Advanced Materials & Processes

FEB 2015

Covers developments in engineering materials selection, processing, fabrication, testing/characterization, materials engineering trends, and emerging technologies, industrial and consumer applications, as well as business and management trends

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B efore World War I began, a small amount of stainless steel cutlery and tableware was produced in Sheffield, England. Meanwhile in the U.S., the first heat of stainless steel was melted at the Pittsburgh plant of the Firth-Sterling Steel Co., a subsidiary of Thomas Firth and Sons, headquartered in Sheffield. However, the decade from 1910-1920 saw little progress in stain- less steel production mainly because throughout World War I, all available metal was used to make exhaust valves for aircraft engines in both the U.S. and England. During the war, one of the ma- jor stainless producers was Carpenter Steel Co., a manufacturer of steel for Liberty aircraft engines. Most production processes of this era used the heat-treatable martensitic grade—13% chromium and 0.30% car- bon. These general martensitic grades were covered in the U.S. by patent appli- cations in March 1915 from both Elwood Haynes and Harry Brearley. Rather than fight the conflict in court, Brearley and Thomas Firth and Sons formed a syn- dicate named The Stainless Steel Co. to hold all patents. Haynes agreed to a 30% share in the company and Brearley and Firth held 40%. Several other U.S. companies held the remaining 30%. This solved the problem for ferritic and martensitic grades of stainless, although Krupp—in Germany—held patent rights for the austenitic grades. Early applications Throughout the majority of the 1920s, only ferritic and martensitic stainless steels were made in the U.S. This was extremely limiting because during the next few years, the austenit- ic grades were required for major stain- less steel applications. The commercial dilemma was corrected when patents were exchanged between England and Germany in 1923, with a royalty paid in 1928 to import or produce austenitic grades in the U.S. After the war ended, initial uses for stainless steel again involved cutlery and tableware. By 1923, this had expanded to surgical and dental instruments and then to containers for nitric acid. New applications throughout the decade in- cluded milk handling equipment, surgi- cal implants, cookware, golf clubs, and automotive trim. Perhaps the most spec- tacular was the curtain wall for the upper seven stories of the brand new Chrysler Building in New York, including the huge gargoyles that serve as its architectural trademark. This building used 48 tons of austenitic stainless steel, from a total of 53,000 tons produced in 1929. The in- dustry was just getting started with these new austenitic stainless offerings, with steel companies like Allegheny, Ludlum, Carpenter, Crucible, Lukens, Latrobe, and others as the major pioneers and producers. Meanwhile, in England, W.H. Hat- field had modified the German austenitic alloy containing 20% chromium plus 7% nickel to the now familiar 18% chromium plus 8% nickel (18-8) that became AISI 302 in the U.S. He also added titanium to combine with the carbon for AISI 321, greatly improving weldability. 18-8 went on to become the single most important alloy in stainless steel because it offers the ideal combination of corrosion and acid resistance, formability, and the abil- ity to be polished to a beautiful finish. 1930s and 1940s The Great Depression of the 1930s impacted stainless steel as it did all metal making. Production decreased from 58,000 tons in 1929 to 23,000 tons in 1932. Only a few applications saw increased stainless steel consumption during the decade, mainly in the trans- MEtallUrGy lanE stainlEss stEEl: tHE stEEl tHat doEs not rUst — part ii From wartime use to cutlery and building Facades, the stainless steel industry began to experience dynamic growth From the 1920s on, especially Following wwii. Metallurgy Lane, authored by ASM life member Charles R. Simcoe, is a yearlong series dedicated to the early history of the U.S. metals and materials industries along with key milestones and developments. The top seven stories of the Chrysler Building are covered with austenitic stainless steel. Courtesy of Petri Krohn and Leena Hietanen. Burlington Zephyr stainless steel passenger train, circa 1935. Courtesy of Roger Wollstadt. a d V a n c e d m a t e r i a l s & p r o c e s s e s | F e b r u a r y 2 0 1 5 3 2

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