The first and most important step toward successful use of a stainless steel or nickel alloy is selection of the proper type for the application. Stainless steel plates and nickel alloy plates include a large number of standard types, but these types differ greatly from one another in composition, corrosion resistance, physical properties, and mechanical properties, and the selection of the optimum type for a specific application is the key to satisfactory performance at a minimum total cost.

Corrosion resistance is frequently the most important characteristic of a stainless steel plate, a nickel alloy plate, or a heat resistant stainless steel plate but is often also the most difficult to assess for a specific application.

Mechanical properties at service temperature are an obvious consideration, but sometimes overlooked is the necessity for satisfactory properties at other temperatures, which are likely to be experienced.

Selection must consider not only performance requirements but also fabrication and cleaning requirements. Frequently, a particular type is chosen for a fabrication characteristic such as formability or weldability over other types, which would perform adequately, but cost more to fabricate.

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