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How to get Dull Grey Surface on Stainless Steel



Q. I am project engineer for a french rail rolling stock company. I have a new requirement for us about the finishing of our train door. The stainless steel skin required by our customer has to be "dull finish".
We want to know what is a dull finish, and how do we obtain this finish?

Thanks in advance.

transport - Tours, FRANCE


A. Dull is whatever your customer thinks that it is. One way to obtain it might be to abrasive blast it with a fine mesh carbide.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


A. 'Dull finish' is too vague. Possibilities: purchase stainless steel sheet of desired mill finish, or abrasive blast, or wire brush or chemically etch. See 'Guide to Stainless Steel Finishes' available (in 9 languages) from The European Stainless Steel Development Association, at

Ken Vlach
- Goleta, California  

Ken received a special
"Contributor of the Year" award
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helpful and well researched responses


Q. I am a manufacturer of surgical instruments. Kindly tell me how to get a dull, non reflective greyish, smooth finish on stainless steel instruments. Would dull finish increase the chances of rusting?

Rekha Ramna
medical & surgical equipment - Chennai, India


A. Our company fills a similar need to the dental industry. The parts are required to be non-reflective and smooth. We apply TiAlN PVD coating on the parts. There might be another method; if you do not need the smoothness, vapor blasting the part will dull any stainless to gray.

Blair Woodring
- East Petersburg, Pennsylvania, USA


A. Surgical instruments should be highly polished first, this increases the stainless ability to form a cohesive passive layer. Then bead blasted with very very very fine beads, lightly. Using no more than 60 PSI pressure dry air. The beads, if applied in this way will not abrade the passive oxide layer but simply indent it. Remember that you only need to scatter the light. Using this process should result in a nice luster.

Raphael Perez
- Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Q. We would like to know the procedure to obtain a dull grey surface on fabricated stainless steel boxes. Our requirement is the surface should have dull finish and should not create any impressions on the surface while physically handling.

batteries - Trichy, Tamilnadu, India


A. Hi, Sowmiyanarayanan. Glass bead blasting will probably do that. It's pretty good at hiding fingerprints. Good luck.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. Depending on the size and volume of yours parts, another possible alternative is to tumble in a dry organic abrasive mix.

AF Kenton
Nova Finishing Sytems Inc. - Hatboro, Pennsylvania


A. Stainless Steel sheets are available with this finish. However you can sand blast your finished product to obtain desired finish.

There are various grits of sand available to achieve roughness.

Madol Ameria
- Delhi, India

Readers: for additional perspectives, please see the following very similar thread -- 15539. How to make stainless steel duller

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