From the simplest of zippers to the tallest of skyscrapers such as the Chrysler building, stainless steel has become essential in both commercial and domestic applications, with many industries heavily regarding this metal as the most effective solution to their needs.
What is stainless steel?
Also known as inox steel or simply inox, stainless steel contains a group of iron-based alloys (including iron, chromium and nickel) which help it resist corrosion and heat, while it also enhances its fabricating characteristics. Yet, what has rendered it highly popular is the fact that it has a long life cycle, while it is 100% recyclable. Available in all forms, you may find it in sheets and strips, as well as bars, wire pipes and tubing. What's more, you may opt for a variety of finishings such as brushed, polished, swirled or perforated depending on your taste and needs.
How to get hold of stainless steel locally
The metal's prevalence is visible locally with suppliers across Malta and Gozo offering a range of stainless steel products and custom-made works ranging from doors, windows and facades to partitioning, gates, railings and fences that can be produced in a variety of styles be it rustic or modern. Other common items include flag poles, signage, frames, staircases, shelving and furniture, together with smaller items like letterboxes. Certain stainless steel suppliers also sell a number of other materials and accessories like sealants and fasteners to name a few.
Pricing varies from supplier to supplier, with this heavily depending on the type of project you have requested, however, the majority of distributors usually offer free quotes, whereby they visit your premises, take measurements and offer advice on the best possible solution.
When is stainless steel used?
Perhaps one of the least corrosive materials, its resistance, ease of cleaning (be it by steam or sterilisation) and the fact that it needs no surface coatings means that it is the material of choice for a wide array of industries.
Kitchen - Offering a modern and clean look, it comes as no surprise that stainless steel is the most requested material for the home. From cookware to cutlery and appliances, it has become quite popular in the kitchen. Locally, it is also commonly used in the bathroom where it is used to create soaking tubs and hammered sinks.
Medicine - Surgical tools and other medical equipment are always made out of steel since they can easily be sterilised in an autoclave without them disintegrating or decaying, whereas surgical implants like hip sockets and cranial plates are also made out of this material because they can withstand biological processes. On the other hand, stainless steel is also widely used in dentistry for things like implants, crowns, brackets and other things most especially in orthodontics.
Construction - From heavy equipment to tools and machinery, the construction industry has heavily relied on stainless steel's properties and benefits. It came into prominence during the art deco period, however, nowadays it is predominantly utilised on building exteriors such as roofs, while it is ideal for cladding, metalworking and interior decorative finishes. It is also preferred due to the fact that it blends well with other materials amongst which include glass, wood and concrete.
Chemical and petrochemical processing - its ability to resist corrosion be it due to aqueous solutions, gases or high temperatures makes stainless steel ideal for this industry. For example, it is found in tankers used to store or transport chemicals and food.
Commercial kitchens - a common sight in such kitchens, stainless steel is typically used for countertops, cabinets and food preparation tables. Its ability to withstand high temperatures, while the fact that it is nonporous and therefore safe for food preparation means that it provides good protection against stains, helping you to maintain the kitchen in tiptop condition. The material is often used in the same manner in food processing plants, breweries and wineries.
Airports - stainless steel is mainly employed as roofing since it abides with the strict aviation low-reflectivity and Solar Reflective Index (SRI) requirements, which helps reduce reflecting glare and therefore, makes it safer for pilots to land planes without being blinded.
How to clean and take care of your stainless steel
Whether you have opted for stainless steel as your commercial or your residential solution, its exposure to a score of things ranging from dirt and grease to water spots and even fingerprints means that you might want to give your surfaces a good clean every so often. For removing fingerprints and water spots, a commercial stainless steel cleaner should do the trick, yet for tougher stains, you might need to use some warm water and detergent such as liquid soap. Ensure that any scrubbing is done in the direction of the grain since wiping against it may cause small surface scratches and may ruin the product, while always use a soft cloth as opposed to a wire sponge or a piece of steel wool. Also, avoid abrasive detergents like bleach and if stainless steel is prevalent in your kitchen, do not let acidic food items remain on the surface because doing so may leave white markings.