The low maintenance nature and attractive appearance of stainless steel along with its unique properties make it an ideal choice for use in a diverse range of engineering applications.
Marcus Schneck, CEO of Birmingham-based Norelem Ltd
, a leading supplier of standard parts and components, said: “Strength, corrosion resistance and hygienic properties are all desirable qualities when it comes to choosing standard components. When engineers face the effects of corrosion it can cause delays, unsafe working environments and maintenance costs further down the line.
“According to the European Standard EN 10088 (British Standards Institution 1995) stainless steel is a low-carbon steel that has at least 10% chromium and a minimum of 1.2% of carbon by weight.
“Increased chromium content, as well as the addition of other elements such as molybdenum, nickel and nitrogen, improves the steel's corrosion resistance and other useful properties such as standard components.”
He continued: “It is predicted that the global stainless steel market will reach $163.5 million by 2027. The shear strength of stainless steel is one of the main reasons for its popularity. Stainless steel is also a common choice for many because of its aesthetic appeal while it comes in a variety of surface treatments, and the fact that it may also be polished also adds to its aesthetic value. It also has a long lifecycle and is 100% recyclable — it is even used to make cutlery.
“However, not all stainless steel is the same, there are big differences between each grade. For applications where very high corrosion resistance is required, products made of 1.4404 austenitic stainless steel (AISI 316L, V4A, A4L) should be used.
“Stainless steel comes in approximately 150 grades, with 15 of them being regularly used in everyday applications. Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, stainless steel is commonly used for industrial and residential applications, including plates, coils, bars, sheets, and tubes. It is also used in a variety of industries, including construction, automotive, and more. It is simply the most effective and efficient choice for many applications.”Advantages of stainless steel
Mr Schenk added: “Compared to carbon steels and aluminum, stainless steel is more difficult to process and more expensive to buy, however, the numerous benefits mentioned earlier will more often than not, outweigh the higher cost.
“Those who are unfamiliar with stainless steel will be dazzled by the various types and grades, and it is critical to choose the right one in order to produce a satisfying design that can be made at a fair and profitable cost.
“If engineers want to make the most of stainless steel, they should consider all aspects of the design, as they should with any other material. For example, careful consideration of forming and joining methods is required for the most optimal design to be produced.”
Mr Schenk explained: In recent years and months, the material trends in the healthcare industry have been moving more and more towards stainless steel, but special products for hygienic applications are also increasingly in demand. Stainless steel has a long history of successful use in the most demanding medical applications such as implants and surgical instruments, which require extremely sterile conditions.
“In locations, where sanitation and ease of cleaning are critical, stainless steel has a proven track record of effectiveness. Easy to clean, stainless steel makes it the preferred choice for hygienic environments such as hospitals, restaurants, and public kitchens. As a result, delivering standard stainless steel components is a surefire strategy to ensure the safest products are produced.
“A few industries that use stainless steel extensively are: food and catering, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, medical equipment manufacturing, architecture and construction and automotive manufacturing.”Industry insight
He said: For applications where high stability and corrosion resistance must be guaranteed, norelem provides a wide range of stainless steel standard components. With the need for durable and safe components across many industries, norelem’s stainless steel components are of the highest quality.
“Due to certain performance characteristics, norelem uses 1.4301 (AISI 304, V2A) or 1.4305 (AISI 303) grade stainless steel for a large number of its standard components. For applications with very high demands, norelem also has stainless steel products made of 1.4404 (AISI 316L, V4A, A4L) in its range. The 1.4404 stainless steel products are specifically targeted at the food, pharmaceutical, chemical and packaging industries due to its hygienic properties.
“With an ever-increasing component range, norelem provides various stainless steel components such as bolts, nuts and washers, spring plungers, indexing plungers and handles, to tube connectors, adjustable feet and even linear units.”
Mr Schenk added: “For example, workpieces are typically clamped with spring plungers and can be used as a positioning aid, a locking mechanism, or a clamping mechanism. Mechanical engineering, plant engineering, electronics production, and the automotive industry all use spring plungers.
“For applications in which the spring plungers have to withstand heavy demands, for example, in outdoor use or in medical technology, there are multiple norelem spring plungers available that are made of corrosion-resistant materials, such as stainless steel.
“Stainless steel is one of the most produced materials on earth, from cutlery and kitchen utensils and water bottles to surgical equipment, building infrastructure and reactor tanks, stainless steel is a remarkable innovation.
He concluded: “As far as worldwide materials go, stainless steel is one of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly. With benefits including corrosion resistance, durability, low maintenance, and hygienic properties, it's no surprise that engineers favour stainless steel components for machinery or product design.”