For almost everyone, stainless steel is typically an attractive finish because of its shiny, vibrant appearance. When used for furniture, it looks great, but very pricey. Professionals need more compelling reasons to purchase and use stainless steel lab tables or industrial workbenches. If you are planning to put together a professional workspace for fabrication or research, you need to know these reasons so that you can make the best decisions for your organization.
Stainless steel gets its name from its resistance to corrosion and staining. This is a result of a thin layer of chromium oxide that is applied to the metals surface. This is where rust from carbon steel usually invites corrosion. The chromium oxide prevents this process and protects the steel. As a bonus, stainless steel surfaces also inherit antibacterial properties, making it ideal for tasks that involve food or biological materials. Stainless steel’s protective chromium layer also reforms quickly, maintaining its properties in the face of occasional scratches.
Stainless steel’s protective properties are not compromised by oxygen or water. Stainless steel can be immersed in water or exposed to an oxygen-rich environment without worry. Stainless steel is strong, too – many grades are suitable for heavy construction. This makes stainless steel a suitable material for lift tables and other industrial workbenches designed to carry heavy loads.
Finally, stainless steel is an excellent choice for companies that adhere to environmentally responsible policies for one simple reason: It’s 100% recyclable. If you outgrow a piece of stainless steel furniture it never needs to head to a landfill.
Nevertheless, stainless steel is not an ideal material in every situation. While stainless steel’s chromium oxide surface can repel water and air, it’s still vulnerable to acids. Furthermore, despite what the name might tell you, stainless steel is only stain resistant. Eventually, industrial dyes and similar compounds can leave their mark on a stainless surface if exposed for a long length of time.
Stainless steel’s protective outer layer will recover from occasional scratches, but not repeated metal to metal wear. Stainless steel is not recommended if you plan to use it as a work surface that will be subject to repeated heavy contact with other metals unless they are relatively softer in property, like aluminum or brass.
Metal to metal wear is also a concern if you need nuts, bolts and screws to connect adjustable elements of a stainless steel lab table or industrial workbench. If you replace any of these items on stainless steel furniture you must opt for a different metal, because stainless steel connectors and surfaces tend to fuse over time. This happens because friction removes the protective layer on both parts, and when it re-establishes itself, the layer forms evenly over the adjacent stainless steel objects.
Ultimately, choosing stainless steel should start with you consulting appropriate workplace regulations and guidelines. After that, think about your needs while keeping stainless steel’s material properties in mind. At RDM Industrial Products we can not only advise you about how to best use stainless steel furniture in your shop or lab, but can produce custom stainless steel lab tables and industrial furniture to meet your exact needs. Contact RDM to find out more.