Quickly becoming a global hit product, the high-chromium ferritic grade Outokumpu 4622 is rooted in R&D excellence and collaboration.
Launched in October 2013, Outokumpu 4622 is the latest addition to the company's ferritics portfolio. The new grade fulfills ASTM UNS S44330 requirements and EN standardization is in the works.
Outokumpu 4622 is also the company's first ever high-chromium grade, offering tangible benefits to Outokumpu customers. Senior Research Engineer
Juha Kela explains that Outokumpu 4622 delivers improved performance in terms of corrosion resistance, strength and formability. This makes it a suitable alternative to common austenitic grades, such as 304(L) – and the superior performance of the new product has been proved in laboratory tests, too. Furthermore, 4622 has good chloride resistance even including resistance to stress corrosion cracking.
"The product is a highly competitive and attractive alternative," Kela believes. The newcomer can be used in a wide range of applications from home appliances and exhaust systems to process equipment and cladding panels.
"Also pots and pans as well as kitchen utensils could utilize 4622 as the material is almost ridging free, which means less polishing. Hot water boilers are another potential application for the new grade. On the road, one potential solution is the decorative trims of cars," Kela adds.
Feel the steel
According to Kela, Outokumpu 4622 is a high-chromium ferritic stainless steel for general use.
"Since there is no nickel in the product, it is less expensive for the customer than 304(L) – yet the corrosion performance level is identical to that of austenitic steel." The grade 4622 also has better deep-drawability than 304(L) – meaning that material savings can be achieved as products can now be made from smaller quantity.
The hit product did not materialize overnight. In fact, there is a five-year development project behind 4622, with intense collaboration between various parties. Funded by Finnish innovation and research agency TEKES, the project featured two Finnish universities and involvement from Outokumpu Tornio Research Center (TRC). Furthermore, Outokumpu production departments were involved in the full scale production trials.
Kela looks back and admits to being impressed by the speed of the R&D project – and the quality of the endproduct, of course.
"It is motivating to see that we were able to create a really strong product that is a great fit for the market. The development of this grade started from market demand: we listened to our customers. Outokumpu can react fast to customer need, as the grade was on the market within three years," Kela says, citing the project as a real success story.
How about those markets, then? According to Kela, Outokumpu 4622 has been making waves especially in Asia.
"Countries like China, Australia and Taiwan have been interested," he says. In Asia, there are rival products which have, however, been alloyed and processed differently – but the market is clearly familiar with the concept and eager to try the Finnish steel.
And it's not just the Far Eastern market that is heating up: Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Poland and South America are keen on the new product. After the launch, the interest level has been rising constantly and globally, Kela notes.
George Miech from Outokumpu's Business Development team in Australia points out that Outokumpu 4622 can compete against Asian 304(L) sheet and coils, which are dominant in the Australian market. The 4622 grade is a good alternative to high-chromium ferritics already on the market by Asian producers.
"The new grade is making its way to the market and I am glad to see it targeted as a substitute, for example, with galvanized materials over here. Apart from just booking the material directly, the Melbourne Service Center also offers further processing and adding value through cut-to-length and No. 4 polishing," Miech says.
"We believe that 4622 represents a combination of high quality and competitive pricing that the customers respond to at this time," concludes Kela.