Stainless steel is a modern alloy developed in the early 1900’s after metallurgists discovered that chromium-iron alloys displayed superior corrosion resistance to carbon steel alloys. The first products using stainless steel were produced in 1908 and the first patents were granted in 1912. Stainless steel, which combines the high strength, hardness, workability and formability of steel with high corrosion resistance and smooth surface finish, is one of the most popular steel alloys and is used in applications throughout industry. It is a low cost material and is 100% recoverable and recyclable.
The corrosion resistance that is unique to stainless steel is the result of a transparent passive film of chromium oxide forms on the surface of the steel and protects it from oxidation. Higher chromium levels increase the corrosion resistance of the steel, but it creases the brittleness of the metal, making it hard to work with.