What Is the Composition of Stainless Steel?

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Stainless steel is available in many different alloys that incorporate several different elements, but the essential components are iron, carbon and chromium. Low-carbon steel with at least 12-percent chromium forms an even layer of protective oxide on its surface and is, therefore, stainless.

In addition to the basic elements of stainless steel, various alloys can be made with nickel, niobium, molybdenum and titanium. Each of these elements adds some valuable property to the finished piece. Titanium, for example, adds considerable strength to the finished product without adding unnecessary weight. Nickel and niobium are useful adjuncts to the chromium in resisting corrosion, especially in low-oxygen environments.