Austenitic stainless steels are iron-chromium-nickel alloys which are hardenable only by cold working. Nickel is the main element varied within the alloys of this class while carbon is kept to low levels. The nickel content may be varied from about 4% to 22% - higher values of nickel are added to increase to ductility of the metal. When chromium is increased to raise the corrosion resistance of the metal, nickel must also be increased to maintain the austenitic structure.
These alloys are slightly magnetic in the cold-worked condition, but are essentially non-magnetic in the annealed condition in which they are most often used. The austenitic types feature adaptability to cold forming, ease of welding, high-temperature service, and, in general, the highest corrosion resistance. Following are brief descriptions of some of our most commonly ordered stainless steels