The Basics of Stainless Steel Finishes

A key part of the stainless steel manufacturing process is applying the correct finishes. Stainless steel finishing improves the aesthetic of the final product and provides the desired grain patterns, smoothness, and reflectiveness. When done the right way, it also makes your product look like one cohesive piece of metal by blending and hiding the weld marks between the different sections.

There are a number of different grades of stainless steel, and a wide range of stainless steel finishes available. Determining which one should be applied depends on the type of steel and the specific needs and requirements of the product. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the basics of stainless steel finishing

Different types of stainless steel finishes

The two primary categories of stainless steel finishes that we do at Highland Machine are mill and brushed.

Mill stainless steel finishes – Mill finishes are usually the starting point for all stainless steel products. They are typically applied by ‘cold rolling’ the steel through special rolls or dies, then softened and descaled in an acid solution and given a final pass on polished rolls. These types of finishes deliver a matte surface that is suitable for industrial applications where appearance isn’t the top priority or when further polishing or finishing is planned.

Common applications of mill stainless steel finishes:

  • Industrial – equipment used in chemical plants, paper mills, sewage processing operations, and more similar facilities.
  • Laundry and dry cleaning equipment
  • Refrigeration
  • Pharmaceutical equipment

Brushed – Brushed stainless steel finishes are applied using abrasive materials that cut the metal’s surface. There are multiple types of brushed and polished finishes available that use different substrates, brushes, belts, and polishing methods. Although some techniques will produce more reflective surfaces than others, all will deliver some degree of reflectiveness and a uniform, polished result with paralleled or patterned lines. This method is most often used for buildings, art, or other objects where appearance is important.

Common applications of brushed stainless steel finishes:

  • Home appliances
  • Automotive design
  • Architecture
  • Jewelry and watches

What type of finish is right for your stainless steel products?

The best finish for your particular stainless steel products will depend largely on your specific needs and requirements. Matte finishes are suitable for industrial uses that do not require smooth surface finishes. Highly reflective polished finishes are better suited for aesthetic and ornamental applications.

At Highland Machine, we handle your stainless steel manufacturing project from beginning to end. We’ll complete the fabrication or machining and then work with you to determine the right stainless steel finishing option for your specific products, based on its application and requirements. Plus, we have the skills required to hide all the weld marks, giving your final product a polished and cohesive look.

If you want a high quality finish on your next stainless steel project, contact our team and tell us about the job today!

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