Stainless steel accessories - an introduction
In a relatively short amount of time, stainless steel accessories have become one of the most highly-used applications. Here is a brief background on stainless steel including its component elements, history, and some of its applications.
Metallurgy of stainless steel used in stainless steel accessories
Steel is an alloy made by fusing together carbon and iron. Generally, a relatively small amount of carbon is present in the alloy. Any amount between five-one hundredths of a percent to as much as 2.1 percent of carbon by weight can be present in the steel. As the amount of carbon rises, so does its hardness.
The stainless steel in stainless steel accessories has the typical mix of carbon and iron, but has chromium added into the mix. This chromium gives stainless steel its natural sheen as well as its other remarkable properties. Upon coming into contact with air, chromium quickly forms an external skin called chromium oxide. Since only 10.5 percent by weight of stainless steel is comprised of chromium, the skin is not visible to the naked eye. The skin prevents corrosive elements from attacking and wearing away at the steel underneath, making stainless steel resistant to corrosion and water. Finally, the chromium oxide skin also acts as scratch-resistance. When an abrasive surface rubs against the skin, it disperses and quickly reforms over the steel, protecting it from scratching.
History of stainless steel and stainless steel accessories
While ancient Mesopotamian smiths have been using steel for the last 4000 years, stainless steel has been in use for only a little more than 100 years. But it was only until Harry Bearley discovered the correct ratio of iron and chromium that it experienced a surge in popularity. Bearley is the man most commonly credited for being the inventor of stainless steel for stainless steel accessories. He noted the role chromium played in creating steel that was more corrosion-resistant than before. This all happened in 1913 while he was researching on possible materials for gun barrels that were more resistant to corrosion.
Applications of stainless steel
Stainless steel has since been used in a variety of ways, in everything from foundations for skyscrapers to cutlery. Some surgical implements and implants are made from a special kind of stainless steel called surgical stainless steel which has a layer of molybdenum in it to give it additional rust and corrosion protection.
Automotive stainless steel accessories have also become available. Chrome-alloy wheels, bumpers, fenders, and parts for the engine all require a material that can conduct heat and prevent corrosion from setting in -- properties that stainless steel accessories have in abundance. Because of its natural sheen, stainless steel accessories can also be used as a beautification accessory, giving building facades, cars, trucks, and even kitchen countertops added sheen and luster.