Machines & Maintenance

Uses of Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a type of alloy made from steel, chromium, carbon, and various other elements. Since its invention in 1871 by Harry Brearley, a variety of industries have adopted its use. Here are some examples of objects this amazing metal makes possible.

Bearings

A bearing is a small mechanical part that allows another object to rotate, for example by supporting wheel shafts, turbines, or rotors. They come in different types, including stainless steel roller bearings, ball bearings, and tapered roller bearings. Machines such as cars, airplanes, and generators all function with the help of bearings.

Cutlery

Most modern silverware is not made of the element silver, but rather of stainless steel. While silver may be fancier, steel is much more practical. It is not as soft, so there is less chance of fork tines becoming bent. It also does not tarnish under regular use, so it can be cleaned in the dishwasher without ever needing to scrub away discoloration. Knives, electrical appliances, and sinks are other stainless steel objects you might find in the kitchen.

Jewelry

Not only is stainless steel jewelry attractive, it also is one of the best metals to wear in direct contact with your skin. Unlike other alloys, it does not release damaging nickel ions into the bloodstream. It also does not turn your skin green the way copper does. It is safe to wear in your ears and other piercings, even in the shower or swimming pool. Many other types of jewelry besides just earrings are also made from stainless steel.

Architecture

Second maybe only to concrete, stainless steel is a civil engineer’s favorite substance to work with. Without stainless steel, we would not have large bridges, monuments, and skyscrapers like the Chrysler Building in New York City. It is strong and able to withstand a large amount of tension. It also resists weathering and does not require extensive maintenance.

Medical Instruments

The medical industry relies on stainless steel for production of safe and precise surgical tools. For example, a scalpel made of steel can be relied upon to be sturdy, corrosion-resistant, able to be disinfected, and recyclable. Besides just surgical implements, other medical equipment such as hemostats and some implants also are primarily made of stainless steel.

These are examples of just a few items made from stainless steel. Many more uses exist, and innovative people create new applications of this wonderful alloy all the time.