What Is Austenitic Stainless Steel?

The size of the worldwide stainless steel market was estimated at $111.4 billion in 2019. Stainless steel is a tough and versatile material that is used in numerous different industries and applications.

There are several different types of stainless steel, each with their own composition, strengths and weaknesses. One of those types of stainless steel is austenitic stainless steel.

This article will cover some top FAQs like, “What is austenitic stainless steel used for?” and some of the different varieties of stainless steel.

What is austenitic stainless steel?

Austenitic stainless steel is a type of stainless steel that contains carbon, iron, nickel, chromium and other minor alloys. It has a face-centered cubic (FCC) structure and can stand up remarkably well to extreme heat. Unlike some other types of stainless steel, austenitic stainless steel is virtually nonmagnetic. Austenitic stainless steel is the most used type of stainless steel.

What are some of the characteristics of austenitic stainless steel?

There are several reasons why austenitic stainless steel is the most popular type of stainless steel. As we mentioned above, it’s resistant to extreme heat; it’s also resistant to corrosion and is strong, weldable, easy to form and readily available. Austenitic stainless steel can also stand up to seismic, impact and blast forces and offers a wide selection of aesthetic finishes.

What are some of austenitic stainless steel’s applications?

The above characteristics lend austenitic stainless steel to a vast array of applications. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of what austenitic stainless steel is used for:

  • Medical: Austenitic stainless steel can be used for certain medical tools like hypodermic needles, needle caps, staple gun components and surgical anvils.
  • Petrochemical: Downhole rigging equipment, pump and valve components and chemical processing equipment are a few ways austenitic stainless steel can be used in the petrochemical industry.
  • Aerospace: Because austenitic stainless steel is strong, weldable and resistant to heat and corrosion, it’s used in the aerospace industry. Some common applications are for landing gear, military purposes, helicopter components and jet engine parts.
  • Automotive: Austenitic stainless steel is formable, which means that its shape can be changed without it breaking. This, along with its versatility, makes austenitic stainless steel ideal for automotive applications like parts, fuel rails, exhaust systems, orifices, luggage racks and internal components for superchargers.
  • Food processing and preparation: Austenitic stainless steel resists heat and corrosion, is sanitary when preparing food and doesn’t add any type of taste to any foodstuff it touches. This makes it optimal for food storage, processing and preparation. It’s used in kitchen cutlery and utensils, brewing equipment, milk tankers, food containers, pipework, splash backs, housing and equipment enclosures.

What are some other types of stainless steel?

The other three types of stainless steel are ferritic, martensitic and duplex. Ferritic is cheaper, more magnetic and more rigid than austenitic stainless steel. Duplex is a 50/50 hybrid of ferritic and austenitic, and martensitic has a higher carbon content and is harder than austenitic stainless steel.

Call for your metallurgical needs today

Now that you know what austenitic steel is used for and some of the different types of stainless steel, give us a call at J.F. Heat Treating Inc. Our technicians can handle all of your heat treating metallurgical needs, ranging from aging to quenching, tempering and everything in between.

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