As you know, steel is a metal with many different properties.
It can be malleable (the level of such depends upon the thickness and composition). While cold-rolled-steel may be easily manipulated at a thinner side of the spectrum (around 0.60″), you’ll be hard pressed to do the same to material at a quarter-inch thick.
Cold-Rolled-Steel has strength and a many uses, but it does have one major pitfall…
Without a protective coating, this stuff rusts like you would not believe!
Well, maybe you would believe it. It’s what most cars are made of, and some of those get a little questionable in the rust belt of the USA.
There is hope for the “steel family” in resistance to rust. It’s known as stainless steel.
It’s precisely what it sounds like; not that it will never rust, but it’s less prone to do so quickly and as bad as a mild steel.
This material has a few pros and cons that I’d like to go over:
- Can resist high temperatures
- Solid composition
- Good conductor of electricity
- Very clean to work with
- Used in food industry for it’s ease of cleaning, and it’s resistance to break down.
- Used in the medical field for it’s cleanliness and can be sterile
- Looks amazing when finished properly
- Welds look great (this material usually produces those “rainbow” welds we see pictures of all over Instagram.
- Good for outdoor use (or indoor use)
- Will warp when overheated (this is during welding and even grinding/finishing)
- Will gouge very easily! (trust me on this one…)
- Almost impossible to get a uniform/even finish by sanding
- When using a grinder, grind marks are sometimes difficult to remove
- Heavy/Dense Material
While it’s not a magical substance on this Earth, it certainly has a place in the hearts of metalworkers and welders in particular.
In the semi-conductor field, many of the intricate parts (the ones that require high accuracy) are made from stainless steel. The properties of it allow for a super clean work environment, which means less contaminants in the production of goods.
When you’re looking for a rigid, rust resistant, clean material to work with, but you’re not concerned about weight too much, then reach for stainless steel (304 or 316 alloy is common and perfectly fine for most applications).
However, if you’re looking to save weight, then maybe your solution is in the aluminum family? Aluminum will also resist rust, but does corrode over time.