Metal enclosures and cabinets for housing electronics, gas supply or plumbing come in many shapes and sizes. Each has either a specific use case, or a variety of applications.
Stainless steel is a metal alloy specifically engineered to avoid rusting. The rust resistance is achieved by the inclusion of chromium in the alloy (around 10-11%), which also improves the heat resistance of the metal.
Stainless steel comes in many varieties (more than 100 in fact!), and can include elements of nitrogen, aluminium, titanium, sulphur, carbon, nickel, selenium, copper, molybdenum, niobium and more.
That can create a lot of confusion when discussing what stainless steel actually is. To clear up the confusion, types of stainless steel are generally referred to by a three digit number from the AISI. A complete list of ISO steel alloys is available here. But for the purposes of our steel electric boxes, there are really only two we need to focus on...
Outside of the United States, 304 is also referred to as A2 stainless steel, and is specified in European norm 1.4301.
304 stainless steel metal cabinets use the most common type of industrial stainless steel. It is also frequently used in household items, the catering industry and automotive industries.
These metal enlosures have great oxidisation and corrosion resistance, offering complete resistance to potable water containing up to 200mg/l(approx) chlorides at room temperature, reducing to about 150mg/l at 60° c.
The composition of 304 was developed in 1924 and was originally marketed as "Staybrite 18/8" due to its chromium & nickel content ratio.
The excellent resistance to weather and corrosion offered by 304 stainless steel enclosures makes them a staple for many environments. Extreme environments, where chorides or acids threaten to corrode 304 stainless steel, may be better suited to 316 stainless steel (below).
That really depends on the environment you plan to use it in. If you are in any doubt, simply call your trusted trusted electrical enclosure supplier on 0203 743 0700 and we'll happily talk you through options.
Stainless steel is used to produce enclosures because....
Cheaper mild steel enclosures are commonly used in....
Strictly speaking an alloy, aluminium enclosures have become popular for their light weight and resilience.