Though wires vary, the diameter of individual filaments is generally less than 0.375inches. The cross section of stainless steel wire is most often round, though flat and otherwise shaped wires are available as well.
Uses for stainless steel wires are incredibly diverse ranging from medical and dental tooling and apparatus to structural supports for construction and marine industries. Stainless steel wire is particularly well suited to such applications and others due to its hygienic, corrosion resistant, wear resistant and heat resistant qualities.
The high ductility, formability, weight to strength ratio and hardness of stainless steel alloys are also desirable traits of these filaments which may be used as such or combined through weaving, welding, twisting, braiding and more be made into complex products such as baskets, shelving or wire rope.
Along with the properties of a given stainless steel grade, the physical dimensions such as outer diameter, overall thickness or gauge, length and weight should be considered with regard for the final use of a rope to avoid potentially costly mechanical failure or inadequate performance. Steel service centers, wire rope manufacturers and other professionals should be consulted if uncertainty persists.
Rather than one specific steel alloy, stainless steel is a group of alloys whose compositions are primarily iron ore, but contain a minimum of 10% chromium. While other materials such as carbon, nickel, molybdenum, silicone and aluminum are present in various combinations, it is the chromium which gives the metals their name-sake non-staining, corrosion and wear resistant properties.
The chromium forms a protective layer of chromium oxide which provides the above characteristics. To create wires the alloyed material is first heated and then cast or otherwise formed into billets, ingots, rods or other stock shapes. One end of this form is then made narrower by hammering, filing, rolling or swaging so it will fit into a die. The pre-form for the wire is then pulled through the die, an action which decreases the overall diameter while increasing the length.
For thicker wire one die may be needed, but more often the strand is passed through a series of progressively smaller dies until the desired diameter and length are reached. Alternative processes such as extrusion, rolling or stamping may also be used in wire forming, though drawing is the most common among stainless steel wire manufacturers. Secondary treatments such as painting, annealing, coating and more are often made available to heighten the versatility of stainless steel wire both in terms of aesthetics and physical properties.