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Buying The Right Stainless Steel For Your Needs

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Stainless steel is readily available from metal suppliers in most areas, but buying stainless steel may not be as simple as it seems. You need to know the properties required for the stainless steel you will use, and there are differences in the material depending on what grade you are using. 

What Is Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is not naturally occurring, but it is considered one of the most "green" metals available. Stainless steel is an iron-based alloy that contains chromium, and some blends also contain nickel or other metals to modify the properties. 

The result of mixing chromium with iron is a highly corrosion-resistant alloy that is durable and can be used in many different ways. The addition of molybdenum to the alloy increases the corrosion resistance even further. It makes stainless steel a good material for environments where the material is exposed to a lot of corrosive elements. 

Grades Of Stainless Steel

When you are buying stainless steel for your project, it is essential that you get the right grade. The two most common grades of stainless are 304 and 316 stainless. These two materials are very different but start with the same iron-and-chromium base material. 

The most significant difference is that 304 does not contain any additional materials in the alloy. In contrast, 316 includes high levels of molybdenum to make it better in marine environments or for uses that will expose the material to corrosives like salt. 

Many other stainless steel grades have different properties than either 304 or 316, so talk with the metal supplier you are using to source the material if you find you need something besides these grades.

Recycling Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is considered a highly recyclable metal, and recycling centers will take it no matter what the alloy blend is. The metal can be reused and altered, so any grade or type of stainless steel is valuable for the recycler to sell to stainless steel producers. 

Adding the recycled material into the process helps the producer save valuable ore and other resources when making new stainless steel. The current recycling and recovery rate is reportedly nearly one hundred percent, more than any other metal currently in use. 

Recyclers will buy the material at a fair price, but that price can fluctuate with supply, so you may find that holding the material until the price is reasonable helps you if you are trying to sell stainless steel scrap. The scrap price is typically in the thirty to fifty cents a pound range, depending on the grade and condition, but check with the yard you are selling to because the price changes with market conditions daily.

To learn more, contact a stainless steel supplier.