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Drum It Up! Steel Drum Industry News, Trends, and Issues

Posts Tagged ‘stainless steel’

The Five Families of Stainless Steel

June 28th, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Stainless Steel

At Skolnik we offer a host of steel containers — our stainless steel drums offer an ideal solution for products requiring the purity, compatibility and strength of stainless steel. But just like Skolnik offers different families of products, there are different families of stainless steel. Five to be exact: austenitic stainless steel, ferritic stainless steel, martensitic stainless steel, duplex stainless steel and precipitation hardening stainless steel. The families are classified by their crystalline structure.

 

Austenitic stainless steel is the largest family. About two thirds of all stainless steel produced falls into this category. Their crystalline structure is achieved by alloying with sufficient nickel and/or manganese and nitrogen. These stainless steels maintain their microstructure at all temperatures so they can’t be hardenable by heat treatment, but can be strengthened by cold working to an extent.

Austenitic stainless steel is great for formability and weldability, they are also essentially non magnetic. They’re often used for tanks, containers, storage vessels, architecture and the like.

 

Ferritic stainless steel has a structure more similar to carbon steel, contains between 10.5% and 27% chromium with very little or no nickel. Due to the chromium structure, ferritic stainless steel also holds its structure at all temperatures and is not hardenable by heat treatment. However, they are magnetic and are problematic to weld.

Welding creates microstructural problems so ferritic stainless steel is not used in the construction of large, heavy walled vessels and tanks and structures.

 

Martensitic stainless steels form a family that can be heat treated to provide the adequate level of mechanical properties. Martensitic stainless steels are magnetic and are less corrosion resistant than ferritic and austenitic due to a lower chromium content.

However, their high carbon content enables them to be significantly hardened so they are commonly used for knives, razor blades, cutlery and tools.

Duplex stainless steel’s structure is a combination of that of austenite and ferrite, usually at a 50/50 or 40/60 mix. It’s characterized by high chromium and molybdenum with lower nickel contents. The mixed microstructure results in higher resistance to chloride stress corrosion.

Duplex stainless steel can be difficult to weld properly, but can sometimes be a cost-effective solution for chemical processing, transport and storage, and marine environments.

 

Precipitation hardening stainless steel has corrosion resistance comparable to austenitic varieties but can be hardened to even higher strengths than martensitic steel. Precipitation hardening stainless steel is often used for gears, valves and other engine components, nuclear waste casks, and other pieces in aerospace and other high-tech industries.

 

Beyond that, there are over 150 grades of stainless steel.

Skolnik stainless steel drums are available in a variety of gauges and sizes and are stainless types 304 and 316, both austenitic, and 409, a ferritic stainless steel. And our products are built thicker, heavier and stronger than industry standards require.

 

Hot or Cold Rolled? The Differences Between Steel Types

May 31st, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

It should come as no surprise that we here at Skolnik take great care in the steel we use to make our barrels. In every size we offer, from 15 gallon drums to 110 gallon and everything in between, we carefully consider every decision of the process, and one of the first to make is whether to use hot rolled steel, or cold rolled. Despite sounding like coffee orders, these terms describe how the steel is handled early on, and has a big impact on the final outcome of our barrels.

Regardless of the type of rolling process the steel ultimately goes through, when it’s first created it’s shaped into an ingot, billet, bloom or slab; the different shapes and sizes of the still raw, semi-finished steel. From there, the steel is heated above 1700 degrees Fahrenheit, which breaks down the crystals that make up the metal’s natural state. From there, the malleable molten metal is pushed through a variety of wheels, or rollers, that form the metal into its next shape. This can be the “I” shape of a structural beam, the round shape of a rod, or the flat sheets that we eventually use in our drums.

If this is all the work done on the steel, it’s considered hot-rolled. The steel is left to cool and then shipped off to be used in a wide variety of applications. Because of this shorter production time, hot-rolled steel is cheaper than cold-rolled. The trade-off is that is has an unattractive scale on the outside from being heated and is less accurate in its dimensions due to the shrinking and warping that occurs as it cools. Cold-rolled steel, on the other hand, isn’t finished after its initial shaping, and the additional steps it goes through are what sets it apart from its hot-rolled counterpart.

Once it’s been cooled to room temperature, there are a variety of finishing steps that cold-rolled steel can go through in this cooler state, including additional passes through rollers to further shape it, annealing, tempering and surface grinding and polishing. By going through these extra steps, cold-rolled steel is a cleaner, more attractive, more resilient metal with more accurate dimensions than steel that has merely been hot-rolled.

Here at Skolnik we only use cold-rolled steel in our products. In order to insure the correct dimensions crucial for maintaining the quality and consistency of such products as our 15 gallon drums, cold-rolled steel is the appropriate choice. Not only that, but it’s also better at taking paints and finishes that we apply to our barrels, making sure the surfaces of each drum are up to our demanding standards. Of course, how the steel is rolled is only one of many decisions made on the path to an excellent barrel, but by making the right choices early on, we insure that we make the absolute best product for our customers.

The Plastic Pollution Problem and the Stainless Steel Solution

April 16th, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News, Stainless Steel

Why is plastic such popular headline material this year? Well, because plastic pollution has finally reached a boiling point. Even with an increased awareness and consciousness of recycling, research warns that the amount of discarded plastic in just the ocean will triple in the next decade. If this warning becomes reality, in ten years there will be more plastic in our oceans than there are fish.

Sounds bleak, right? Well, the good news is that just as we’re all responsible for this issue, we can also all chip in to help. Every small change to our plastic-using habits helps, and we’ve already taken a huge first step by being more aware of the problem.

Stainless steel is considered the most reliable and safest material for industrial grade containers. Stainless steel drums, like the ones we manufacture at Skolnik, have long been a favorite for the storage and transportation of chemicals, consumables, hazardous materials and more. In recent years, plastic drums and containers entered the scene and boasted their superior lightweight and flexibility. However, there is a reason stainless steel drums are still considered the gold standard. Not only can they promise levels of durability and sanitation that porous plastic cannot, but they are also vastly more eco-friendly.

And, with plastic pollution clogging our oceans and newsfeeds, more businesses and individuals are actively trying to cut down on their plastic waste, and they are turning to stainless steel to help. In fact, the global stainless steel market is currently being driven by an increased demand for consumer goods. Consumers are picking up reusable stainless steel straws to cut back on plastic straw use, businesses are implementing stainless steel water refill stations for their employees or patrons, and more.

We hope that stainless steel products such as our stainless steel drums continue to help people cut down on plastic waste and reverse the disastrous predictions of environmental experts.

 

What Makes Our Stainless Steel Process Drums So Stainless?

March 29th, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is the hero to industries that require sturdy, dependable, sanitary products to keep materials clean and safe for human consumption. It’s in our kitchens and on our dinner tables, needles are crafted out of it, as are surgical implants. At Skolnik, we produce stainless steel, crevice-free, seamless process drums, perfect for personal care and pharmaceutical products or on your food processing line.

But what is it that makes stainless steel…. stainless? Why is it good for handling food? And what is the difference between “304” and “316” type steels?

First, the science behind the steel. Steel is an attractive material in general because it’s lightweight while maintaining excellent strength. The down side to regular steel is that has a tendency to pass on a metallic taste, and more importantly, it corrodes quite easily. Exposed to any amount of moisture, steel generates iron oxide and, over time, regular steel rusts away.

The solution, however, starts with one element: chromium. The same element used in making your car wheels shiny is also the key to making stainless steel work. By smelting a steel alloy that involves at least 10.5% Chromium, the resulting metal spontaneously generates a microscopic layer of chrome oxide, an inert, self-repairing film that protects the metal below. Thus, manufacturers such as ourselves are able take advantage of the strength and durability of steel, while resisting much of the corrosion and unpleasant taste that plague many other metals. This makes it a great material for food-safe applications.

Just what qualifies for “food-safe” though? According to the FDA, “materials that are used in the construction of utensils and food contact surfaces of equipment::

  • Must not allow the migration of ‘deleterious substances or impart colors, odors, or tastes’ to food […]
  • Be ‘durable, corrosion-resistant, and nonabsorbent’ […]
  • Possess sufficient ‘weight and thickness to withstand repeated warewashing’ […]
  • Be ‘finished to have a smooth, easily cleanable surface’ [and]
  • Have resistance to ‘pitting chipping crazing, scratching, scoring, distortion, and decomposition’.”

With chrome oxide perpetually preventing harm, stainless steel is up for the food-safe task, which is why we use in such products as our process drums. It’s sturdiness and ability to withstand sanitation processes while resisting passing on unwanted substances makes it ideal to store food-safe products.

Now, all stainless steel is not made equal. While a major component may be chromium, there are many variations the chemical composition of the alloy, each with their advantages and disadvantages. For example, there is 18/8, named for its 18% chromium and 8% nickel composition. At Skolnik, we use types 304 and 316. 304 has the same 18% chromium, 8% nickel mix that 18/8 has, but 316 has 16% chromium, 10% nickel, and 2% mollybdenum. While 304 is more cost effective and plenty corrosion-resistant, the addition of mollybdenum to 316 helps fight against corrosive salts, something 304 is not as good at resisting.

Which type of drum you use is going to depend on what you need them for, and we are more than happy to help you find the right fit for your project, but no matter which type you go with, if you buy from Skolnik you’ll be getting high quality, food-grade products made out of the best stainless steel that will keep you and your customers safe.