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Many believe that stainless is a variety of steel that was recently developed. However, the first authentic stainless steel was created in 1913. That product contained 0.24% carbon and 12.8% chromium. Developed by Harry Brearley, pursuant to a request by a small arms manufacturer to counter the erosive nature of cartridge discharge gases on internal rifle barrel bores, this new steel was designed to resist erosion, not necessarily corrosion.

It seems that Brearley, an Englishman who was financed by two Sheffield, England, steel firms, set up the Brown Firth Laboratories in 1908. Brearley had already gained a considerable reputation for solving metallurgical challenges. In the new lab he began to experiment with various steels containing chromium. Since this formulation had a higher melting point than run-of-the-mill carbon steel in use at that time, Brearley felt that the addition of chromium would also produce greater wear resistance and solve the erosion problem his small arms manufacturing client faced.

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Many believe that stainless is a variety of steel that was recently developed. However, the…