Stainless steel is a versatile and widely used material known for its corrosion resistance, durability and aesthetic. It is roughly three times heavier than its popular counterpart, aluminum. Stainless steel is an alloy, meaning the steel is integrated with other elements – mainly chromium, but also nickel, molybdenum and others to a lesser degree. If a steel alloy contains a minimum of 10.5% chromium by mass, it is considered stainless steel. The chromium forms a thin, sealed, protective layer of chromium oxide on the surface of the steel. This layer is responsible for the prevention of rust and corrosion, hence the name.
Stainless steel can be produced using both virgin raw materials or recycled steel obtained from scrap metal and scrap metal recycling in Jacksonville. The process of making stainless steel involves melting, refining, alloying and shaping.
Melting – The process begins by melting the raw materials, which typically include scrap steel and the alloy materials. They are melted together in a large electric arc furnace or an induction furnace.
Refining – The molten metals are then refined to remove any impurities from recycled scrap metal, and the composition is adjusted to control carbon content and balance the chemicals that compose the stainless steel.
Alloying – Here, the chromium, nickel or other metals are added to achieve the desired properties. Chromium is the most crucial element, turning the rough, recycled steel to new stainless steel.
Shaping – Once the alloying process is complete, the molten stainless steel is cast into various shapes, primarily continuous casting – long strands called billets or slabs – or ingot/block casting, depending on the needs of the metal recycling center near your location. The new recycled, stainless-steel metal can then be further processed and formed from there.
Metal fabrication companies will perform additional quality control testing on the chemical composition, mechanical properties and surface quality as they fabricate the final products. Stainless steel products are commonly used in construction, automotive, aerospace, household appliances and eating utensils.