Stainless Steel is a label given to an array of corrosion resistant and high temperature
steels produced as a particular blend of iron. These metals have in excess of 10
% chromium and bring the physical qualities of steels together with distinct corrosion
resistance attributes. As a result of comparatively high chromium content and the
fairly low thermal expansion features, the oxide coating is commonly very thin and
also extremely resistant against eradication. The rate of corrosion depends on many
factors including environmental and project specific conditions and as with aluminium,
the corrosion inhibitor in stainless steel is the passive oxide layer that protects
the surface and it remains stainless because of the oxidation layer. Stainless steel
is a an extremely versatile substance, with many different applications. It is simple
to keep clean, preserves its sheen and is also long lasting.
According to the British Stainless Steel Association, the first ever stainless steel (as we would describe it) was produced by Harry Brearley in 1913. Many other engineers contributed to the discovery, from as far back as 1820, when the effect of adding chromium to iron was investigated although it was not until 1904 that researchers prepared alloys that would become what is now considered stainless steel. Harry Brearley was looking for an erosion resistant material for another application but recognised the potential for his new material for the cutlery industry and it was the local cutlery company that named it as "stainless steel".