In the world of manufacturing and engineering, precision is a cornerstone of quality and performance. Within this precision-focused landscape, stainless steel has established itself as a reliable and versatile material of choice. Machined stainless steel parts with excellent mechanical properties, precision, and repeatability.
Characteristics of Stainless Steel
Stainless steel’s popularity in precision machining is underpinned by a range of exceptional characteristics that cater to the stringent demands of various industries.
Exceptional corrosion resistance
Corrosion resistance is arguably the most renowned feature of stainless steel. This resistance to rust and corrosion is due to the presence of chromium, an alloying element that forms a protective oxide layer on the surface of the steel. This oxide layer acts as a barrier, preventing the underlying metal from interacting with corrosive agents, including moisture, acids, and salts.
Strength and Durability
Stainless steel boasts strength and durability that rivals some of the most robust engineering materials. Its inherent strength allows it to withstand substantial mechanical loads, making it suitable for applications in which structural integrity is essential. The ability to maintain this strength over time, even in corrosive environments, adds to its appeal.
It refers to how easily a material can be shaped, cut, and formed without negatively affecting the precision and quality of the final component. Stainless steel forms small and manageable chips during machining, which contributes to a cleaner and more efficient machining process. The tool wear is small.
Stainless steel maintains its structural integrity at high temperatures. High-temperature resistance is a valuable characteristic in industries where components are subjected to elevated temperatures, such as aerospace, automotive, and industrial processing.
Types of Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is not a one-size-fits-all material; it comes in various types, each with its own unique blend of properties, making it suitable for different applications. These stainless steel types are classified based on their microstructure and alloying elements.
Austenitic stainless steels are the most common and widely used stainless steel type. They are characterized by their face-centered cubic (FCC) crystal structure, which is the most stable form at room temperature. This microstructure provides exceptional corrosion resistance and strength, making austenitic stainless steel versatile and ideal for a wide range of applications.
- Non-magnetic: Austenitic stainless steels are non-magnetic, making them suitable for applications where magnetic properties are undesirable.
- Formability: Austenitic stainless steels can be easily formed and welded, making them suitable for applications such as kitchen equipment, sinks, and architectural features.
- Excellent corrosion resistance: Austenitic stainless steel is corrosion-resistant, but prone to stress corrosion cracking.
Common grades:201, 202, 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 308, 309, 310, 314, 316, 317, 321, 347, 348, and 384.
Ferritic stainless steels are characterized by a body-centered cubic (BCC) crystal structure. They have a higher chromium content and lower nickel content compared to austenitic stainless steels. Ferritic stainless steels offer good corrosion resistance, particularly in mildly corrosive environments.
- Magnetic: Ferritic stainless steels are magnetic, which can be advantageous in applications where magnetic properties are needed.
- Corrosion resistance: While not as corrosion-resistant as austenitic steels, ferritic stainless steel machined parts are still suitable for various applications, including automotive exhaust systems and appliances.
Common grades: 405, 409, 430, 434, 436, 442, and 446.
Martensitic stainless steels have a body-centered tetragonal (BCT) crystal structure and are known for their hardness and ability to be heat-treated to increase strength. They have a lower chromium content compared to austenitic and ferritic stainless steels.
- High hardness: Martensitic stainless steels can be hardened and tempered to achieve high levels of hardness and wear resistance, making them suitable for applications like cutlery and surgical instruments.
- Magnetic: They are magnetic, which can be advantageous in applications where magnetic properties are required.
- Moderate corrosion resistance: Martensitic stainless steels have moderate corrosion resistance and are typically used in applications where hardness and wear resistance are more critical than corrosion resistance.
Common grades: 410, 414, 416, 420, 431, and 440.
Duplex stainless steel combines the characteristics of both austenitic and ferritic stainless steels. They have a mixed microstructure, with roughly equal amounts of austenite and ferrite. This combination provides a unique set of properties, including higher strength and improved resistance to stress corrosion cracking.
- Higher strength: Duplex stainless steels offer significantly higher strength compared to austenitic stainless steels, making them suitable for structural components in chemical processing and offshore applications.
- Improved corrosion resistance: They exhibit improved resistance to stress corrosion cracking and chloride-induced pitting corrosion, making them suitable for aggressive environments.
Common grades: S32101、S32304、S32003、S31803、S32205、S32760、S32750、S32550、S32707 and S33207.
Precipitation hardening stainless steels, also known as PH stainless steels, are a unique category. These steels achieve their high strength through a heat treatment process that forms precipitates in the material, creating a hardening effect.
- High strength: PH stainless steels can achieve exceptional levels of strength, often surpassing other stainless steel types.
- Corrosion resistance: They provide good corrosion resistance, making them suitable for applications in aerospace, marine, and chemical industries.
- Machinability: While not as easy to machine as austenitic stainless steels, precipitation-hardening stainless steels offer a balance between strength and machinability.
Common grades: 17-7 PH, PH 15-7 Mo, 17-4 PH, and 15-5 PH.
Applications of Machined Stainless Steel Parts
Stainless steel machining parts find their way into a wide range of industries and applications, offering a blend of durability, corrosion resistance, and precise engineering.
- Exhaust Systems
- Fuel Injection Systems
- Landing gear, hydraulic systems, and structural elements
- Aircraft Engines
- Satellites and Spacecraft
Medical Devices and Equipment
- Surgical Instruments
- Surgical Instruments
- Dental Instruments
Food Processing and Packaging
- Conveyors, mixers, and pumps
- Packaging machinery
- Cutlery, kitchen utensils, and cookware
- Storage containers
Construction and Architecture
- Structural components
- Fasteners, anchors, and glass spigots
- Handrails, facades, and sculptures
Marine and Offshore Engineering
- Boat fittings, propellers, and rigging
- Offshore platforms
Popular Stainless Steel Alloys
Stainless steel comes in various models, each tailored to specific applications.
Ultimate tensile strength
(modulus of elasticity)
Elongation at break
Stainless Steel 303
580 – 700 MPa
205 – 350 MPa
192 – 200 GPa
40 – 50 %
Stainless Steel 304
Better weldability and formability, slightly more corrosion resistant
191 – 205 GPa
Stainless Steel 316
Better corrosion resistance
480 – 600 MPa
170 – 230 MPa
190 – 205 GPa
Stainless steel 2205
Excellent corrosion resistance, magnetic, good weldability,
620 – 700 MPa
425 – 500 MPa
195 – 205 GPa
14 – 28 %
Stainless Steel Alloy 420
Corrosion resistance and high electrical resistivity
190 – 205 GPa
15 – 20 %
Stainless Steel Alloy 440
High carbon, hardenable to RC 60
560 – 800 MPa
340 – 430 MPa
204 – 215 GPa
14 – 18 %
17-4 PH Stainless Steel
Excellent corrosion resistance and heat treatable
790 – 1200 MPa
520 – 860 MPa
197 – 207 GPa
3 – 16 %
Precision machining of stainless steel parts is a critical aspect of modern manufacturing.The versatility of machined stainless steel parts is a testament to their widespread use. They can be found in numerous industries, from automotive to aerospace, medical to construction.