Giandomenico FrassiIn Italian, inox stands for non-oxidizable, so when you see Pintinox’s red sign on the façade of the industrial plant, you immediately know that the heart of this factory is made of stainless steel.
The company is run by the third generation of the Pinti family; its core business is manufacturing flatware, cookware and kitchen accessories for the catering, hotel and retail industries. Pintinox maintains two production plants – one in Northern Italy and one near Barcelona, Spain – and has a global distribution network.
Outokumpu asked Pintinox, a long-standing customer, to test its new high-chromium ferritic stainless steel Core 4622, which has been recently added to European standard (EN 10028-7), as a high quality alternative to austenitic 304L.
Farewell to roping
“To test this raw material, we made a deep drawing pot. The result was impressive,” says Ruggero Borghetti, Production Manager at Pintinox. Roberto Pinti, owner and Technical Director at Pintinox continues: “The test proves that Core 4622 performs no less than austenitic stainless steel such as 304L, our current standard. Furthermore, Core 4622 results in virtually roping-free.”
High-chromium ferritic stainless steel Core 4622 was added to European standard (EN 10028-7) in July 2016.
Roping is a common drawback of ferritic grades. The effect originates during the very first stage of stainless steel production when an unfavorable structure forms during slab casting while steel is molten. As a result, conspicuous, directional, wavy stripes appear on the surface after the steel has been formed into the final product, such as a pot formed by deep-drawing.
For Pintinox, less roping means efficiency in time and money because polishing operations are much faster. “For our customers, it means higher hygiene, because food residues do not stick to cracks and flaws that appear on the pot surface,” says Pinti.
Changing a habit
“As a ferritic stainless steel, the magnetic properties make Core 4622 suitable for modern induction stoves,” adds Borghetti. “In addition to pots and pans, we have much more potential applications for the grade.” According to Pinti, a raw material with these features can bring in orders. “But we have to explain this innovation and convince our customers to change their habits,” he notes.
“We know that it is not always easy for a customer to acquire new products”, explains Marco Frigo, Outokumpu’s Customer Service Manager. “It can be difficult to accept ferritic stainless steel instead of austenitic, even if ferritic performs better. In the wine industry, for example, it is recognized that natural cork is riskier than synthetic cork, but plastic stoppers are still rejected for high quality wines.”
Core 4622 does have a winning quality: like the most of ferritic stainless steels, there is no nickel alloying. Therefore, its price is stable compared to high nickel grades like AISI 304/304L, whose price can fluctuate. Nickel is expensive and experiences high volatility. “The nickel price is currently low, but it has been increasing in the last few months and this can turn the tables,” says Frigo.