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Martensitic Stainless Steel: A Quick Look

by Jun 24, 2019News

There is no shortage of stainless steel alloys. In fact, the number of alloys existing on the market today reaches the triple digits.

While each of these alloys has its own separate set of characteristics, metallurgists try to group similar alloys together in order to make them easier to understand. They’re separated into 5 separate classes, in particular, which includes the austenitic, ferritic, martensitic, duplex, and precipitation-hardening classes.

In this particular blog post, we’re going to discuss the martensitic steels, like alloy 410 and 446-2, specifically, focusing in on their history, their characteristics, and their uses. Let’s get started.

The History of Martensitic Stainless Steel

The conception of martensitic stainless steel came about in 1890, as German microscopist Adolf Martens became the first person ever to observe the body-centered tetragonal martensite microstructure. This microstructure is the basis of martensitic stainless steels and was key to its development.

From the time the observation of this microstructure occurred, the development of martensitic stainless steels increased rapidly. Metallurgists experimented with a range of metal mixtures, working until the viable alloys were created.

The first viable martensitic stainless steel was devised in the United States by an inventor named Elwood Haynes in 1912. However, in that same year, an English metallurgist named Harry Brearley devised a separate martensitic alloy while attempting to manufacture corrosion-resistant gun barrels.

From the 1910s on, martensitic stainless steels were seen as viable options in the manufacture of a variety of different components.

Consistency of Martensitic Stainless Steel

Martensitic stainless steels are high in carbon and contain between 11.5% and 18% chromium. They typically contain small amounts of other metals so that their particular characteristics can be enhanced.

Characteristics of Martensitic Stainless Steel

Martensitic stainless steels are fairly versatile, demonstrating a range of different characteristics. The most prominent characteristics of martensitic stainless steels include the following.

Great for Heat Treating Purposes

When it comes to being heat treated for hardening purposes, no other class of stainless steel thrives more than the martensitic class. Martensitic stainless steels can be made exceptionally hard without incurring any cosmetic or functional damage.


While austenitic stainless steels are generally considered to be the most weldable stainless steels, martensitic stainless steels are fairly weldable as well. This makes them suitable for a number of manufacturing purposes.

Corrosion Resistant

Martensitic stainless steels possess some resistance to corrosion, but they are generally more vulnerable to corrosion than austenitic, ferritic, and duplex stainless steels. For this reason, they’re best kept out of highly corrosive environments.


Whereas some stainless steels are non-magnetic (austenitic stainless steels), most of them are magnetic. Martensitic stainless steels are on the magnetic side of the equation.


Where martensitic stainless steels truly thrive over the other classes of stainless steel is in their strength. Martensitic stainless steels can withstand a great deal of resistance, allowing them to thrive in high-impact conditions. This is true regardless of whether or not they’ve been heat treated.

Uses of Martensitic Stainless Steels

Martensitic stainless steels are used in a variety of components, including but not limited to aircraft components, bearings, molds, and fasteners. They’re also commonly used in cutlery, scissors, and dental instruments.

Looking to Buy Martensitic (alloy 410 or 446-2) Stainless Steel Items?

Do you have a need for stainless steel items? If so, Great Plains Stainless is the company to call. As one of the world’s premier distributors of stainless steel pipes, bars, fittings, and more, we’re capable of accommodating a variety of stainless steel needs.

Regardless of the class or alloy of steel that you need, we can accommodate you. Our team would be happy to help.

Contact us today to discuss your needs!