Stainless steels are primarily used when corrosion or oxidation is a problem. The function that they perform cannot be duplicated by other materials for their cost. Over 50 years ago, it was discovered that a minimum of 12% chromium would impart corrosion and oxidation resistance to steel. Hence the definition “Stainless Steels”, are those ferrous alloys that contain a minimum of 12% chromium for corrosion resistance. This development was the start of a family of alloys which has enabled the advancement and growth of chemical processing and power generating systems upon which our technological society is based.
Subsequently several important sub-categories of stainless steels have been developed. The sub-categories are austenitic, martensitic, ferritic, duplex, precipitation hardening and super alloys.