Stainless Steel Washers: Many Options And Benefits
Stainless steel washers are placed in between fasteners to add spacing, distribute force, and improve the reliability of the assembly where they’re installed. As they are made from stainless steel, they add many other benefits, which most often include corrosion resistance, a high-shine appearance, strength, and, depending on their grade, many other attributes.
Stainless steel washers are among the most commonly employed types of spacing devices. They are used in general-purpose household, commercial, and industrial capacities, as well as more specialized and critical placements required for aerospace, military, and heavy manufacturing.
While these washers are sometimes simply referred to as stainless steel washers, they actually include many different alloys and types. Some will offer specific performance capabilities and resistance levels that make them uniquely suited to an application, while others will satisfy broad criteria for a multipurpose spacing component.
Stainless steel washers are most often identified by their SAE steel grade number, which indicates the alloy from which the washers are stamped. Washers can be stamped from just about any type of stainless steel, however, most will fall into one of the following series:
Washers in the 300 series include those used for conventional applications, like 304 stainless steel washers, which are also known as 18/8 stainless steel washers. They are used in the fastening of hardware and joints that must be kept food-safe or maintain a clean, tarnish-free shine. The 300-series also includes many other popular grades used in more demanding applications, such as 316 and 316L stainless steel, the latter of which can be used in marine and similar applications because of superior corrosion resistance. If exceptional endurance is needed, alloy 20 stainless steel washers are among the better choices. Also called A20 stainless steel washers, they are among the toughest options in the 300-series.
Washers in the 400 series include those made from 410 and 430 stainless steel, which are used for many industrial purposes. They are notably wear-resistant. 430 stainless steel washers are often utilized on visual parts of an application because of their ability to hold a mirror-like shine. One of the most tarnish resistant options in this series is 440 stainless steel washers. Others, like 408 stainless steel washers, will not resist tarnishing or corrosion to the same degree, but they can offer other benefits, such as heat resistance.
Stainless steel is used to make washers of all types, including spring washers, lock washers, tag washers, and others. Stainless steel flat washers remain the most common type, as they are used for load distribution, spacing, stability, and material surface preservation.
Other types of washers will also serve such functions with added benefits. Stainless steel finish washers are one example. They distribute the load and support connections, while also contributing to a smoother, more esthetically pleasing appearance.
Stainless steel washers are available from many different sources. The more common types can be easily found from general hardware distributors. Notably enduring grades, or those made to meet non-standard and custom size or shape requirements, are best sourced from a stainless steel washer manufacturer.
Even if standard stainless washers are needed, sourcing directly from the manufacturer will carry valuable benefits. Such benefits include better traceability and assurances related to materials and production. Washer manufacturers will also typically offer a broader selection and access to custom and specialty parts at more competitive prices.