Fact or Fiction: Getting Real with Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is light, strong and resistant to corrosion. It’s an ideal material for piping. But there are long-standing misconceptions about stainless steel that can lead to applications not having the most appropriate type.

Avoid costly and time-consuming repairs. Familiarise yourself with this material by separating fact from fiction. Improve your use and maintenance of stainless steel and learn how to choose which type is appropriate for specific applications.

  1. Stainless steel will never rust.

FICTION – Anyone familiar with metals will tell you that stainless steel is still subject to rust. Made with iron, carbon, nickel, molybdenum and chromium, it is the last element that makes it particularly corrosion-resistant. But improper maintenance renders this protective element less effective.

When cleaning your stainless steel pipes, avoid using solutions that contain chlorine. These cleaners can pit the surface of the stainless steel and create deep pit holes in the metal. Prolong your pipes’ lifespan by using cleaners that are specifically for stainless steel. Additionally, use a soft bristle brush instead of steel wool to avoid damaging the damaging the surface. Steel wool leaves microscopic particles in the surface, that then rust making the stainless steel appear as if it is corroding. If the chromium oxide surface on stainless steel is scratched, the exposed chromium quickly oxidises forming a tightly bonded chromium oxide passive skin that resists further damage.

  1. Stainless steel is more affordable than other piping materials.

Fact – Although stainless steel is more expensive than other materials, it is more cost-effective in the long term. Its durability, tensile strength, and corrosion resistance make it easier to save on repairs and replacements. With the proper maintenance, you can use the same stainless steel pipes for decades.

  1. Stainless steel is a recyclable material.

FACT – Stainless steel is one of the most recycled materials around the world. Additionally, it doesn’t suffer from degradation even after multiple rounds of recycling. Now, you don’t have to add broken pipes in the landfill. Redirect them towards recycling plants to give them new purpose and decrease your carbon footprint.

  1. All stainless steel is the same and can be used anywhere.

FICTION – There is a misconception that there is only one type of stainless steel when there are four main types with multiple variations. Knowing how to differentiate them will help you determine which type is appropriate for your application.

  • Austenitic steel is non-magnetic. Containing chromium, nickel and carbon. Its high nickel content gives it better resistance to stress corrosion cracking.
  • Ferritic steel is magnetic and is a nickel free grade with varying chromium levels from 12-18%, making it less expensive than others. But like austenitic steel, ferritic steel is resistant to stress corrosion cracking.
  • Martensitic steel has higher carbon levels than the others and is the first branch of plain chromium stainless steels. This makes it harder to weld, often requiring pre- and post-weld treatments. This is the steel type often used to make cutting tools.
  • Duplex steel is a combination of austenitic and ferritic. Most grades include some molybdenum plus some nitrogen addition. Its higher yield strength is also the reason behind its popularity in corrosive piping applications.

Understanding Stainless Steel Pipes with Air Energy

Stainless steel pipes are widely used in Australia as they are ideal for high performance piping systems. Although it costs more than other piping material, it’s still cost effective for most applications. Let Air Energy help you with our expertise on the subject.

Specialising in pipework, we have the knowledge and experience to help you with your piping systems. We provide several stainless steel solutions that are available throughout Australia.

Get in touch with our team today. Call us on (03) 9765 5600 or send an email to sales@airenergy.com.au.

When it comes to selecting piping systems for your facility, you want your pipes to operate efficiently, resist corrosion and abrasion, be leak proof and last as long as possible. While pipes are generally manufactured to withstand tough working environments, there are several factors to consider when choosing the right type of pipe. Maximum pressure conditions, ambient surroundings, connections to existing piping systems and many other factors help you determine the right pipes for your application.

With so many types of piping systems on the market, here’s a basic guide to three of the most common pipe materials and how they work best.

Polyethylene pipes

Polyethylene (PE100) is a versatile and economical pipe material for many applications. It is widely used due to its outstanding physical and performance benefits. For instance, it does not rust, corrode or rot. Typical design life is a minimum of 50 years, long term testing indicates up to 200 years @ 20℃. This means long-term cost savings with quality PE pipes because of their extended service life. Polyethylene pipes are also flexible and have outstanding resistance to fatigue and most chemicals. They are designed and pressure-rated to handle the surges that are common in water and compressed air distribution systems.

These qualities make quality PE pipes the ideal piping material for applications such as natural gas distribution, waste disposal, drainage lines, sewers and water service or distribution lines.

Stainless steel pipes

Stainless steel is known for being a ‘miracle metal’ as it is used for countless industrial and commercial applications. While it is pricier compared to other piping options such as PVC or copper, the advantages of stainless steel make it worth the investment.

For one, stainless steel pipes form durable systems that last for decades. The pipes are easy to install and maintain. Due to its corrosion-resistant properties, stainless steel will stay rust-free for many years, even when water and compatible chemicals are in constantly contact. Stainless steel is also strong enough to resist extreme weather conditions and tree roots that crack other piping materials.

Stainless steel is easy to clean and doesn’t tarnish, making it a popular application for pipes used where sanitation is important, including the medical sector and the food and beverage industry. Other well-known industries that use stainless steel pipes are aerospace, oil & gas and engineering because of a high degree of heat resistance.

Aluminium pipes

Many engineering firms, contractors and architects choose aluminium piping for compressed air systems because they are easy to install and modify. Aluminium doesn’t require soldering or threading, eliminating the need for skilled workers and special threading equipment. Aluminium’s corrosion-resistant properties also ensure optimal airflow, better air quality and reduced energy costs.

Aside from heavy-duty compressed air systems, aluminium pipes are also widely used in nitrogen systems. Aluminium is capable of withstanding a wide range of temperatures, making it suitable for systems that operate at differing degrees and intensities.

High-performance industrial piping systems from Air Energy

Air Energy is a leading provider of industrial piping systems. Established in 1993, we have been supplying a comprehensive range of compressed air equipment, pumps and industrial pipework. Strategically located near Eastlink, we have quick access to major industrial regions. With high-quality products and a dedicated customer service team, we are focused on giving the best solutions to each of our clients.

For more information and inquiries, contact (03) 9765 5600.