Stainless steel is an attractive material for a variety of applications, usually due to the corrosion resistance and strength but sometimes also for aesthetics. However, designers that are new to stainless steel can find the choice of grades confusing. Alistair Rae provides an overview of the different types, typical applications and recent developments. Virtually everyone comes into contact with stainless steel daily, if only in the form of cutlery. For engineering applications, however, stainless steel is considered to be more of a specialist material, and only used where essential. This is because it can be difficult to machine compared with carbon steels and aluminium, and more costly to purchase. On the other hand, for some applications – such as those in the food, pharmaceutical and chemical industries – the use of stainless steel is all but essential because of its corrosion resistance. Those design engineers not familiar with stainless steel can soon become confused by the different types and grades, and it is important to select the correct grade in order to create a satisfactory design that can be manufactured at a reasonable cost.Stainless steel differs fr...