Austenitic stainless steels are an extraordinary family of alloys that have exceptional corrosion resistance and equally impressive mechanical properties. They have unsurpassed strength, toughness, and formability among the commercially viable alloys from cryogenic to elevated temperatures. They are also valued aesthetically and are environmentally benign. Although only about 10.5% chromium is required to render iron alloys stainless, austenitic stainless steels all contain at least 15% chromium with which nickel, manganese, carbon, and nitrogen are combined to stabilize the face centre cubic structure.
Known for their formability and resistance to corrosion, austenitic steels are the most widely used grade of stainless steel. While relatively soft and weak in their annealed condition, austenitic stainless steels can be strengthened by cold working, precipitation hardening or through the addition of nitrogen. They have good ductility and toughness, even the high-strength grades, and their most notable feature is that they are nonmagnetic.