Stainless Steel and Its Machinability


“Metallurgy has gone very innovative in metal engineering to make stainless steel a more machining friendly material.”

Stainless steels have been claimed by a lot of metal workers that are hard to machine. Most stainless steels are made out of austenitic grades like 303. Austenitic grades are prone to difficulties in maintaining a good surface finish.

The addition of sulfur to steels is great contribution to achieving ease in machinability. Sulfur found in stainless steels proves to help break stainless steel chips during the machining process.

Sulfur advantages to stainless steel machinability:

  • reduces friction and extends tool life
  • forms a lubricating layer on top of cutting tool
  • helps break stainless steel chip during machining

Such formula of adding sulfur to stainless steel has even expanded throughout the metalworking industry that gives sudden rise to free machining steel grades such as 303, 416, and 420F.

However, as sulfur helps stainless steel with its machining ability, it also affects its good attributes. It comprises the corrosion resistance of the metal. It begins as the metal is welded and tends to be a crack initiation. But that not really is a big issue in the metalworking industry. Innovative ways had been implemented to enhance the machinability of stainless steels.

In much easier sense, metallurgist come up with different ways to come up with much better machined and finished stainless steels. Engineering formulas are done and so they thought, the implementation of conventional cutting speeds and feeds would perform really good at high speed in high temperature cutting conditions. Aside from the formulation of cutting speeds and addition of sulfur, taking a proper control of other alloying elements including nickel, nitrogen, and carbon contributes to the improvements of steel machinability characteristics.

Below are two of the best key points for the enhancement of stainless steel production and machinability:

  • Maximize
    Sulfur levels should be maximized. Though there must have been findings that sulfur still put limitations to stainless steel machining. A lot of ways are innovated for reformulation of stainless steel without sacrificing its good mechanical and physical properties.
  • Be consistent
    Consistency is a prime factor in the metalworking industry and an important attribute in machining. Metal workers have been developing methods to bring out the best steel products with such consistency and fine finish. Metal workers allow a variation for customers to choose from.

Metallurgy has never stopped finding ways to come in progress with stainless steel machinability – all for much better production that meet customers’ rigid demands. Moreover, different machining methods are proposed such as the cutting speeds and temperature adjustment. With perfect implementation, no matter how hard a material is to machine, fine results will still be achieved!

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