Some mistakenly believe stainless steel is only worth using in the medical supply and food industries where sterilization is of utmost concern. Engineers and architects, as well, may overlook the metal because of its price tag. However, the unique advantages of stainless steel often justify the higher upfront cost because it offers tremendous value for projects in which the longevity of the part is paramount.
What is Stainless Steel?
Stainless steel is a low-carbon alloy of iron that’s at least 11 percent chromium. The chromium creates a thin, oxidized layer on the surface of the steel, imbuing it with corrosion resistance and regenerative properties in high-heat or oxygenated environments.
Since being discovered in 1913, stainless steel has been used in hundreds of industries and applications. Its superior properties make it ideal for everything from automobiles and medical instruments to architecture, wastewater treatment plants, and the nuclear industry.
There is a myriad of benefits to using stainless steel in metal fabrication. Some of the primary advantages are explained below:
Stainless steel’s most unique characteristic is its inherent ability to resist rust, water stains, and general wear. It’s especially durable when compared to other metals because these anti-corrosive properties allow it to withstand a wider range of environments.
Stainless steel comes in more than 100 different grades, which are created by adding alloys such as carbon, manganese, nickel, nitrogen, and silicon in addition to chromium. Lower grades are effective in protecting parts used in marine atmospheres, while higher grades are preferred for parts that will be exposed to acidic or alkaline solutions.
If preventing fire is a priority for your component, then chromium-nickel alloyed stainless steel is likely the best material to use. It can’t be ignited, won’t melt until it reaches a temperature of 2552 degrees Fahrenheit, and outperforms both aluminum and galvanized steel during prolonged exposure to fire and heat.
This is why stainless steel is often used in building construction or where volatile substances need to be stored and kept at a controlled temperature. You will also commonly see it used in products regularly exposed to extreme temperatures, like some firefighting equipment and cookware.
Higher grades of stainless steel offer a substantial strength-to-weight advantage, meaning they can withstand heavy forces with less material than other metals. Under the right circumstances, this characteristic can greatly improve a product’s ROI.
Stainless steel is one of the most environmentally friendly materials. It can be recycled an infinite number of times without losing its strength and quality. In fact, most stainless steel parts are composed of about 60 percent recycled material. By choosing stainless steel over other non-recyclable raw materials, you help reduce the environmental impact of your fabricated products.
The lifecycle cost of a part (how long it lasts and the potential cost to replace it) should always be considered before it’s commissioned.
Stainless steel drastically increases parts’ durability and lifespan because of its ability to fight corrosion and resist heat. This means it’s often the more cost-effective choice in the long term compared to other raw materials.
If you’re looking to do what’s best for your bottom line, it’s hard to argue against the savings created by a maintenance-free part that can last for decades.
Custom Stainless Steel Fabrication at Badger Sheet Metal Works
Badger Sheet Metal Works is one of the few metal fabrication and welding shops that has a dedicated space for its stainless steel operations. The advanced stainless steel room is highlighted by the company’s LYNX Timesaver surface-finishing machine. It gives the team the ability to enhance the quality of a surface or prepare it for paint application. The LYNX machine is used to apply Scotch-Brite™ No. 4 polish finish and deburr the metal. In a single pass, the machine completes three steps using two sanding drums, a Scotch-Brite™ drum and a water filtration system to keep the parts cool.
The LYNX Timesaver, and everything else located in BSMW’s stainless steel room, are maintained at stringent 3-A Sanitary Standards.
Stainless steel fabrication can include projects such as:
- Bottling equipment
- Sanitary and bulk process hoppers
- Packaging components
- Process piping
For more information about Badger Sheet Metal Works’ custom stainless steel fabrication capabilities, reach out online or call 920-435-8881 today.