Stainless steel : the modern material par excellence

The development of stainless steel has greatly influenced our lives. Many people are not even aware of it. Reason enough for us to write an article about this important development. Our technological, scientific and civilizing progress and developments build on each other and always go hand in hand with certain milestones. The development of stainless steel is certainly one of these milestones. Before these steels, which are particularly resistant to corrosion, could be produced for the first time, the ability to process the metal itself had to be developed. A long road with many milestones.

A milestone in the literal sense of the word

The development and use of the first tools gave us a multitude of new possibilities. Man suddenly had a tool with which he could cut fur and thus make better clothes. Not only modernized in fashion, but above all better equipped and in connection with new and more efficient weapons, we could better assert ourselves in front of the animals who saw in us a delicious meal and at the same time we got more and better food. Thanks to a better supply of food, our chances of survival and our free time to discover and invent new things increased.

The Discovery of Metals: The Age of Copper

It is quite astonishing that such epochal discoveries are made relatively quickly and independently of each other by different people in different parts of the world. Of course, we understand contemporaneity in everyday life to mean something different than in the sense of development history. Filling out one’s tax return on time does not mean that one has to do it in the next millennium, so much the better. But when it comes to the beginnings of human history, a few millennia of back and forth is a piece of cake.

We don’t know how it happened. Maybe people found something strange in the remains of their campfire and, for some unknown reason, had the idea of banging on it with a stone. We do not know for sure if the first metal discovered was gold, silver or copper. We do know, however, that it was these purely natural metals that were turned into jewelry and tools by man probably about 10,000 years ago.

The Bronze Age : harder than copper

A few millennia later, inventive people came up with the idea of mixing copper and other metals. Copper and about 10% tin produced an alloy that was considerably harder than copper. The demand for tools, weapons and other objects made from the new miracle material grew rapidly and the supply increased with the demand.

In the meantime, it had been learned that the metal could be found and mined safely in some places and that the processing procedures had been sufficiently studied. Since metals are not found everywhere and mining is not so easy, a differentiated division of labor developed and trade routes were established. The Bronze Age not only produced new, more stable tools, but also changed society significantly.

The Iron Age : Stainless Steel Porch

In principle, man knew how to obtain metals and some people had been extracting iron from meteorites for some time. The Egyptians called it “iron from the sky” and processed it mainly for religious purposes. No wonder iron fell from the sky, but it was rare and a shame to turn it into despicable tools. This is why people today only talk about the Iron Age, when man learned that he did not have to wait for the expensive material to fall on his feet or on his head.

The first time that iron, extracted from ore and reliably extractable, appeared on the market and could be processed, the time we now call the Iron Age came. With the knowledge already gained about alloys and metal processing, it is not surprising that wrought iron with exactly the right amount of carbon was soon available.

In other words, we have beautiful forgeable steel. Of course, one could do sensational things with steel. Stable armor and weapons were particularly popular and in high demand. Over the centuries, steel objects became more and more natural (nails, screws, tools, vehicles, lamps and much more were made of steel).

Steel : improved resistance

Steel rusting. Especially, increasing industrialization and the emergence of the chemical industry have created the need for more steel and soon a more corrosion resistant steel than the previously used material called stainless steel.

At the end of the first decade of the 20th century, metallurgists in different countries found solutions independently. Experiments with chromium and nickel as alloying elements finally resulted in a particularly chemically pure steel that was much less prone to corrosion and also had improved strength.

Today there is a whole range of different stainless steels for various applications. There are special steels for vehicle construction, kitchen equipment, plant construction, the chemical industry, etc. In everyday life, we are familiar with two types of stainless steel in particular.

A2 stainless steel is the most frequently produced steel, with more than 30 of them. The steel is largely resistant to normal weather conditions and is therefore perfectly suitable for outdoor use indoors. In your patio you will most likely find screws made of A2 stainless steel.

A4 stainless steel is a chrome-nickel steel with added molybdenum and is stronger than the more frequently used A2 stainless steel. The steel is still resistant to environmental influences even if moisture and salt meet or if the steel comes into contact with chlorinated water. Therefore, in your pool you will most likely find A4 stainless steel screws.

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