When it comes to machining, several materials are more difficult than others are. Brass and nitronic create problems. Stainless machining – the machining of stainless steel, also provides machinists with challenges. However, machine shops can reduce issues by choosing the right stainless steel.
Stainless steels are not a homogeneous group. In fact, approximately 150 different and distinct compositions of this material exist. The specific formulation of each one is to address specific manufacturing requirements. Knowing the differences between diverse grades ensures the selection of the correct material for the application.
The Selection Process for Stainless Machining
In order to choose the right stainless steel, it is important to evaluate what is available according to certain criteria. A machinist must consider the steels in terms of the following:
* Corrosion resistance: The major reason for using stainless steel
* Heat resistance: Another significant reason for choosing stainless steel
* Mechanical properties: Look at its strength in regards to the environmental temperature. How does the steel fare under room, low or elevated temperatures?
* Fabrication methods: If the steel requires more than machining, look how such things as welding and forming may affect it
* Cost: Do a cost analysis taking into consideration material and production, but also include maintenance, replacement, and related expenditures to arrive at a total cost for the stainless steel
The result of compiling such information will help a machinist and/or customers understand what type of stainless steel to use. It will allow him/her to identify the type most capable of addressing the exacting specifications of the customer while improving the machining process.
The early applications of stainless steel were few. Fabricators used the material for such items as cutlery and gun barrels. However, over time, research and technology produced specific stainless steels to include a wider range of products. Today, stainless machining utilizes many types to produce products capable of withstanding many elemental forces. A favorite machinable type is Type 303.