Stainless Steel – A History

In October of 2012, the 100th anniversary of the first stainless steel patent was celebrated. Since that time, the versatile metal has permeated every area of human life, from simple knives and forks to huge, complex structures and machines.

Experiments with making metals more resistant to corrosion date back many thousands of years. The Pillar of Delhi, erected upon the orders of Kumara Gupta I in AD 400 and constructed from phosphorous-enriched iron, still stands to this day. It was not until 1821 that iron-chromium alloys were recognised to have a high corrosion resistance when Pierre Berthier, a French Metallurgist, suggested they be used to create cutlery after he noted their impressive resistance to a range of acids. Although possible in theory, metallurgists in the 19th century lacked the technology to produce the high-chromium­/low-carbon formation of modern stainless steel. Any alloys they produced that did contain high levels of chromium were far to brittle to have any practical application.

The century progressed and, in the late 1890s, German researcher Hans Goldschmidt managed to develop a process to produce carbon-free chromium, utilising a thermite reaction. Other scientists, notably Frenchman Leon Guillet, quickly developed the idea further, several of them successfully creating alloys that were almost identical to modern-day stainless steel.

In 1908, the pinnacle of stainless steel technology was introduced to an excited public, although it did not yet have this name. At 366 tonnes, the sailing-yacht Germania featured an innovative nickel-chrome hull and was admired by the world. The patent for austenitic stainless steel quickly followed, named as ThyssenKrupp Nirosta and granted to Krupp engineers Eduard Maurer and Benno Strauss in 1912. Although similar developments had been occuring in the USA and a patent for martensitic stainless steel alloy had been applied for there in 1912, rights for production were not granted until 1919.

The metal took root in the public consciousness, particularly after the high-profile installation of a stainless steel entrance canopy at London's prestigious Savoy Hotel in 1929. Demand for stainless steel began to grow, with 25,000 tons of the metal manufactured and sold in the USA in that same year. Presently, the worldwide demand for stainless steel continues to remain at an incredibly high level.

BS Stainless provide a diverse range of customers around the world with our stainless steel products. From stainless steel plate and welding wire to Aluzinc and stainless steel strip coil, our products and their supply continue to maintain our enviable reputation for superior-quality products at a realistic price, coupled with impeccable client relationships. For more information on any of our comprehensive range of products and services, please browse our website or contact a member of our expert team.

For more Information please contact us on 01772 33 75 55 or email

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