The Advantages of Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is now over 100 years old. When it first came out, it was a novelty. Now it’s an absolutely indispensable part of daily life. The story of stainless steel, in fact, is a story of new steel fabrication technology entering the market. At a time when materials science is making breakthroughs every day, it’s interesting to see how new products were received historically.
Stainless Steel Basics
Stainless steel is an alloy of steel made of chromium and nickel. It was originally invented in the search for corrosion-resistant steel, and this was the product that passed the test. In the early 20th century, a lot of steel was being produced, but most of it was corroding and rusting away as fast as it was produced.
The problem, of course, was that rusty tools and machinery don’t work too well. Stainless steel wasn’t really very good for any kind of machinery. It’s strong, but not strong enough to take the kind of pressures that steel machine parts experience.
The other side of the coin was that stainless steel was perfect for just about everything else, from cookware to cutlery and much more. Stainless steel rapidly became one of the most successful products of the 20th century.
By the 1950s, stainless steel was a virtual lifestyle statement. Gleaming steel, including steel furniture weeks and frames, and nearly everything else was everywhere. The secret was that stainless steel is very easy to work. That means that production is quick, simple and cheap.
The advantages of stainless steel were obvious. Consumers didn’t need to know much more than that it was good and cheap to buy stainless steel and gigantic quantities from the 1950s through to the present day.
The advent of tube steel in the 1950s was another breakthrough. Those very average-looking stainless steel chairs you see today were the marvels of 1950s technology. Tube steel is light, easy to bend, and easy to shape. It was the ideal material for a vast range of household products.
Modern Stainless Steel
Modern stainless steel is a virtual designer product in some cases. The big beautiful new fridges and other products you see made of stainless steel are the latest incarnations of this metal. The “stainless steel look” is now a designer standard look.
Future stainless steel may be an advanced version of the current metal, or even a completely new alloy, the way material science is going. Next time you look at a stainless steel product, just remember the history. Stainless steel is a testimony to human ingenuity, inventiveness and innovation.
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