Stainless steel is the metal of choice in many applications because of its excellent corrosion resistance. It has become a mainstay of modern life, thanks to its sleek beauty and durability. Historically, the process of making stainless steel was slow and expensive. But the development of vacuum and argon oxygen decarburization revolutionized the industry, resulting in a significant decrease in the costs of raw materials needed to produce the material.
Stainless steel is an alloy of iron and other elements such as nickel, silicon, chromium, nitrogen, manganese, and carbon. Altering the amounts of the different elements will fine-tune the properties of the final alloy. Stainless steel gets its corrosion-resistant properties from chromium. Stainless steel becomes more corrosion-resistant if a higher amount of chromium is added to the alloy.
The manufacturing process of stainless steel starts with the melting of raw materials in an electric arc furnace. The metals will melt after about 8 to 12 hours in the hot furnace.
The next step is the removal of excess carbon. This is done by processing the molten metal through argon oxygen decarburization. During this stage, other elements of the alloy are added, such as molybdenum and nickel. When very low carbon content is required, the processing could be done in a vacuum oxygen decarburization converter.
The alloy’s chemical composition can be fine-tuned following the decarburization procedure. This is done by slowly stirring the steel to remove any unwanted elements and improve the alloy’s consistency.
The molten steel can be cast into different forms, including rods, slabs, or tubes. After the steel is formed, it can be hot rolled at a temperature higher than the recrystallization temperature of the steel, which is determined by the steel’s grade. The forms are heated, then passed through the rollers and formed into bars, wires, plates, sheets, or strips. Cold rolling may be used to produce wide sheets of stainless steel with a better surface finish. The stainless steel will also go through annealing, a process to soften it, descaling, cutting, and finishing.
Stainless steel appliances are considered elegant and high-end. If you don’t have the budget to upgrade to stainless steel, there is a cheap remedy available. You can apply stainless steel appliance covers, such as a stainless steel refrigerator cover, to make your old fridge look like a shiny new stainless steel version. Dishwasher covers are also available.