The specialists among the valves: Stainless steel valves take the limelight at Valve World Expo 2016 — With their unrivaled resistance against corrosion, stainless steel valves are the perfect choice for applications in the food and pharmaceutical industries. As this market rides on a seemingly never-ending growth curve, manufacturers and exhibitors at Valve World Expo have perfect reason for optimism.
Stainless steel valves have been an impressive success story in the last few years. “Current demand is very good. A lot is being invested worldwide in plant engineering for the pharmaceutical industry,” states Marco Becker, head of distribution marketing at valve and measuring solutions specialist Gemü. And this development continues: “Thanks to global health trends, a growing world population and industrialisation in emerging markets the trend will remain positive,” even though the sector can’t disconnect itself entirely from the global economy, adds Becker.
Stainless steel offers unrivaled qualities in terms of corrosion resistance, purity and longevity. The material owes its corrosion resistance to the formation of a passive coating on the surface. This tiny layer of metal oxides or hydrates with its high chrome content serves as a coating that prevents the steel from coming into direct contact with aggressive media.
Should the passive layer be damaged, a new one forms itself most of the time — the material is self-healing, so to speak. To ensure these properties case, stainless steels have a chrome content of at least twelve percent and a carbon content of no more than 0.12 percent. Adding molybdenum, for instance, again increases resistance.
Safe, Steril and Easy to Handle
Stainless steels are not only corrosion resistant and hygienic, but also wear-resistant, low-maintenance, long-lived, durable, weldable and temperature-resistant, making the sought-after materials for sterile and hygienic applications: In the pharmaceutical, food and biotech industries “the focus is on sterility, aseptic handling and safety,” explains Becker. Further, the surfaces of stainless steel valves can be processed very well, making it possible to produce a precisely defined surface. This allows “a stainless steel valve or tubing made from stainless steel to be cleaned and sterilised very easily”.
Customers from pharma and food industries rely on industry grade V2A steel with material numbers 1.4301 and 1.4305. Especially the rustproof 1.4301 steel — also called AISI 304 — with its chromium-nickel-alloy is well suited for high teperatures up to 600 °C.
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