Stainless steel is a steel alloy that contains a minimum of 10.5 percent Chromium. It is this additive that produces an extremely thin layer of oxide on the surface; this layer is known as the “passive layer.” The passive layer is that which prevents corrosion. There are many grades of stainless steel; the steels with a higher percentage of Chromium give better corrosion resistance.
- The uses of stainless steel:
The two most common grades of stainless steel are type 304 and 316. Type 316 which is used for stainless steel washers is ideal for use in marine environments, for surgical instruments, food processing equipment and in nuclear reprocessing facilities.
Other than for those uses noted, stainless steel is also used by the automotive industry, chemical processing, and oil and gas industry. Type 316 is the most common for fasteners; bolts, nuts and stainless steel washers are produced from this grade as is springs and wire.
- Type 316 stainless steel:
Type 304 stainless steel is by far the most used stainless steel, the next most popular is type 316. It has superior anti-corrosion properties and is easy to clean and keep clean. As the material has added Molybdenum, it is also resistant to chlorine. This grade of stainless is used extensively in equipment used with and around chlorinated water such as found in water treatment plants as well as many marine applications. It is in these types of harsh environments where equipment manufacturers and contractors specify the use of stainless steel washers made from type 316 material.
Like all flat washers, a stainless steel washer is little more than a flat disc with a centrally located hole. Although stainless steel washers are used in difficult environments, their task is no different than any flat washer; they provide a bearing surface for the bolt head or nut and they distribute the load over a larger area.
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