What counts for chrome steel?

What exactly is meant by chrome steel, and in which steel groups you can classify chromium steel, you will find in detail in this article. In addition, which properties chrome steels have in common, and in which points they differ.

Designation chrome steel

Chromium steel is not a technical but a colloquial name for a whole group of steels. Technically, chromium steels are referred to as all those steels which have a maximum carbon content of 1.2% and whose chromium content is more than 12%. Depending on other alloy constituents, however, another name may also apply.

For example, chromium steels can also be distinguished from chromium-nickel steels. They are steels which, in addition to chromium, also contain nickel in the alloy. For many steels, molybdenum is added to improve the properties.

Surgical steel

The steel grade known as Surgical Steel, for example, has a chromium content of 16.5-18.5% added to the alloy, as well as 10 - 13% nickel, making Surgical Steel a clear chrome-nickel steel, but seldom in this group classified, but mostly attributed to the "stainless steels".

Stainless steels

Chrome steels are in all cases stainless or at least rust-proof steels. This is because the high proportion of chromium in the alloy makes the steel corrosion-resistant, passable and, in most cases, acid-resistant. This also applies to chrome-nickel steels.

stainless steels

Even with the term stainless steel, the colloquial definition differs from the technical one. In everyday use, stainless steels must always be stainless - but from a technical point of view the high degree of purity of the steel is of importance for the classification, rust safety is technically not a classification criterion. Since a steel is always refined by the addition of the more noble metal chromium, chromium steels are always to be regarded as stainless steels, if the required purity is reached. Some chromium steels, however, a higher sulfur content is added to improve the properties, so these steels are again not considered as stainless steel, but for example as free cutting steel.


Chromium steels can form both ferritic and austenitic microstructures. This has a significant impact on their properties. Ferritic microstructures are, for example, magnetic, while austenitic microstructures are usually not magnetic.

Tips & Tricks

Even the well-known "Nirosta" is a chrome steel. Its name actually has the property "never to rust".

Video Board: DIY Chrome Kit