Steel has been an indispensable resource since time immemorial. It is used across various industries, such as construction, automotive, and manufacturing, which can make our lives easier. For this reason, all companies invest in high-quality steel to ensure their products are reliable and durable. However, raw steel alone is not enough because it has to undergo steel fabrication before it can be used.
Steel fabrication converts steel into a specific shape or forms to turn it into stainless steel. It involves several steps, such as cutting, welding, and finishing, which are all highly technical. Depending on the project, the fabrication process may apply several techniques, such as laser cutting, water jet cutting, and CNC machining. When this is done, stainless steel can be used in various applications, such as medical equipment, kitchen appliances, and structural components. However, few people know how stainless steel fabrication works, so we will discuss the details in this article.
How Is Stainless Steel Fabricated?
Stainless steel fabrication is a linear process, and the steps are as follows:
Step 1: Work Hardening
Work-hardening makes the metal harder and stronger by compressing or deforming it through physical processes, such as hammering, rolling, or pressing. Different types of stainless steel grades respond differently to work hardening and can become harder and stronger after undergoing these processes, so you may need to experiment.
Step 2: Machining
Stainless steel is more complicated to shape and form than other steel variants. This is because its alloying content is higher, making it more difficult to cut and shape with machines. Machining stainless steel requires more precision and special tools to manipulate it, unlike other types of steel, which are easier to work with.
Step 3: Welding
Welding is a process of combining two or more pieces of metal to form a permanent bond. It involves using heat or pressure to fuse the pieces, which can then be cooled to produce a strong, unified piece. Several types of welding join stainless steel, such as gas tungsten arc welding, spot welding, and metal inert gas (MIG) welding. Each method has unique advantages and disadvantages, so you may need to experiment with different techniques for the best results.
Step 4: Soft Soldering
Soft soldering combines two metal pieces using heat and a type of metal called solder. Heat is applied to the metal pieces, causing the solder to melt and form a bond between the two parts. This bond is called wetting and occurs when the liquidus temperature of the solder is below 350 degrees Celsius. The melted solder holds the metal pieces to a strong and reliable connection.
Step 5: Silver Soldering
This process is also known as hard soldering and silver brazing. To connect multiple pieces, a filler metal is heated and poured into the gap between them. This technique uses popular materials that can be treated through stainless steel, copper, mild steel, brass, and cast iron.
The Different Types of Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is merely a generic term, and it has different variants. These include:
Austenitic Stainless Steel
Austenitic stainless steel is incredibly durable, with impressive corrosion resistance and malleability. It is the most commonly used type of stainless steel and comprises 30% nickel and 16-20% chromium. Its applications include kitchen items, food processing, and aircraft parts, and while it is costly, it boasts remarkable tensile strength.
Ferritic Stainless Steel
Ferritic stainless steel has low carbon content, containing between 10-27% chromium, with the possibility of adding other minerals, such as molybdenum and nickel. It has magnetic properties and is not as corrosion-resistant as Austenitic stainless steel. It is still malleable, making it useful for car parts, kitchen utensils, and industrial and architectural machinery applications.
Duplex Stainless Steel
Duplex is a blend of Austenitic and Ferritic steel. It is stronger and corrosion-resistant than other variants because it has a higher amount of chromium, nickel, copper, and molybdenum than other steels, giving it its strength and malleability. It is mainly used to construct storage tanks, underground oil storage, chemical processing, and containers for transporting dangerous chemicals.
Martensitic Stainless Steel
Heat treatment is used to harden Martensitic, which contains a combination of 1.2% carbon and 11.5-18% chromium. Like duplex stainless steel, this type of metal is strong and corrosion-resistant. However, the difference lies in its applications because it is used to create cutlery, turbines, valves, pumps, and medical instruments.
The stainless steel variant you choose for a project ultimately depends on your specific needs. While all stainless steel variants are strong and durable, they have different applications. Because of this, you should research and understand the differences between each type of stainless steel before deciding. This way, your project can benefit from the unique properties of the chosen variant.
If you are looking for a steel distributor in Nashville, TN, KGS Steel – Nashville can help you! We use the best industrial equipment to ensure you get high-quality materials and products for affordable prices. Call us today at 615 460 4620 to request a quote!