The aesthetically pleasing bright silver appearance of stainless steel is seen all around us. The fashion for clean lines and shiny surfaces has created many uses for stainless steel in our architecture and fittings and fixtures from shopping centres to up market fitted kitchens. So much so that most people think that stainless steel is a very modern product. It is in fact well over 100 years old. Harry Brearley is usually credited with its invention in 1913 in Sheffield whilst he was working on a corrosion resistant lining for gun barrels.
However this was preceded by Woods and Clark who in 1872 patented an acid and weather resistant iron alloy containingÂ chromium and tungsten. In the intervening years it was understood that a low carbon level of below 0.15 was vital in the development of true stainless steels. Hans Goldschmidt in Germany solved this problem with his 1895 invention of the alumina thermic process. Brierley pulled all this together and created the first stainless steels which apart from the military application soon found favour with the Sheffield cutlery manufacturers in the form of stainless steel strip. In France leon Guillet produced the first iron chrome alloys 410 and 420 stainless steels and lead the way for the 300 series of Iron, nickel chrome stainless steel alloys.
The demands of war and the space race have given us the extensive choice of stainless steels that we have today in Ferritic, Austenitic, Martensitic and Precipitation hardening stainless steel alloys. Whilst stainless steel is available in tube, wire, bar and plate it is as stainless steel strip thatâ€™s its true versatility can be witnessed. The ductility and workability of stainless steel alloys means that they can be cold rolled into precision stainless steel strips in thicknesses from 3mm to 10 micron. Much of this precision stainless steel strip is converted into small components which are hidden from view in a multitude of electrical and electronic components that fit into the devices that we employ every day.
They are in the kitchen appliances that make our breakfast, the tv and sound systems that bring us music and the news, the phones tablets and iPads that give us the instant access to the internet. They are in the car, bus and train which takes us to work and in the PCs on our desk. Infinitely versatile the products produced from stainless steel strip make todays connected world possible.