Stainless Steel


Harry Brearley
W.H. Hatfield

Stainless steel is strong and has high heat resistance, just like ordinary steel. It resists corrosion, it’s formable and weldable and, unlike regular steel, does not rust.

Image result for stainless steel

It lowered the cost of everyday items. For example, rather than silver, tableware could be made from stainless steel. Stainless steel also lowered the cost of maintenance for steel items by eliminating problems due to rust.

Harry Brearley is the inventor of stainless steel. He was born into a family of modest means. He worked hard, schooled himself, and learned metal science.

Brearley, working as an employee, discovered the core principles that led to “rustless steel,” later termed stainless steel. He left Brown Firth, his employer, over a patent dispute.

After leaving Brown, Brearley set out to create his own firm selling his new “rustless steel.” Manufacturers didn’t know what to make of it and one of them did not want the word rust tied to any of their products. He suggested naming the product “stainless steel” instead. Despite the enormous benefits of stainless steel, the knives manufactured from Brearley’s steel never did gain widespread popularity.

William Hatfield replaced Brearley and later invented the modern “18/8” stainless in use today. The name refers to the makeup of the metal: 18% chromium and 8% nickel.

Throughout time an increasing number of uses have been found for stainless steel. Early on, it was used for tableware and surgical instruments. Today it’s used for everything from tiny medical instruments to enormous sculptures.

Quoting the PBS special “The Streamliners”:

“The surface of stainless steel resists oxidation at high temperatures, making the sterilization of medical instruments possible. Its light weight and durability allowed the development of streamlining in transportation. The streamlined design of new trains, planes, and automobiles allowed for less wind resistance, and trains such as the Zephyr helped spark a new design movement. Everything from toasters to vacuum cleaners emulated the new vehicles. Stainless steel paved the way for modern technology and continues to influence our lives every day.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *