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Glossary of Stainless Steel Industry Terms

This post covers a number of popular and common industry terms used in stainless steel processing.

A

Active
Steel surface has lost ability to resist corrosion under prevailing conditions.
Age Hardening
The Degeneration of steel that increases strength and decreases ductility, this follows rapid cooling or cold working.
AISI
The American Iron and Steel Institute. A trade association that represents the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Alloy Steel
A type of steel comprised of manganese, silicon, copper and other alloy type metals.
Alloy Surcharge
Selling price plus a surcharge added to offset the increasing cost of raw materials caused by increasing alloy prices.
Alloying Element
The Addition of metallic elements in production to increase hardness, strength, or corrosion resistance for instance Molybdenum, Nickle, and Chomium
Annealing
Process of heating cold metal to make bending easier and prevent breaking and cracking. Two types: Batch Box and Continuous.
Anodic Protection
Moving towards a more oxidizing potential to achieve a lower corrosion rate by promoting passivity
Argon–Oxygen Decarburisation (AOD)
A process to reduce the carbon content during refinement. Similar to EAF but a shorter operating time with lower temperatures
Austenitic Steel
A non–magnetic steel that contains nickel and chromium that lowers corrosion. A widely used category of steel.
Austenitising
The first stage during the hardening/strengthening of heat treatment.
Automatic Gauge Control
A hydraulic system that allows workers to monitor a sheets thickness at over 50mph. Gap sensors adjust the thickness 50 – 60 times per second.

B

Bars
Steel formed into long shapes from billets. Two types: Merchant and reinforcing bars.
Beam
Long pieces of square metal usually steel used in construction.
Bend Test
Tests that measure the ductility and malleability of steel when bent.
Billet
A semi–finished piece of steel used for long products. Ex Bars, channels. Two – seven inches square
Blank
A section of sheet for a specific part that has not yet been stamped by the end user. Lowers labor and transportation costs.
Blast Furnace
A tall furnace that smelts iron from ore
Bloom
A semi–finished form of steel more than eight inches. This will eventually be processed into beams, rods, bars , or tubing products.
Brittle Fracture
A fracture that has little or no plastic deformation.
Burr
A subtle ridge on the edge of steel resulting from cutting operations such as slitting, trimming, shearing, of blanking.

C

Carbon Steel
Steel composed mostly of carbon which it relies on for structure
Case Hardening
Type of hardening which makes the outside much harder than the inside
Cathodic Corrosion
Corrosion of a cathode due to hydrogen pick up
Cathodic Inhibitor
A chemical substance that prevents a cathodic or reduction reaction
Cathodic Protection
Reducing the corrosion of a metal by making the particular surface a cathode of an electrochemical cell
Cavitation
Rapid formation and depletion of air bubbles that can damage the material due to severe turbulent flow
Charge
Loading material into a furnace
Chemical Treatment
Chemicals applied to the surface of steel to resist oxidation and corrosion
Chloride Stress Corrosion Cracking
Cracking due to tensile stress and corrosion by water and chlorides
Chromium
An element used in stainless steel to reduce corrosion
Cladding
The application of stainless steel coating to increase corrosion resistance at a lower cost
Coils
Rolled steel to simplify transportation and storage
Coke
Processed coal used as fuel in blast furnaces. This is very dense and will not collapse from iron ore weight
Coke Oven Battery
Ovens that produce coal into coke. Usually the dirtiest part of the mill due to fumes and exhaust
Cold Reduction
Process of rolling cold coils through a press to make steel stronger, thinner, and smoother
Cold Working
Changing the structure and shape of steel by rolling, hammering, or stretching at room temperature to increase strength
Cold–Finished Steel bars
Hot rolled bars with high surface quality due to secondary cold–reduction
Cold–Rolled Strip
Pickled sheet steel that has been through a cold–reduction mill. This is more expensive and stronger than hot–rolled
Consumption
The physical use of steel by end users. This can help predict future inventories
Corrosion
Natural Degradation of steel due to atmospheric conditions and other factors
Corrosion Fatigue
Cracking due to repeated stress in a corrosive environment
Corrosion Rate
Rate at which an object corrodes
Corrosion Resistance
The ability to resist corrosion in a given environment
Creep
Strain caused by stress over time
Crevice Corrosion
Corrosion of a surface that is fully shielded but still corrodes because it is so close to the surface of another metal
Critical Pitting Potential
The lowest value of oxidizing potential at which pits can form and grow
Cut–to–Length
Cutting flat–rolled steel into a desired length then shipped flat–stacked

D

Deburring
Removing the subtle ridge from the edge of metal resulting from a cutting operation
Drawn–Over–Mandrel
Drill Pipe
Ductility
The ability to form, shape, or alter the state of steel at room temperature without being damaged
Duplex
Steel that contains high amounts of Chromium and Nickel. Highly resistant to corrosion and cracking.

E

Embrittlement
The loss of malleability due to a chemical treatment or physical change
Environmental Cracking
Cracking and corroding of a normally ductile material due to environmental conditions
Erosion
Continuous depletion of a material due to an interaction with a liquid, fluid, or solid particles carried with the fluid
Erosion–Corrosion
Extrusion
Shaped metal formed by forcing the bloom, bar, or rod through a die of the appropriate shape

F

Fabricator
An intermediate product producer that purchases materials and processes them specifically for a particular project
Fatigue
A condition that leads to a fracture of material due to constant or repeated stress that exert less pressure than the tensile strength of the material
Ferrochrome
A common material used in the production of stainless steel
Ferrous
Metal that is primarily made of iron
Finish
Final condition of the surface after production
Flat–Rolled Steel
A category of steel that includes sheet, strip, and tin plate
Flux
Iron cleaning agent consisting of limestone and lime
Foil
Metal that has a maximum width of .005 inches
Forging
Forming metal into a fixed shape by hammering, pressing, or rolling
Fretting Corrosion
Deterioration at the interface of two contacting surfaces

G

Galvanic Corrosion
Accelerated form of corrosion due to an electrical contact with a more noble metal
Galvanised Steel
Steel that is coated with a thin layer of zinc for protection
Gauge
Thickness of steel
Gross Ton
2,240 pounds

H

Heat
A batch of refined steel
Heat Treatment
Altering the properties of steel by temperature changes
Heat–Affected Zone
The part of the metal that is not melted during cutting, brazing, or welding
High Temperature Hydrogen Attack
Loss of strength and malleability due to high temperature reactions of hydrogen in the steel
High–Carbon Steel
Steel that contains at least .3%
High–Strength/Low Alloy Steel
Steel that contains less than 5% strengthening alloys
Hollow Structural Sections
High strength, cold–formed tubing. Possesses a high strength–to–weight ratio
Hot Band
Steel that has been rolled on a hot–strip mill.
Hydroforming
A tube is placed in a forming die which is then shaped into the mold due to internal water pressure
Hydrogen Embrittlement
Absorption of hydrogen by a metal resulting in a loss of ductility
Hydrogen Stress Cracking
Cracking due to hydrogen and tensile stress
Hydrogen–Induced Cracking
Internal cracks that connect adjacent hydrogen blisters on different planes in the metal

I

Ingot
Steel that has been poured into molds and then solidified
Intergranular Corrosion
Corrosion at or along the grain boundaries of a metal
Intergranular Stress Corrosion Cracking
Stress cracking that occurs along the grain boundaries
Iron Ore
A mineral that contains enough iron to be used in steel production
Iron–Based Supperalloys

J

K

L

Levelling Line
A machine that eliminates any physical deficiencies in the sheet before shipping
Light–Gauge Steel
A thing sheet of steel that has been temper rolled or passed through a cold reduction mill. Usually plated with chrome or tin
Line Pipe
A pipe that extends over a long distance. Transports oil, gas, and other fluids
Long (net) Ton
2,240 pounds
Long Products
Steel that includes rods, bars, and structural products. Described as long rather than flat
Low–Carbon Steel
Steel containing less than .3% carbon. Is ductile for use in autoparts

M

Marking
Used to identify each unique piece
Martensite
A hard supersaturated solid solution of iron characterized by an acicular microstructure
Martensitic
A category of magnetic steels
Mechanical Properties
Physical properties of a material concerning the elasticity when force is applied
Mesh
Semi–permeable barrier of connected strands of steel
Metal Dusting
Breakdown of metal due to exposure to carbonaceous gasses at higher temperatures
Metric Ton
1,000 Kilograms
Mini–Mills
Mills that melt scrap metal into commodity products

N

Nickle
An alloying element used in stainless steel to enhance ductility and corrosion resistance
Nickle–Based Superalloys
Metal produced for high–performance and high–temperature applications
Non–Ferrous Metal
Metal containing no iron

O

Ore
An iron–containing material used primarily in the blast furnace
Oscillation
A method of winding a narrow strip of steel over a wider roll allowing more steel per roll and longer processing runs
Oxidation
Rust or corrosion due to exposure to oxygen

P

Passivation
a reduction of the anodic reaction rate of an electrode involved in corrosion
Passive
A state of metal in which a reaction product causes a marked corrosion rate in the absence of the product
Pickling
Process where steel coils are cleaned using hydrochloric baths to remove impurities such as rust, dirt, and oil
Piling
A structural steel product with interlocking edges generally used in riverbank reinforcement
Pipe
Used to transport fluids or gases. The term pipe and tube are used interchangeably
Pitting
Corrosion on the surface of a metal that is confined to a small area
Pitting factor
The depth of the deepest pit from corrosion divided by the average penetration from mass loss
Plate
A sheet of steel more than eight inches wide with a thickness ranging from a quarter inch to more than a foot
Postweld heat treatment
Heating and cooling a weldment to obtain a desired property
Powder Metals
A fabricating technique where fine metallic powder is compacted and heated under high pressure to solidify the material
Precipitation Hardening (PH)
A category of steels resembling martensitic steels that are strong due to heat treatment
Pretreated
Steel that is chemically treated on the surface to prevent corrosion prior to future alterations

Q

Quarto plate
Steel plates produced from a slab rolled to a specific length, width, and thickness.
Quenching
A heat treatment used to harden steel. Heated until in a austenitic state then cooled using air, oil, water, brine, etc.

R

Reducing Agent
The addition of natural gas or coal to remove oxygen from iron ore producing a scrap substitute.
Reinforcing Bar (Rebar)
Steel used to reinforce concrete
Residuals
Impurities from mini–mill steels resulting from the wide variety of metals used in the process
Rod
Semi–finished steel rolled from a billet that is commonly used for wire products, bolts, and nails

S

Scale
Rust that forms on steel after being heated
Scrap
Material that is normally remelted and recasted into new steel
Seamless Pipe
Pipe produced from a solid billet that is heated and rotated under pressure
Secondary Steel
Rejected steel from a primary customer due to a defect. Mills then search for other customers that will purchase steel at a discount
Semi–fabricated Steel
Semi–processed metals such as sheets, bars, and rods
Semi–finished Steel
Steel products such as blooms, billets, or slabs that are turned into beams, bars, or sheets
Service Center
A company that buys metal, stores it, then sells it in some other form then when it was purchased
Shape Correcting
Reshaping of processed steel to meet customers’ needs
Shearing
Trimming sheet and strip metal making the edges parallel
Sheet Steel
Steel that is flat, thin, and rolled into a coil
Short (net) Ton
2,000 pounds
Shot Blasting
Blast cleaning using steel shot as an abrasive
Shot peening
Stressing the surface of a material by hitting it with a selected medium
Slab
Semi–finished steel measuring around 10 inches thick by 30 – 85 inches wide and 20 feet long
Slag
Impurities in a molten pool of iron. Lighter than iron and will float
Slitting
Cutting steel into smaller strips to meet demands
Solution heat treatment
Heating metal to a high temperature long enough for constituents to enter the solid solution. It is then cooled to keep constituents inside
Solvent cleaning
Removal of contaminants in material with a solvent
Specialty Alloys
Metals with distinct chemical and physical properties
Specialty Steel
Steel that includes electric, alloy, stainless, and tool
Specialty Tube
High quality, specialized tube products. Found in automotice and agricultural industries, construction, and hydraulic cylinders
Stainless Steel
Corrosion resistant steel that maintains strength at high temperatures
Strain
The amount of force in a metal at a given level of stress
Strength
The ability of metal to resist forces that attempt to break or deform it
Stress Corrosion Cracking
Cracks in the steel that develop slowely due to mechanical stress and exposure to corrosive environments
Stress Relieving
The process of slowly heating and cooling steel to minimize development of residual stress
Strip
A thin, flat piece of steel that is narrower than sheet steel. It may be cut with a slitting machine
Structurals
Steel products that include H–beams, I–beams, and wide–flange beams that are used in building, bridges, and highway supports
Sulfide Stress Cracking
Cracking in a metal due to tensile stress and corrosion in the presence of water and hydrogen sulfide
Superalloys
Lightweight metals that are designed to withstand in extreme conditions

T

Tailored Blanks
A section of steel cut to the manufacturer’s desire
Titanium
A ductile and malleable white metal that is used in aviation and aerospace because of its high strength
Ton “
Unit of measure for steel scraps and iron ore
Tool Steels
Steels that are used in the manufacturing of tools and dies
Tungsten
Gray metal with high tensile strength

U

V

Vacuum Oxygen Decarburisation
Vanadium

W

Welding
The attachment of two or more metals together.
Width
Lateral dimension of rolled steel as opposed to the length or gauge
Wire
Long and thin steel produced round, square, octogonal and hexigonal sections

X

Y

Yield Strength
The stress a material exhibits from the proportionality of stress to strain

Z

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Glossary of Stainless Steel Industry Terms