What is Stainless Steel?

Wikipedia describes stainless steel as:

inox steel or inox from French “inoxydable“, is defined as a steel alloy with a minimum of 10.5% to 11% chromium content by mass.

Stainless steel does not readily corrode, rust or stain with water as ordinary steel does, but despite the name it is not fully stain-proof, most notably under low oxygen, high salinity, or poor circulation environments. It is also called corrosion-resistant steel or CRES when the alloy type and grade are not detailed, particularly in the aviation industry. There are different grades and surface finishes of stainless steel to suit the environment the alloy must endure. Stainless steel is used where both the properties of steel and resistance to corrosion are required.

What Makes Stainless Steel Resist Corrosion?

Chromium (the key element in stainless steels) in excess of about 10.5% forms a tenacious, refractory oxide protective film on any exposed layer, i.e. a corrosion barrier. This relatively impervious film is considered to be self-healing or self-restoring. It will, if broken, repair itself spontaneously upon re-exposure to an oxidizing agent such as air or nitric acid. Resistance to corrosive attack under specific  conditions is enhanced by progressively increasing chromium over 10.5% and/or by the addition of other elements such as nickel, molybdenum and copper.

Stainless steel tables are used in a wide variety of industries and applications, from kitchens to cleanrooms, but how do you know what type of stainless steel is best for you? Not all stainless steel is alike, or appropriate for every application. In this article, we’ll explore the different grades, styles, and appropriate applications of the two biggest stainless steel table lines we carry: Eagle Group and Metro. We also carry highly customizable cleanroom specific stainless tables, and affordable stainless steel wrapped tables, but we will touch on that later. Let start by learning what types of stainless steel is used in our Eagle and Metro tables.

Stainless Steel Grades

Starting with the lowest grade: 430 Stainless Steel

Grade 430 is a ferritic, straight chromium, non-hardenable grade, combining good corrosion resistance and formability characteristics with useful mechanical properties. Its ability to resist nitric acid attack permits its use in specific chemical applications but automotive trim and appliance components represents its largest fields of application.

Ferritic Stainless Steel (409, 430, 3CR12)
These are nickel free stainless steels. Varying chromium content of 12% to 18%, but a lower carbon content. They derive their name from the ferritic metallurgical structure which is stable at room temperature. When compared with austenitic stainless steels, ferritic stainless steels have the following features:
• Less expensive
• Lower corrosion resistance
• Can be welded, but requires more care
• Easily formed (bent, cut, etc.)
• Moderate high temperature [up to 800°C for 430
• Slight increases in strength by cold working (up to 50%)
• Superior resistance to stress corrosion cracking
• Is magnetic

Eagle’s Budget Grade Stainless Steel tables are crafted of 16 gauge 430 stainless steel and are recommended for industrial use. These tables are NOT appropriate for food service applications.

Metro does not offer stainless steel tables in this grade.

Recommended Applications:

  • Industrial
  • Warehousing
  • Garages
  • Anywhere (food standard) cleanliness and appearance is not a factor

The most popular grade: 304 Stainless Steel

Grade 304 is the standard “18/8” stainless; it is the most versatile and most widely used stainless steel, available in a wider range of products, forms and finishes than any other. It has excellent forming and welding characteristics. The balanced austenitic structure of Grade 304 enables it to be severely deep drawn without intermediate annealing, which has made this grade dominant in the manufacture of drawn stainless parts such as sinks, hollow-ware and saucepans.

Austenitic Stainless Steel (301, 304, 304L, 316, 316L 321, 310)
Basic composition of austenitic stainless steel is 18% chromium and 8% nickel. Austenitic grades are the most commonly used and accounts for more than 70% of production with type 304 the most common. The name comes from their stable metallurgical structure at room temperature, which is a single phase of austenitic.
Austenitic stainless steels have the following features:

• Can be strengthened by cold working (up to 4 times)
• Easily welded
• High ductility
• Good corrosion resistance
• Suitable for high temperatures to (e.g. 310 to 1100°C)
• Suitable for low temperatures (including cryogenic applications)
• Is non-magnetic

Our best selling Eagle tables are the Deluxe Grade Stainless Steel. They are crafted of 16 gauge 304 stainless steel and are recommended for food service/kitchen use. Eagle also offers a line of tables called “Spec-Master”. Spec-Master tables are crafted of the same 304 stainless steel that the deluxe is, but the Spec-Master is 10% thicker, 14 gauge, making it even stronger and more durable than Deluxe.

Every Metro Stainless Steel table we offer is crafted of 14 gauge stainless steel, built for durability and strength. In fact most of the table styles we offer come with a 304 Stainless Steel surface, including our cleanroom options.

Recommended Applications:

  • Kitchens
  • Cafeterias
  • Laboratories
  • Anywhere food is handled or cleanliness is a factor

Stainless Steel Surface Finishes

There are quite a few types of stainless steel finishes:

  • No. 0: Hot rolled, annealed, thicker plates
  • No. 1: Hot rolled, annealed and passivated
  • No. 2D: Cold rolled, annealed, pickled and passivated
  • No. 2B: Same as above with additional pass-through highly polished rollers
  • No. 2BA: Bright annealed (BA or 2R) same as above then bright annealed under oxygen-free atmospheric condition
  • No. 3: Coarse abrasive finish applied mechanically
  • No. 4: Brushed finish
  • No. 5: Satin finish
  • No. 6: Matte finish (brushed but smoother than #4)
  • No. 7: Reflective finish
  • No. 8: Mirror finish
  • No. 9: Bead blast finish
  • No. 10: Heat colored finish-wide range of electropolished and heat colored surfaces

While a mirror or reflective finish may be suitable or preferred to some people, a highly polished, smooth finish allows the worksurface to quickly show smears, smudges, fingerprints, and scratches. The vast majority of the stainless steel tables we offer have a more common “brushed finish”, a brushed finish dulls the surface slightly through the use of an abrasive, which can help hide minor imperfections such as scratches and help retain appearances by masking streaks and fingerprints.

The other stainless steel finish we offer is an electropolished finish. This type of finish is most common in cleanroom applications because electropolish offers the advantages of removing metal from the surface producing a unidirectional pattern that is both stress and occlusion free, microscopically smooth, and often highly reflective. Another benefit to an electropolish finish is that bacteria cannot successfully multiply on a surface devoid of hydrogen. This makes electropolishing ideal for medical, pharmaceutical, semiconductor, and food-processing equipment and parts. The combination of no directional lines due to mechanical finishing, plus a surface relatively devoid of hydrogen, results in a hygienically clean surface where no bacteria or dirt can multiply or accumulate.

Stainless Steel Surface Styles

The surface styles that are offered with Eagle and Metro are fairly straight-forward, there are three distinct types.

  • Flat Top: The most common type of table. This style has a flat surface with no upturns, edges, or panels.
  • Upturned: Exclusive to Eagle tables, an upturned edge is smaller than a backsplash but still prevents some splashing and prevents items from rolling off the back side of the table.
  • Backsplash: Backsplashes help prevent liquid/food/other materials from hitting walls or other surfaces. taller than upturned options, helping to prevent more spills and splashes.
  • Perforated Surfaces: This type of surface is used almost exclusively in cleanroom settings. Having a perforated surface means less area for dirt, dust, and particulate to gather and adhere to, and allows more airflow which is essential for maintaining cleanroom class standards.

Stainless Steel Base Styles

All of our stainless steel tables have a four leg design (as opposed to a two leg cantilever design), unless they are exceptionally long (96″ or longer), then for durability and strength, a third set of legs are added to the middle section, creating a six leg table.

Both Eagle Group and Metro offer legs in either a Stainless Steel finish, for when cleanliness and appearance is paramount, or a less expensive but less attractive galvanized steel. Either option is durable, it really just depends on aesthetics and where your table will be used.

Eagle Group Base Options

Metro Base Options

Custom & Wrapped Stainless Steel Options

We’ve covered a lot of information! In the beginning of this post, we mentioned we carry fully customizable & electropolished tables, as well as an affordable wrapped stainless steel table option. Lets briefly touch on what those options are.

The custom cleanroom tables we offer are electropolished stainless steel, built to your exact measurements and specs. These tables are very expensive and offered for stringent cleanroom guidelines, custom cleanroom/lab builds, or other situations where construction and cleanliness simply cannot be met with another stock option. If this sounds like a situation you may be facing when choosing a stainless steel table, contact us at 888-903-0333 or [email protected]

The other stainless steel table option we offer is on the opposite side of the spectrum, the BenchPro wrapped stainless steel tables are a low cost option to a solid stainless steel table. BenchPro wrapped stainless steel tables are created by taking 18 gauge stainless steel sheets and wrapping them around a 1¼” piece of solid particleboard. These tables come with a painted steel base and are an excellent choice for situations where a stainless look is desired, but not required.

All Stainless Steel Table Options Available at Production Automation



CleanPro (Custom Options)

BenchPro (Wrapped Stainless Steel)

Contacting Production Automation

We want to make choosing and ordering the exact bench you want as easy and hassle-free as possible. Following the links above will take you to the exact pages those benches are listed on. We also have a REQUEST QUOTE form if you are not sure what to choose, would prefer shipping estimates before checking out, or need one for budgeting purposes. Simply fill out the information we need and one of our sales reps will email you a quote usually within one business day.

We can be contacted at 888-903-0333 during regular business hours, 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday, or by email at [email protected]