Stainless steel, while it has been used for over a century, is a relatively new material when compared to materials like iron, which has been around for thousands of years. Although this may be hard to believe, especially since stainless steel is used in almost every facet of the industrial industry, its ubiquity simply serves as a testament to what an important breakthrough the discovery and development of this material was.
No single person can take full credit for the invention of stainless steel. However, a few key people contributed to its development. For example, in 1913, a man named Harry Bearly created a material he deemed “rustless steel”. In order to do this, Bearly added chromium, which is a key ingredient in stainless steel, to molten iron in order to create a type of steel that did not rust.
Following Bearly’s discovery, stainless steel was frequently used to manufacture tools, cutlery, and surgical scalpels, and in 1925, it was used to make a tank that could hold nitric acid. This development was important in establishing stainless steel’s impressive resistance to corrosion. Many other uses were discovered for stainless steel in the next few decades, and today, the number of applications for stainless steel are innumerable.
Over the past century, more than 100 types of stainless steel have been discovered. Since there are so many different types, they are divided into four different family groups: duplex, martensitic, ferritic, and austenitic.