Stainless steel is a popular choice for metal products across industries due, in part, to its incredible degree of tensile strength, but at Cutters it’s known for its usefulness in the fabrication of food-grade kitchen equipment. Stainless is the number once choice for the creation of sanitary tools, carts, tables, shelving, and various work space surfaces in major people-focused industries. Medical and commercial food companies in particular rely on it because it is more durable, more affordable, and easier to sanitize than metals of comparable strength.
Here are four things that everyone should understand about stainless steel and its usefulness in the fabrication of safe, sanitary metal equipment and tools.
1. The term “stainless steel” refers to a collection of different alloys, all containing chromium
Stainless steel is "stainless" because it's resistant to corrosion. Why? Because all metal classified as stainless steel contains chromium. Depending on the type of stainless steel, the metal can contain anywhere from 10.5 to 30 percent chromium. The higher the chromium content of the steel, the higher the level of corrosion resistance the metal has.
2. Chromium makes stainless steel resistant to corrosion because it chemically reacts to produce a very thin oxide layer on the surface of the metal
This oxidation protects against corrosion and prevents the formation of pits on the metal’s surface. When pitting forms on the surface of traditional steel, it gives bacteria a place to become trapped and grow unchecked. These pits make the surface all but impossible to completely sanitize. Because the oxidized layer of stainless steel prevents pitting, it is easy to clean and thoroughly disinfect, making stainless ideal for food prep areas and hospital operating rooms alike.
3. The film of oxidation on stainless steel also has the added benefit of making its surface non-reactive
This property makes it ideal for use in creating tools like cooking utensils—cooking tools made of iron or aluminum can chemically react with acid-heavy dishes and spoil the taste of the food. Protection against chemical reaction is even more important in medical settings; medical care professionals like surgeons need tools made from non-reactive metals that they can trust won’t cause harm to a patient during invasive surgeries.
4. The most common stainless steel alloys used in medical and food-grade equipment is 304
In fact, it’s the most commonly used stainless steel overall thanks to its high resistance to corrosion, its low carbon content, and its affordability. In restaurants, it helps chefs and cooking staff prevent diners from ingesting corrosive materials and yields strong equipment that can withstand the rough use standard of commercial kitchen environments. In the medical field, it is valued for its ability to prevent infection caused by rust, its ability to resist high heat, its antibacterial properties, and the fact that its resistance to magnets.