capabilities. Adding other elements like nickel, copper, or molybdenum yields stainless steel variations with enhanced strength, corrosion resistance, and other desirable properties.
There are five classes of stainless steel:
Martensitic Stainless Steel
Martensitic stainless is a chromium steel with added nickel. Hardenable and corrosion resistant, it is predominately used in applications that require strength and resistance to wear. All grades of martensitic stainless steel are magnetic. Martensitic alloys typically fall within the 400 series of stainless grades.
Typical applications for martensitic stainless steel include the production of machine parts, fasteners, surgical instruments, pumps, and valves.
Ferritic Stainless Steel. Ferritic stainless steel is resistant to cracking, corrosion, and oxidation. Ferritic stainless cannot be heat treated but can be cold worked once annealed. It is a straight chromium steel with no nickel added. Ferritic grades of stainless also comprise the 400 series of stainless steel grades.
Ferritic stainless steel is commonly used to craft decorative trim, automobile exhaust components, and furnace and heater parts.
Austenitic Stainless Steels. The most commonly used stainless steel, austenitic stainless contains high levels of chromium and nickel. This composition gives the alloy excellent corrosion resistance and strength. Austenitic stainless steel is non-magnetic and cannot be heat treated but can be hardened through cold working.
Duplex (Ferritic-Austenitic) Stainless Steels. A combination of ferritic and austenitic stainless, duplex stainless steel is roughly twice as strong as its donor materials. Duplex grades are resistant to corrosion and have greater ductility (the ability to stretch under tensile strain) than ferritic stainless.
Duplex stainless steel is often employed for chemical processing, in petrochemical environments, and for equipment exposed to seawater.
Precipitation-Hardening Stainless Steels. Precipitation hardening (PH) stainless steels are heat treatable to improve strength and hardness. They possess excellent strength, corrosion resistance, and fabricability properties. Different types of PH stainless combine copper or nickel to modify their characteristics and performance.
PH stainless steel is common in marine and aeronautic applications.
A Boon to Builders
Architects and designers rely on stainless steel for both its strength and aesthetic qualities. From the Chrysler Building in New York to the Art Gallery of Alberta, stainless steel is an essential component in some of the world’s most famous buildings.
Elevator interiors and doors, handrails, and interior building panels are commonly constructed with stainless steel, as is exterior building cladding. Often paired with aluminum for building applications, stainless steel is low maintenance, welds easily, and offers an attractive finish. Architects pursuing more sustainable building practices also favor stainless steel for its ability to be recycled (up to 90% of all stainless steel produced is recycled material).
Stainless Steel for Healthcare
From walkers and wheelchairs to hospital beds, stainless steel products such as stainless steel sheet are ubiquitous in healthcare and laboratory environments. Smooth surfaces and a natural passivation layer mean stainless steel components are less chemically reactive and easy to clean, essential for eliminating viruses and other contaminants.
A Fit for Pharma and Food Manufacturing
More than 30% of all stainless steel produced is utilized in the food and beverage industry. From commercial food processing machines to preparation areas (e.g., sinks, surfaces, pots, and pans), stainless steel is prized for its durability, corrosion resistance, and hygienic qualities. Type 304 stainless steel, often referred to as ‘food grade,’ contains high percentages of nickel (between 8 and 10.5%) to increase corrosion resistance.
Stainless steel is also widely used in the pharmaceutical industry for its heat tolerance and ability to withstand exposure to heat-based and chemical sanitization.
Pharmaceutical production equipment, including pumps, pipes, taps, storage tanks, and other components, is often manufactured with stainless steel.
Your Full-Service Stainless Steel Supplier
Diversified Ulbrich maintains one of the largest and most comprehensive stainless steel inventories in North America. Our bars, beams, coils, and other products are available in dozens of grades and finishes — with most available for next-day or same-day shipping.
We know that every project is different, and some present unique challenges. That’s why Diversified Ulbrich has an on-staff mill metallurgist to assist our customers with troubleshooting, product selection, and technical support. We also maintain an ecosystem of value-added partners that can provide custom finishing, cutting, and fabrication. Working with these partners ensures that Diversified Ulbrich can provide complete, innovative solutions to meet even your most challenging requirements.
Whether it’s hard-to-source materials, expedited shipping, or out-of-the-box solutions, you can count on Diversified Ulbrich.
Fast Turnaround & Delivery
Metallurgists and Product Specialists on Staff
Serving Canada and the US Metal Needs