What does that mean for my business?

As of July 2017 APC Technology will manufacture the FT displays and Panel PCs using stainless steel grade 316 as its standard build material. Previously units were produced using grade 304 unless specified by the client under a custom option.

The decision to utilise grade 316 as a standard for the FT range has been based on the superior rugged properties and the additional benefit notably its higher corrosive resistance.

APC Technology outlines the attributes of stainless steel as a manufacturing material of choice and the difference between the two grades.

Why is Stainless Steel a superior material to use in manufacturing equipment?

Stainless steel actually does stain less easily than other iron based metals but it is not completely stainless- inevitably it will be marked by fingerprints, grease, develop discolouration and eventually rust. The main difference and benefit is how resilient it is- stainless steel can withstand more abuse before showing wear and tear than other build materials. Like all metals there are varying grades of stainless steel, each with a different alloy composition which results in different physical characteristics.

The benefit of using stainless steel over other metals is its innate ability to form a passive layer that prevents corrosion. The chromium which is found in stainless steel reacts with oxygen environments much as the same as iron, which results in rust. However only a very fine layer of chromium will oxidise and the chromium oxide is highly durable and non-reactive. It adheres to stainless steel surfaces and won’t transfer. It is also self-renewing; if it’s removed or damaged, more chromium will react with oxygen and replenish the barrier. Therefore the higher the chromium content the faster the barrier repairs itself.

Additional benefits of using stainless steel includes:-

  • Superior resistance to chloride
  • High and low temperature resistance- resists scaling and maintains high strength at high temperatures whilst also showing exceptional toughness at cryogenic temperatures
  • Improved steel resistance to pitting and crevice corrosion
  • Ease of fabrication
  • Strength- the cold work hardening properties of many stainless steels can be used in design to reduce material thickness and therefore reduce weight and costs
  • Aesthetically appealing
  • Life cycle characteristics- stainless steel is a durable, low maintenance material and is often the least expensive choice in a life cycle comparison

To qualify as stainless steel there must be at least 10.5% chromium. Depending on the grade it may contain higher levels and additional alloying ingredients. The two most common grades are 304 and 316. The main difference is the addition of molybdenum, an alloy which drastically enhances corrosion resistance, especially for more saline or chloride-exposed environments.

Scott Begbie, Managing Director of APC Technology commented on the impact of using quality materials to meet the demands of challenging environments. “When a company is looking for a rugged stainless steel computing solution, it is critical to ask the question about the grade of the material. There are an array of products on the market that appear to look and feel like our FT displays and panel PCs but are actually made from a lower grade which will affect the life span of a product. Our clients work in some of the most demanding environments and they need to know the build quality will match their needs. APC Technology can provide the guarantee that the stainless steel we purchase is of an industrial grade. “

Understanding the difference between Stainless Steel Grades 304 and 316

304 Stainless Steel

304 grade is the most common form used around the world because it still offers excellent corrosion resistance at an affordable price. It typically contains between 16 and 24% chromium and up to 35% nickel. The fact that it can withstand corrosion from most oxidising acids means it durability makes it easy to sanitise and is ideal for kitchens and food applications. However it is susceptible to corrosion from chloride solutions which means if industrial cleaning agents are being used, for example in a factory or for clean down, then the longevity will be reduced.

316 Stainless Steel

316 grade has an almost identical physical and mechanical properties as 304 stainless steel but the key difference is 2-3% of molybdenum. This addition increases resistance, particularly against chlorides, corrosive chemicals and industrial solvents. There is also improvements in steel resistance to pitting and crevice corrosion.

316 stainless steel is ideal for industrial applications involving processing chemicals, highly sterile factory environments, medical and pharmaceutical production as well as high saline environments such as coastal regions and outdoor areas.

Why is it good news for my business?

APC Technology have opted to make stainless steel 316 the standard (1) enclosure build material without any additional costs to current or new clients who place orders after July 12017 (2)

Businesses who purchase from the FT range will potentially benefit from the additional resistance values of grade 316, resulting in a probable increase in ROI due to increased longevity of the solution without any increase to purchasing budgets. 

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Sources

1  This is based on current market prices. If there is a significant increase in cost of the material in the future the decision may change. Sufficient notification will be provided to current clients and potential clients.

All quotes prior to July 1st 2017 may be based on the utilisation of stainless steel 304. Please contact APC Technology if you have any questions.

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