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Spray test to determine grade of Stainless Steel

Q. We are looking for a spray to test the grades of SS. That is a spray which changes color after spraying on the Stainless steel bar depending upon the grade of the steel thus enabling to identify the grade.

Anyone heard of such a spray? If yes please provide details.

Pundit [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Steel - Saudi Arabia

A. Try any good chemlab or buy handheld XRF analyzer (electric spark systems are good too and much cheaper). Good luck!

Goran Budija
- Cerovski vrh Croatia

Q. Is there a chemical that can be applied to 416 stainless steel to differentiate it from 17-4 and 15-5 stainless steel?

Ralph FLow
Starsys - Morrisville, North Carolina

A. Pundit, I've never heard of a spray, but there are chemical spot test kits.

Ralph, 17-4 and 15-5 both contain nickel, which 416 lacks. The chemical spot test for nickel is all you would need.

lee gearhart
Lee Gearhart
metallurgist - E. Aurora, New York

A. Hi, Stainless steel testing kit is used to separate 200 series and 300 series. It can also separate 304 Series and 316 Series.

- Shahalam, Selangor, Malaysia
June 25, 2008

A. Hi, Pundit. Goran is correct that if you want to be able to clearly differentiate between the many different grades of stainless steel, a alloy sorter / scrap sorter [on eBay or Amazon] hand-held x-ray fluorescence instrument is the way to go. But they cost about $25 - $30 thousand U.S.

As Lee and Prakash note, Chemical spot tests are available, but they generally tend to be go/no-go for differentiating between two specific grades or classes; one test might determine if the sample contains nickel, another test might determine if it contains molybdenum, etc. So chemical testing, like spark testing and magnet testing, is good to sort between two known grades, but is perhaps not a practical way to learn which of a hundred different grades an unknown sample is.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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