In the world of design and aesthetics, the allure of shiny metal has always captivated the human eye. Among the various materials that embody this gleaming quality, stainless steel…
What is bronze?
Bronze is a copper alloy traditionally comprising copper and tin. First used around 3,300 BCE, bronze was the first man-made metal alloy, and it quickly found widespread use. While later surpassed in wider usage by metals such as iron and steel, many varieties of bronze continue to see plenty of utility today, particularly in design projects as commonly used architectural metals.
What’s the difference between bronze and brass?
Both bronze and brass are copper alloys, which means they contain a blend of copper and other metals in their composition. The strict chemical difference between them is that bronze is traditionally made from copper and tin, while brass contains a blend of copper and zinc.
This confusion between the two alloys is understandable given naming conventions within the industry today. For instance, both architectural bronze and commercial bronze are alloys made from copper and zinc, meaning they could more properly be regarded as brass.
What is stainless steel?
Stainless steel is a low-carbon, corrosion-resistant metal alloy of iron and at least 10.5% chromium by weight. Stainless steel may also contain nickel and other metals, but must have less than 1.2% carbon content. The chromium content provides corrosion-resistant properties, as this component creates a corrosion-resistant oxide film on the surface of the steel that helps the metal to “heal” itself, unlike traditional steel.
What kinds of stainless steel are there?
Because the precise chemical composition of stainless steel can vary by even small percentages, there are thousands of potential types of stainless steel. However, around 60+ specific grades of stainless steel exist on the market today, and these grades can be grouped according to whether they are austenitic, ferritic, or martensitic. There are also duplex forms of stainless steel (a blend of austenitic and ferritic) as well as precipitation hardening steels.
What is the life cycle of stainless steel?
Stainless steel is built to last. It has a very long life cycle, with a design life expectancy of around 50 years and, of course, a theoretical lifespan of hundreds of years or more. The precise longevity of stainless steel varies depending on the grade, usage, and maintenance. Following its service life, stainless steel is fully recyclable, making it one of the most environmentally friendly metals on the market.
Why is stainless "stainless"?
If not protected from the atmosphere, standard varieties of steel will rust. Stainless steel also rusts (in fact, it’s a common misconception that it does not); however, stainless steel rusts much differently from ordinary steel, as the chromium content enables the metal to form a protective oxide film on its outer surface. This gives the appearance of the metal being “stainless” (as the rust is not reddish-brown), and this property helps grant stainless steel a longer lifespan and an improved appearance.
What are the benefits of stainless steel?
The chief advantage of stainless steel is, of course, its resistance to corrosion and unique “stainless” properties. This resistance has made it a highly popular metal, both for industrial purposes and for use in architecture and design projects, as considerations need not be made for how the metal will corrode and change in appearance with time. Other benefits of stainless steel include resistance to damage from ultraviolet light and minimal maintenance needs, as typically stainless steel may be washed with soap and water, rather than demanding more complex methods.
Stainless steel requires little in the way of maintenance and cleaning. Stainless steel in indoor environments or areas with little risk of exposure to harsh environmental factors may be effectively cleaned with only standard soap and water. For stainless steel used in sheltered outdoor areas, or in places where the environment is harsher due to issues such as weather or chemical exposure, it may be necessary to wash using pressurized water or a mild detergent.
Red Metals (Bronze/Brass/Muntz/Naval/Copper)
Red metals (that is, copper and related alloys such as bronze and brass) should be cleaned and maintained with greater care. These metals can be cleaned to remove dirt, grime, fingerprints, and signs of oxidation if a patina is not desired. Clean using a solution of 50% lacquer thinners and 50% water and a lint-free cloth, wiping only with the direction of the grain. Rinse the surface of the metal thoroughly with clean water, then wipe dry using another lint-free cloth.
Aluminum may be cleaned using a combination of warm water and a mild detergent, such as dishwashing liquid. Wipe using a washcloth or sponge and use caution in removing more difficult stains or built-up patches of grime. Abrasive pads or harsh cleaners may scratch aluminum much more easily than other metals; however, baking soda and a moist cloth may be effective in removing more difficult stains without leaving deep scratches or damaging the surface of the metal.