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What Is Chrome Steel?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 17, 2024
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Chrome steel, also known as stainless steel, is steel that has been mixed with chromium. The chromium adds special protection to the steel that keeps it from rusting. Just like steel, chrome steel is an alloy, or a combination or two or more metals. Chrome steel is used for many applications, is easy to recycle and has a high scrap value.

A material, or chemical, analysis of chrome steel yields six substances: chromium, carbon, manganese, silicon, phosphorus and sulfur. The amount of each substance used differs according to the metallurgy specialist and creates a slightly different steel. Chromium is the most prevalent of the six and increases toughness, durability and hardness penetration.

Many metals are magnetic, and stainless steel is no exception. One of the primary metals used in regular steel and chrome steel alloys is iron. Iron is fully magnetic. Stainless steel is commonly composed of 96 percent iron, so this steel is also fully magnetic.

The tensile strength of stainless steel, or the strength of the metal with the greatest longitudinal stress, is 325,000 pounds per square inch (22,750 kilograms per square centimeter). This displays a high tensile strength. The yield strength, or when the metal deforms, is 295,000 PSI (20,650 kg/cm2. Both of these figures show it is a strong and durable metal.

Chrome steel is forged in an electric arc furnace. The furnace includes carbon electrodes that blast a current through steel scrap placed in the furnace. Other elements, such as nickel and nitrogen, are sometimes added. With true stainless steel, the chromium is added directly into the alloy. Imitation stainless steel uses a chrome plating, which has been shown to be less efficient than mixing the chrome in with the steel.

After being forged, there is still some processing to be done. It is annealed, or sent through a heat treatment, that softens the stainless steel so it is easier to meld and work with. It also goes through pickling, or an acid wash, that removes scaling from the forging and annealing and also gives it a shiny surface.

Stainless steel is used in a wide variety of products and tools. In the household, it is used for kitchen utensils and is also found in drawer slides. For tools, it is used to make drill bits and wrenches. It is also used in architecture, both as an aesthetic and because of its high resistance to corrosive substances such as salt and pollution.

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