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How to Choose The Right Steel Grade

How to Choose The Right Steel Grade

How do you choose the right steel grade?


  1. Corrosion Resistance
  2. Operating Environment
  3. Mechanical Properties
  4. Magnetism
  5. Material Cost


It’s a known fact that not all steel grades are created equally. The different properties can impact various elements depending on what you’re using it for. When choosing the right steel grade, you need to know some basics to get started. There are lots of grades to choose from and you need to know how to properly select the right one that fits your project. Here’s how you can do it.


Corrosion Resistance

Corrosion resistance is why many people choose to buy stainless steel. Stainless steel is used for many applications including medical, food and beverage, and industrial. This property is an important aspect of the material that is very notable. If you plan to use stainless steel for construction, the wrong grade can make the structural integrity go awry in the future. The right grade can impact the quality of the output and longevity of the project or item.

Stainless steel has corrosion-resistant properties that appeal to many. However, there are other considerations when choosing corrosion resistant steel. You need to know the amount and type of corrosion resistance you require as different grades use different amounts. The higher the amount of chromium stainless steel has, the higher the level of corrosion resistance. Austenitic stainless steel, ferritic, and martensitic stainless steel have high levels of corrosion resistance.


Operating Environment

Operating Environment

Steel can be used in a lot of environments. There are different grades that can fit specific conditions with their compositional properties. Low pH, high stress, and high temperatures can negatively impact the performance of stainless steel. Where you will use stainless steel will also help you choose the correct grade.

You need to consider where you will use the final product. The operating environment is a vital component before finding the correct stainless steel grade. Stainless steel can be used as a door frame for homes and offices. However, in extreme temperatures, high-stress conditions, and crevice corrosion, your typical steel grade may not be enough. Any steel grade can also benefit from proper, high-quality structural design to defend against these elements.


Mechanical Properties

There are three mechanical qualities you should remember. Strength, toughness, and ductility are the most important mechanical qualities you need to consider when choosing the proper stainless steel grade. As mentioned in the previous section, the chromium property contributes to the corrosion resistance. The austenitic grade is the presence of nickel. The higher the nickel percentage, the higher the toughness and ductility. This means that stainless steel grades with high levels of chromium and nickel are more suitable to use depending on what you need.

However, concentrating on the alloying element should not be your main focus. How the stainless steel material is processed will also affect it mechanically. Steel exposed to different temperatures in the cooling process will achieve different effects. How quickly it’s cooled will also determine mechanical properties. Tools that use heat treatment have increased hardness due to the carbon being processed. However, austenitic stainless steel uses lower temperatures to create different outputs. Stainless steel that uses cold working operations will have decreased elongation and impact resistance.



Different families of stainless steel will have different magnetic properties which are determined by the alloy elements added. Stainless steel displays using a ferritic structure become magnetic because of the added chromium. TO harden the material, carbon is added to the mix to make it martensitic. Adding nickel to the elemental component makes the physical structure of the stainless steel non-magnetic. Opt for ferritic and martensitic stainless steel for higher magnetism.


Material Cost

Material Cost

High-grade austenitic stainless steel is quite expensive but worth investing in. Even if it’s expensive up front, the properties make up for the cost. High corrosion resistance reduces maintenance, replacement and downtime costs. The material life-cycle is significantly increased and can help save a lot of money in the future. Cheaper materials will do the trick in the meantime but it can be a hit or miss as there are many conditions stainless steel will face. Natural degradation, wear and tear, and the elements will impact even the most expensive stainless steel but the quality is not comparable to cheaper stainless steel. You will find yourself needing to repair and replace these more often.


Key Takeaway

Choosing the right steel grade is essential for a successful output. There are different factors that everyone should take consideration of as there are tons of components that can affect the stainless steel grade. Depending on what you need, the best stainless steel grade will include different mechanical and chemical properties. These grades also range in varying prices and can be suitable for different uses. The right stainless steel supplier can help you choose material requirements and help you find the perfect stainless steel grade. Make sure to remember these key points when talking to your supplier.

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