Austenitic stainless steel
Austenitic stainless steel is mainly characterised by a high content of chromium (Cr), a high content of nickel (Ni), a low content of carbon (C) and often the addition of molybdenum (Mo). This group of steel is by far the largest and most significant and both the regular 18/8 and the “acidproof” belong to this group. It is normally non-magnetic but becomes faintly magnetic by cold deformation.
From a mechanic perspective, austenitic steel has a long “elongation at rupture” (great toughness). Austenitic steel is relatively soft and particularly suitable for plastic moulding for instance, in the deep drawing of kitchen sinks. Compared to the remaining types, austinites are nearly “bubble gum steel” and it is exactly the great formability, weldability and the resistance to corrosion which makes the austinites the most used group by far. Everything from door handles to enormous brewery tanks can be made of austenitic stainless steel.
Contrary to ferritic steel, austenitic steel does not become brittle at low temperatures and has better qualities against shrinking at high temperatures. Austenitic steel generally possesses good resistance to corrosion but is vulnerable to chloride-induced stress corrosion. Therefore, austenitic steel is not always suitable for highly heated components in aqueous environments.