Stainless steel is a group of ferrous alloys that contain a minimum of approximately 11% chromium, a composition that prevents the iron from rusting and also provides heat-resistant properties. Different types of stainless steel include the elements carbon, nitrogen, aluminium, silicon, sulfur, titanium, nickel, copper, selenium, niobium, and molybdenum. Specific types of stainless steel are often designated by their AISI three-digit number, e.g., 304 stainless. The ISO 15510 standard lists the chemical compositions of stainless steels of the specifications in existing ISO, ASTM, EN, JIS, and GB standards in a useful interchange table.
Stainless steel's resistance to rusting results from the presence of chromium in the alloy, which forms a passive film that protects the underlying material from corrosion attack, and can self-heal in the presence of oxygen. Corrosion resistance can be increased further by the following means:
increase chromium content to more than 11%
add nickel to at least 8%
The addition of nitrogen also improves resistance to pitting corrosion and increases mechanical strength.