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Stainless steel is an iron based metal with many different alloying elements, including chromium, which gives it better corrosion resistance than other iron based metals. Powder metallurgy allows for the creation of complex components with a superior surface finish and high ductility without the need for secondary operations like machining. This results in reduced manufacturing costs and shortened lead times.
The most commonly used grade is austenitic stainless steel (AISI 304) with a minimum of 10% chromium and a maximum of 17% nickel. Other grades with lower chromium content are available, but their use is restricted to low temperature applications because of their inferior corrosion resistance.
When designing a product, there are often certain attributes that need to be prioritized above all others. Durability is one of these critical factors, especially when the product will be in a harsh environment or see heavy use. Stainless steel is an ideal material for these types of products because of its strength, impact toughness and wear resistance.
Stainless steel can be powder coated to give it a long lifespan and make it look beautiful in the process. The powder coating is created with a mix of pigment and resin charged with static electricity and sprayed onto steel that is electrically grounded, then heated to form the thin, durable layer.
stainless steel powder metal can also be used in injection molding processes. Stanford Advanced Materials produces 17-4 PH, an austenitic stainless steel precipitation hardening alloy that is well suited to the PM injection molding process due to its good strength, ductility, weldability and corrosion resistance. The alloy can be produced with either milled water atomized or gas atomized powder. The gas atomized powder has a much lower interparticle friction and packing density than the milled water atomized variety, which makes it easier to mold.