Categories, grades and product forms

There are four main types of stainless steels:

Austenitic stainless steels contain a significant amount of chromium, and sufficient nickel or manganese to stabilise the austenite microstructure that gives these steels good formability and ductility (and makes them non-magnetic). A typical composition is 18 % chromium and 8 % nickel, as found in the popular AISI 304 grade. (AISI is an abbreviation of American Iron and Steel Institute and is commonly used as a grade designation.) Austenitic grades can be highly durable and corrosion resistant and have high ductility, low yield stress, relatively high tensile strength and good weldability. They have a very wide range of uses.

Ferritic stainless steels have properties similar to those of mild steel but show better corrosion resistance. Most common are 11 % and 16 % chromium containing grades – the former used mostly in vehicle exhaust systems and the latter mostly in cooking utensils, washing machines and Indoor architecture.

Austenitic-Ferritic (Duplex)
These stainless steels, which contain high chromium and some nickel, have a microstructure that is roughly 50 % ferritic and 50 % austenitic. They are mostly used in the process industry and in seawater applications.

Like ferritic grades, martensitic grades contain 12 to 16 % chromium. However, they have higher carbon content and are subjected to specific heat treatments during production, making them very hard and strong. They are used in applications such as turbine blades, cutlery and razor blades.


More details can be found in the publications below.

Duplex Stainless Steels

Duplex stainless steels form the latest family of stainless steels, tested as early as in the 1930’s and mass produced from the 1970’s onwards. Their excellent mechanical properties and their corrosion resistance have made them a first choice material for high-load applications in corrosive environments.

This reference document will inform and guide readers in how to appropriately select the correct duplex stainless steel for specific projects. It will also provide sound guidance for the selection of duplex stainless steels, when this family of stainless steels may not have been otherwise considered. This brochure is recommended for producers, material specifiers, architects, OEMs and stockists, with the knowledge that they will all find this a helpful tool in their material selection decisions and market development activities.

This brochure is available in Chinese, English and German.

Martensitic Stainless Steels

Martensitic stainless steels have an excellent strength to weight ratio, strong resistance to corrosion, a good hardness and a wide range of applications, of which the best known are probably knife steels, which are capable of holding a sharp edge.

To provide the right environment for further growth of this range of materials it was necessary to research existing and potential applications, to provide a technical introduction to the material and testimonials from existing producers who have used the material and can talk with authority about its value.

This brochure is available in Chinese, English and German.

The Ferritic Solution

Ferritic stainless steels share most of the mechanical and corrosion-resistance properties of their more expensive cousins, austenitic stainless steels. However, unlike the austenitics, ferritic stainless steels contain no nickel. This makes them a cost-effective alternative in many applications.

The Ferritic Solution provides an overview of the properties of ferritic stainless steels, the advantages of using them and the applications where they can be used. The Ferritic Solution is a crucial reference document for stainless steel users, specifiers and producers.

This brochure is available in Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish.
[clicking on the language will open the pdf]

"New 200-series" steels: An Opportunity or a Threat to the Image of Stainless Steel?

This technical booklet contains a guide to chrome-manganese austenitic stainless steels and advice for potential users. The guide has been produced by the worldstainless Committee on Market Development, and approved by the worldstainless Board of Directors.

The booklet is available in English and Chinese 
[clicking on the language will open the pdf]


Navigating the complexities of terminology can be confusing if you don’t have a degree in metallurgy. How are stainless steels and CRAs categorized and graded? What is the difference between a superaustenitic, a superalloy and a nickel alloy? How do all the grading systems gear with one another? This article attempts to guide you through the labyrinth of stainless steel and CRA terminology.
Source: Stainless Steel World, June 2015,

Click here to download
Practical Guidelines for the Fabrication of High Performance Austenitic Stainless Steels

In recent years, new highly corrosion-resistant austenitic stainless steels have entered the marketplace. They have demonstrated cost-effective performance in a variety of harsh and corrosive environments. This brochure provides basic information on HPASS grades and compares them to the standard grades. Its primary focus is to compare the fabrication characteristics of the two groups of steels, and to identify similarities and differences between them. This information will help those responsible for fabricating HPASS to manufacture a high-quality product that will perform successfully in the field.
Source: Nickel Institute and International Molybdenum Association

Click here to download
The Atlas Steels Technical Handbook of Stainless Steels

A review by Atlas Steels of the grades, properties and processing.

Click here to download
Why is Stainless Steel Stainless?

Article provides a brief description of stainless steel and why it has stainless characteristics.
Source: A.M. Helmenstine PhD

See the article here
Austenitic Chromium-Manganese Stainless Steels: A European Approach

For Cr-Mn stainless steel to become more acceptable in a European environment, a high level of standardisation is required. Providing technical information has been made a priority, to avoid misunderstanding and improper use.
To respond to these needs, a working group with representatives of the main European flat stainless steel producers was created, under the umbrella of Euro Inox. Its main conclusions are present in this publication.

Click here to download
200 series stainless steels - high manganese (CrMn)

Most growth in 200-series use over recent years has been in low-nickel and therefore lowchromium versions which have less corrosion resistance than grade 304. The end result has been corrosion failures in some applications and dissatisfied customers.
Source: Australian Stainless Steel Development Association

See the article here
Rationale for using Stainless Steel Reinforcement in the UK Construction Industry

This paper outlines the approach developed in the UK in relation to the cost effective use of stainless steel reinforcement.

Download the paper here
Design Guidelines for the Selection and Use of Stainless Steel

Overview of a broad range of stainless steels; their compositions, properties, fabrication and use. Offers guidance on selecting the proper stainless steel by weighing four elements: corrosion or heat resistance; mechanical properties; fabrication operations; and total cost.
Source: Specialty Steel Industry of North America

Download the overview here
Grade 316

Topics covered: Background - Key properties -- Composition -- Mechanical Properties -- Physical Properties -- Grade Specification Comparison -- Possible Alternative Grades - Corrosion Resistance - Heat Resistance - Heat Treatment - Welding - Machining - Dual Certification - Applications
Source: The A to Z of Materials

See the article here
Stainless Steel – General Information

This extract from the pages of Wikipedia, the web’s free encyclopedia, contains some general information and an interesting summary of the historical evolution of the iron-chromium alloys.
Source: Wikipedia

Open article here
What is Stainless Steel?

A compact 6-page folder has been produced, entitled "What Is Stainless Steel?" Addressed to designers, fabricators and stockholders, it provides a concise summary of the principal families, main properties, commonly available finishes and process routes. Three graphs show how the various austenitic, ferritic and Duplex grades are interrelated and what the alloying elements confer to their technical properties.

The folder is available in Czech, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish
[clicking on the language will open the folder]

Understanding Stainless Steel

A book to help everyone along the supply chain gain a basic understanding of Stainless Steel.
Source: British Stainless Steel Association

See the article here
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