Stainless Wire Alloy Selection Impacts Finished Wire Performance

To many people outside of the stainless steel wire industry, all stainless steel can appear to be the same. Except for an occasional reference to 18-8 stainless on the bottom of your pots and pans, general applications for stainless steel refer to it as simply, well, stainless steel. Inside of our industry, and among the many, many applications Central Wire Industries supports through their wire drawing and wire processing, the particular alloy, or stainless steel grade specified, will have a large impact on the overall performance of your finished product.

There are three main factors involved in the selection of a stainless steel alloy for your application: corrosion resistance, tensile strength, and processing cost. These criteria, and the related alloy selection, will have an out-sized influence on the performance of your product, the longevity in the field, and marketability to your customers.

Corrosion resistance speaks the stainless steel alloy’s ability to resisted the effects of environment and not begin oxidizing. When it comes to corrosion, it’s important to note that we’re dealing with stainless steel, not stain-proof steel, so you can expect some level of corrosion with the effects of time and temperate. But certain elements are added to the basic carbon steel at the root of all alloys to protect against this process.

When specifying the required grade of stainless steel, review the environment your product will be working in. Is it in extreme temperatures? Acid or “sour” environments? Unusually damp or humid locations? These condition influence corrosion, and your selection of material should include higher levels of corrosion inhibitors, such as nickel or molybdenum, to counteract those effects.

Strength is another factor to consider when selecting the optimum grade for your applications. The base material in all stainless steel alloys is steel, and a higher level of steel generally means a higher tensile strength product. As you add other elements to create corrosion resistance or other needed attributes, you can reduce the strength of the resulting wire, the trade off present in every iteration of stainless steel vs. carbon steel. So, be sure to measure your needed attributes (corrosion resistance, temperature resistance, etc.) again your need for strength when reviewing your potential stainless steel wire solutions.

Finally, your alloy selection will contribute to the processing costs of the finished wire, affecting the marketability of your product. Different alloys have different rates at which they work harden, which in turn affects how often a product must be annealed and re-drawn to meet your finished size requirements. Higher levels of carbon steel or other high strength metallic elements can significantly reduce the speed a material can be drawn, compared to other, softer materials. Pay attention to the trade-off between how a stainless steel alloy will perform in your application, and the cost it will require to meet your overall size and performance requirements. The “perfect” solution may not be the one that meets all the needs of your customers.

That’s where the experts at Central Wire Industries can help in your applications. With decades of experience in the wire industry that we can draw on, finding the right stainless steel alloy for your needs is as easy as contacting a sales representative today. You can also take a moment to review our stainless steel alloys and learn more about the range of grades we can offer in any number of sizes, packages, and finishes. With a global footprint and a world of experience, you can count on Central Wire Industries to help you specify the Stainless steel wire your need.

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