When you hear or read about stainless steel, the information is often accompanied by a number representing the particular grade of the metal in question. Most regularly, this will be a number in the 300s – stainless steel of this grade has nickel added to it. Nickel is one of the most important metals to the stainless steel industry so here are all the facts you need to know about it.
- The word nickel is a shortened translation of the German word kupfernickel. Kupfer means copper and the term nickel in German referred to Satan or the devil.
- In its naturally-occurring state, nickel is a whitish-silver metal (sometimes with a golden tinge) and is the fifth most-common element on our planet. Most of it is, however, in the Earth’s core and therefore way out of our reach
- Nickel has an extremely-high melting point, somewhere up around 1453 ºC
- It is especially ductile and strongly resistant to all forms of oxidation and corrosion
- When at room temperature, nickel is magnetic and can be deposited in an electroplating process - it also readily alloys and displays catalytic properties
- Nickel is particularly versatile thanks to its characteristics and is consequently found in more than 300,000 products used in every sector of life from marine to military and aerospace to architecture - its biggest use is in creating alloys such as stainless steel (around 65% of all nickel is used in this way - the rest goes to special alloys for industrial and military use (20%), plating (9%) and other uses (6%) including batteries, electronic items and coins
- We need nickel for more than just products, we need it for food too. Essential to the healthy, normal growth of plants, it is found in most vegetables, nuts, fruits and the food products derived from them
- The 5-cent coin in the USA is called a nickel but today contains only around 25% of the metal - the rest is copper
Understanding the different grades of stainless steel can be a big help in making your projects more successful. Our dedicated team are always available to offer you clear and intelligent advice, giving you the confidence to achieve far more than you ever thought possible.