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Stainless Steel – The Do’s and Don’ts

So you want a Stainless Steel bolt? Not a problem, we can supply you with that, but what we will also give you is a little bit of information you may find handy whilst working with this particular compound.

Stainless Steel is a steel alloy combined with a minimum 10% chromium content, renowned for it’s anti rust, low corrosion, anti tarnish and durability properties. Before you launch into purchasing this handy versatile component, let me explain certain complexities you may encompass and ways in which to avoid them. galling3

When steel alloy is mixed with chromium, a chemical reaction occurs producing an invisible protective coating, this is what gives it protection against the elements. An interesting point to realise is that if the protective layer is broken through scratching, as long as there is oxygen present, Stainless Steel is capable of literally “healing” itself, with oxidisation stimulating the compounds to react once again to form the protective layer of film! Pretty nifty if you ask me.

So we have established that Stainless Steel is pretty remarkable however, there is a downside to this protective layer. When you combine your bolt and nut, the friction causes a breakdown of the layer resulting what is commonly known in the trade as “galling”. Galling means the bolt and fastener now have no protection between the two surfaces, so effectively there is the potential for them to “lock up”, making removal difficult, sometimes resulting in the bolt snapping.

galling1

In order to prevent galling, there are 3 steps to take. Without going into the reasons why, here are the guidelines you should follow:-

1) Stainless steel is a “cold” metal so therefore it is highly recommended to
use a slow application, reduce your RPM as fast drilling is a no go!
2) Use a lubricant on both the internal and external threads. Suggested lubricants
should contain high levels of molybdenum disulfide (moly), graphite, mica or talc.
3) Mix your grade of Stainless Steel, for example a grade 304 Bolt with a 316 Nut.

galling2

Stainless Steel is not an easy metal to work with and has shown itself to be a little more complex than other fasteners.

If you are venturing into a project requiring Stainless Steel, please give us a call so that we may better determine the exact grade you require to achieve optimum results. Bolts & Industrial Supplies pride ourselves on the service we can provide because that is what we do best.

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