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Stainless steel wire for Automobile Applications

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Stainless Steel, a modern material in view of its attractive combination of mechanical and corrosion resistance properties, has found a large array of usages in the Automobile Industry, as to be expected in spite of its cost higher than regular steels. Stainless steel wire is used in very diverse applications, notably as follows:

  • Automobile fasteners: fasteners is a generic wording for a range of parts used to link or fasten in place several components of a vehicle: this covers bolts, nuts, washers and rivets usually cold headed from stainless steel wire rod or drawn wire. There is a large variety of grades used in automotive fasteners generally per ASTM A193.

Most prevalent are 302HQ, 304L, 316L, 410, 409Cb. Also 17-4 (grade 630) for restraint systems and for brakes.

Noteworthy the substantial use of high temperature “super stainless” A286 (grade 660) for exhaust manifold safety bolts: this very same grade is a common use in Aerospace applications. Also 409Cb bolts in exhaust line. 

  • Exhaust line: the development of use of stainless steel in car exhaust systems started in the USA and Germany in the 1980's with the catalytic converters, then spread out in all the Automotive Industries, with also usage in all components of the exhaust line from manifolds to tail pipes. The prevalent grade for pipes and converters shell is the low-grade 409 Ti; this has brought a large usage of grade 409Cb welding wire for the components of the exhaust line, as well as use of 409Cb large size wire for exhaust systems hangers. Some exhaust lines use ferritic grade 439 and hence the welding wire 439 Cb. There are significant other usages such as:
    • knitted mesh in exhaust line spacers, support matts, muffler packing
    • “silencer steel wool“: peeled from drawn wire in ferritic grade 434
  • Miscellaneous other automobile applications, as follows:
    • Air bag safety systems: knitted fine wire pads are used as filters to prevent damage of the air bag by residues of the explosive cartridge
    • Fine stainless wire braids as reinforcement/protection of fuel or brake hoses
    • Various stainless steel cables used in very diverse operative functions
    • Flat stainless steel wire for windshield wipers.

Thus, stainless steel wire is a widely used material, essential to Automobile safety, durability and performance.

Contributed by Philippe Maitrepierre – Doctor of Science (PhD) in Materials

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