Sheffield is a name famous throughout the world and synonymous with the manufacture of steel throughout the 19th century. And while the locals may suggest there is far more to Sheffield than just steel production, it is steel that not only put the English town on the map but also changed the shape of the world.
While steel has been around in one form or another for centuries it wasn’t until the processes discovered by Sheffielder Henry Bessemer in 1858 was the metal able to be mass produced in enough quantity to be the versatile material it is today.
Another huge step in the success of steel was the development of rust-free steel, now universally known as stainless steel when Harry Brearley of Brown Firth Research from Sheffield needed to find an erosion-resistant alloy for gun barrels did he stumble across the idea of adding chromium to produce what is today regarded as stainless steel.
Stainless steel literally changed the world, for the first time an alloy that tarnished less than silver and cost a fraction of the cost was implemented into everything from cars to cutlery.
Stainless steel is now found everywhere from the outside of some of the world’s tallest buildings to, satellites in space to cutlery in our kitchen draw there is literally an infinite number of uses for stainless steel.
There are many types of stainless steel but the two most common are grade 304 which is used for most applications and 316 which is used for surgical and food applications as it provides superior resistance to chemicals and an increased resistance to chloride corrosion compared to type 304.
316 stainless steel is most commonly used in the food sector because of its ability to be washed down without fear of corrosion. Even computers used in food manufacturing are often kept in stainless steel PC enclosures ensuring they can operate safely in such a wet environment.