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Well known for its versatility and sustainability, stainless steel is a commonly used material, easily recognized and present in many homes and industries. The name “stainless steel” is a broad term, applying to any metal with a minimum of 10.5% chromium content. There are many types of stainless steel, each given a numerical grade and organized under one of four general groups. These grades are based on the steel’s composition, properties, and uses. Familiarity with grade numbers and groups give quick insight into the steel’s makeup and applications.

The four general groups of stainless steel are austenitic, ferritic, duplex, and martensitic.


As the most frequently used type, austenitic stainless steels possess high chromium and nickel content. Their weldability, strength, and corrosion resistance make them a metal used both for household kitchen cutlery and structural components in the aerospace industry. Unlike ferritic types, austenitic stainless steels are not magnetic.

Types of austenitic stainless steel: 304V, 316LVM, 330, Biodur108, Nitronic 60.


An often magnetic, low nickel material with good corrosion resistance, ferritic stainless steels are a popular material for indoor applications. They are commonly chosen for their resistance to stress corrosion and cracking, particularly in situations that require contact with other corrosive materials. These uses include cookware and car components. Ferritic stainless steel’s cost effectiveness and decreased malleability differentiate them from austenitic types.

Types of ferritic stainless steel: 430, 430FR.


Named for its nearly 50/50 composition of austenitic and ferritic, this hybrid is stronger than either of its alloys of origin. This strength gives duplex stainless steels improved corrosion and cracking resistance. Additionally, due to its high ferritic content, it is magnetic. Duplex stainless steels are relatively weldable and well suited for saltwater corrosive conditions, making them useful for the underwater oil industry.

Types of duplex stainless steel: S31803, S32205.


With a structure similar to ferritic, martensitic stainless steels stand apart with their higher carbon content (1%) and greater hardening capabilities. With their high strength and average resistance to corrosion, martensitic stainless steels have a wide range of uses, ranging from surgical instruments to turbine parts.

Types of martensitic stainless steel: 15-5PH, 17-4PH, 416, 420F, 420 MOD, 455, 465.

Stainless steel is well known and frequently used due to its strength, versatility, and recyclability. The four general categories assist in beginning to outline the many compositions and uses for the material.

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For a full list of stainless steel supplied by Vincent Metals, click here.