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Stainless Steels

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Classified as: Stainless Steels

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A big problem with steels is that they are easily corroded when exposed to damp conditions, particularly if a salty or acidic atmosphere is present. For example, a piece of steel left in a room in which acids are used will very quickly become highly rusted with the characteristic dirty-brown color of steel rust. (Chemically, rust is a hydrated form of iron oxide.) The two major types of stainless steels were both discovered in 1912 by accident because of their unusual resistance to corrosion. The austenitic stainless steel type was discovered in Germany by E. Maurer when he noticed that certain chromium-nickel steels did not rust after being left in a room with acid fumes. The ferritic stainless steel type was discovered in England by H. Brearley when he observed difficulty in trying to etch gun barrels made from a chromium steel. Brearley first used the name stainless steel for the ferritic type of stainless, and the name was later applied to the austenitic stainless.

  • From: Steel Metallurgy for the Non-Metallurgist (ASM International)
  • Published: November 01, 2007
  • Pages: 23
  • Review Type: Peer reviewed