Stainless Steel Alloys

In 1913, Harry Brearley of Sheffield, UK discovered ‘rustless’ steel. Although there had been many prior attempts, Brearley has been credited with inventing the first true stainless steel, which had a 12.8% chromium content. He had added chromium to molten iron to produce a metal that did not rust. Chromium is a key ingredient, as it provides the resistance to corrosion. After this discovery, Sheffield itself became synonymous with steel and metallurgy.

Brearley stumbled upon this discovery while trying to solve the problem of erosion of the internal surfaces of gun barrels for the British army during the onset of the First World War.

After the initial discovery, further improvements to stainless steel occurred at a fairly rapid pace. In 1919, Elwood Haynes obtained a patent on martensitic stainless steel, in 1929 William J. Kroll of Luxembourg was the first to discover precipitation-hardening stainless steel, and in 1930 duplex stainless steel was first produced in Sweden at the Avesta Ironworks.

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