Stainless steel scrap metal in a pile

How to Identify Types of Stainless Steel

Metals are used in homes, factories, vehicles, and plenty of appliances and equipment. They offer strength and stability and are great when you need a material that will last. Metal is also a key resource in many industries, from manufacturing to architecture to medical environments. But metals vary a great deal. Stainless steel, for example, comes in different varieties. Sgt. Scrap provides metal recycling services for people in New Jersey, Delaware, and parts of Pennsylvania and New York. Here, we discuss types of stainless steel to help you understand what distinguishes them.

What Is Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel is an alloy steel that contains chromium and low carbon content. This composition allows it to resist corrosion and heat, which are particularly important characteristics for a variety of its uses. The result is a clean, sleek, and shiny metal that offers a beautiful look. It is also quite easy to clean, which helps in food service and medical applications.

Stainless steel is a ferrous metal, meaning it contains some percentage of iron. Depending on the iron content, metal may have magnetic properties, making it easy to tell stainless steel from silver, lead, and aluminum. Because stainless steel is recyclable, this sustainable metal shouldn’t simply be thrown away and go to waste in a landfill. Scrap yards can collect your stainless steel and help ensure that it’s recycled properly.

Understanding the Different Varieties

There are more than 100 grades of stainless steel. These grades can be classified into one of five different groups:

Austenitic Stainless Steel

The most common type, austenitic stainless steel contains 16% to 26% chromium and up to 35% nickel. It can also contain nitrogen and molybdenum. This malleable metal is often found in kitchenware and is highly corrosion-resistant and non-magnetic.

Ferritic Stainless Steel

Composed of a low carbon percentage and free of nickel, ferritic stainless steels don’t harden through heat treatment. They are generally used in applications where high corrosion resistance isn’t necessary, such as architecture.

Duplex Stainless Steel

A combination of austenitic and ferritic stainless steels, duplex varieties feature high chromium content, as well as nickel, copper, and molybdenum. These metals are known for their strength, which is why they can be found in chemical processing and transport applications.

Martensitic Stainless Steel

These metals have a high carbon percentage, allowing for antirust properties and durability. This makes them great for use in water pumps and valves.

Precision-Hardening Stainless Steel

Combining copper, niobium, and aluminum, this variety is like standard austenitic stainless steel, offering strength and high corrosion resistance.

Identifying Your Stainless Steels

These five main groups can be further broken down into different AISI types (AISI is a four-digit code that identifies the amount of alloying element and the amount of carbon in a metal.) There are different ways to help narrow down each type, including a spark test. Spark tests involve grinding an unknown metal to view the sparks created. The color, length, and forking of the sparks help professionals identify the steel.

Another common test is the Brinell Hardness test. This test involves the use of a 10 mm ball-shaped indenter with applied force, offering a Brinell hardness number (BHN) that represents the calculated load divided by the surface area of the partial spherical impression left in the metal. One can also use a magnet to determine if they are dealing with austenitic stainless steel.

Sgt. Scrap accepts the following stainless-steel scrap:

  • Stainless Steel – 304: Also called A2 stainless steel, this austenitic stainless steel can be found in piping and household appliances. Orange sparks will shoot out when hit with a grinder.
  • Stainless Steel – 316: This austenitic stainless steel is often found in medical devices, chemical storage, and food processing tools. Very small red sparks will shoot out when hit with a grinder.
  • 410 Stainless Steel: A ferritic metal that is less expensive and commonly used for vehicle parts, nozzles, and valves. Highly magnetic.
  • Dirty Stainless Steel: Any of the following aforementioned stainless steel but has large amounts of debris, contaminants or other metals.

We also take dirty stainless steel or steel that features attached components made of other materials. An example is a kitchen utensil with stainless steel construction and a plastic or silicone handle. The non-recyclable pieces will need to be removed before smelting.

Find Stainless-Steel Scrap Value with Sgt. Scrap

Stainless steel recycling is critical to manufacturing and a wide variety of industries. If you have unwanted stainless steel, let the team at Sgt. Scrap take it off your hands. We help unused metals get to facilities that will reuse them, preventing them from sitting in a landfill and creating needless waste. We also offer fair pricing, giving you peace of mind when selling scrap metal.

If you have at least 5,000 pounds of stainless steel, schedule a roll-off dumpster and let us deliver one to your address, or you can drop off any amount of stainless steel at either of our scrap yards in Haddon Township and Pennsauken Township, NJ. Contact us today if you have any questions or want to learn more about our scrap metal services in New Jersey, Delaware, and parts of Pennsylvania and New York.

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