Trends in stainless steel grades driving the appliance industry – the topic of a presentation by
Javier Avila quality control manager of Outokumpu Mexinox – are a textbook illustration of the ways in which customized solutions can be crafted to meet marketplace needs.
Polished austenitic steel, including grades 304, 301 and 316, was long a standard in the appliance industry, but it was not a perfect fit for the application. As Outokumpu advocated use of ferritic steel alloys, the industry began to take notice.
“Using ferritic grades with lower chromium content, we created highly corrosion-resistant alloys with a rolled-on finish,” Avila says. “In testing, these proved superior to austenitic polished steel. Because they contained little or no nickel, they were also more economical and costs were stable.”
Developing unique specifications
In making the transition to ferritic grades – 430 is the new standard in the appliance industry – Outokumpu Mexinox developed unique specifications to meet each customer’s unique needs.
“Each customer has his own formula that delivers specific finish consistency, roughness and mechanical properties,” Avila says, “and they are satisfied that we provide consistent results in producing it.”
Exploration of alternative solutions can lead to innovation, and Outokumpu is an active collaborator in that process. “We make it a priority to understand our customers’ needs,” Avila says. “That helps us as we develop specific properties to help them achieve their goals.