Stainless steel is the most widely used type of steel today. It is an alloy of steel and chromium, forming a very durable and strong metal. In some places in the world, it is more popularly known as 'inox' steel, which comes from a French description 'inoxydable'. It was first used around 1600 years ago, as revealed by some well-preserved metallic artifacts.
The most well known property of steel is its high resistance to corrosion. Although steel is naturally susceptible to rusting, chromium keeps the passivity of the metal alloy. Passivation is the process by which a metal counters the formation of rust on its surface. Chromium produces a film of oxide that is responsible for protecting the entire stainless steel from corrosion.
The passive film blanketing the stainless steel also has an antibacterial effect. This protects the metal from formations of bacteria or algae on its surface that may cause health risks. Elevated concentration of these microorganisms can produce oxidation and corrode the metal surface as well. Stainless steel is also found with good aesthetic qualities that had already been taken advantage by early architecture.
The use of stainless steel is extensive because of these prominent properties. This alloy is usually milled into spring, perforated stainless steel sheets, bars, wires and plate. Some are wrought to tubes for various applications in cookware, cutlery, surgical instruments, construction of tall buildings, automotive and aerospace purposes, and more. This is commonly used even in making major appliances and industrial equipment.
Other uses of stainless steel are found in architecture, wherein this alloy can be formed into many different designs. Stainless steel extrusions keep the beauty of the stainless steel product but reduce its density and weight. Its physical lust similar to that of nickel gives it a very apparent aesthetic job. The antibacterial effect of chromium makes stainless steel the best material for storing food and beverages.
Continuous developments in metallurgy will lead to discovery of many other alloys that have definite usefulness. From simple perforated stainless steel used in sinks, to complex artificial bone structures for surgical procedures, there are more uses of stainless steel and other alloys that will soon be discovered.