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There is a lot of stainless steel. How to choose the best one?

Stainless steel, as a material used for producing tableware, have received a high popularity because of its simplicity, high wear resistance and adequate chemical inertness. However, the abundance of grades of stainless steel spurs manufacturers and sellers to promote the best brand. While the consumer is captured by the specific names and new legends, either the high quality of a particular steel, or of a low level of material and execution of dishes. To understand this question, we asked well-known expert on stainless utensils, a recognized expert in the field, commercial Director of group of companies “Belpromservis” Ilya Nikolayevich Petunov 
(I. P.). We believe that this topic will be interesting for many market participants, and in the future we will be able to receive the comments of other professionals which we will share with You, dear readers.

Interviewer: When it comes to stainless utensils, a lot is determined by the symbols 18/10. “Magic icon” removes all the questions. The standard consumer can’t find out the grade of steel by just looking at it and often poorly understand this abbreviation. How will you comment on the situation and what should the buyer (wholesale and retail) know to purchase stainless steel cookware? 
I. P.: 18/10 is a non-system (non-standard) designation of a group of austenitic (nonmagnetic) stainless steels embedded in the everyday life of marketers. In their view, this “fraction” is the percentage content of such alloying elements as chromium stainless steel (18%) and Nickel (10%). In fact, for the manufacture of utensils (especially tanks) can be used in a whole range of austenitic steels grades such as 201, 202, 304, 316 standard ASTM , NTK D11, etc. Moreover, the percentage of chromium and Nickel according to the standard ASTM (tolerance) is in a fairly wide range (about 2.5%). Therefore, even within the same steel grade, for example 304, the percentage content of Nickel can be in fact a little more than 8% (lower boundary of the tolerance percentage). That is, following the logic of this designation, such steel should be marked 18/8 and not 18/10 . Even more complicated is the situation with the designation of steel grades such as 201 and 202... All these brands have different costs, have different impact on material costs in the manufacture of utensils. They are different in the technological and consumer properties. Therefore it is better to focus on information about the specific material (steel grade) than the kind of conventional, in fact, little telling marking.

Interviewer: Can the food be stored in stainless steel cookware, especially in the fridge?
I. P.: Yes, in this aspect, there are no restrictions. Even if we are talking about Nickel-free steels of the type of stamps 430, from which made dishes of the trademark IKEA. Limitations prescribed by this manufacturer in its instructions, dictated not so much by the insecurity but  of much higher degree of latent defects of the inner surface, compared to tanks made, for example, from 304 steel grades. 

Interviewer: So many questions arise with the mounting knobs. Rivets, spot welding, diffusion welding. What is better for the consumer and why?
I. P.: Various methods of attachment of the handles have their advantages and disadvantages. The best way to handle fixing from the hygienic point of view is spot welding, because the handle is attached only to the outer side of the container. The inner surface of the capacity of the pan remains unchanged, easier to maintain and keep proper form. Riveting of handles is used, usually, in those cases where technologically difficult to weld the handle (the thin walls of the pan, the handle is made by casting or made of nevrilemmome material). Studs, usually made from aluminum, this is the main disadvantage of this method of fixing handles. With regular washing in a dishwasher these rivets begin to gradually deteriorate, which leads to backlash and micro cracks in a place of fastening.

Interviewer: Everyone accepts rather high quality of Russian stainless steel. However cookware made of stainless steel imported from Asian countries. What is the reason of it? And what stew are  we most often offered by manufacturers, placing an order in China?
I. P.: It is a paradox, but all the Russian dishes (VSMPO, “AMET,” , etc.) made of imported steel are usually Korean production. Chinese dishes are typically made of stainless steel produced there in China and with rare exceptions from other Southeast Asian countries. In China the dishes of different price and quality categories produced from different grades of steel. If we are talking about as it is called in China economy price range (brand name “Katun”, Peterhoff, Appetite, etc.), for example for 600 rubles., among this cookware is useless to look for pots made of steel 304... The vast majority of the dishes are made of steel grade 201. Dishes medium and medium + price segments conditionally from 1000 rubles and above, usually made of steel 30 (brand Rondell, Taller, etc.).

Interviewer: Do you think that the adjustment of release of utensils schemes OEM and ODM will provide the opportunity of not buying the same dishes abroad?
I. P.: Such production schemes by themselves involve the use of third-party manufacturers. In pan production (of aluminum) the position of domestic producers (in contrast to the manufacturers of cookware in stainless steel) are currently dominant, particularly in the category is made by casting. 
The development of domestic production of stainless steel is constrained by lack of domestic producers of raw materials (cold rolled thin sheet), the existing technological backwardness of production and its low competitiveness. So I wouldn’t say that we are going to dispense own pottery.

Interviewer: In your opinion, is coating stainless steel cookware non-stick compositions justified, because the lifetime of non-stick coating is significantly less than the lifetime of the pan stainless steel?
I. P.: In my personal opinion this class of ware is a technical misunderstanding. Given the fragility of the non-stick coating it is much wiser to use pots cheaper and more technologically advanced aluminum material. And stainless steel it is better to create the micro-relief of the surface, which significantly improves the nonstick properties of this material.

Interviewer: How do you assess the Russian market for stainless steel cookware? What changes will be made in the near future and expect manufacturers and suppliers of this dish?
I. P.: The Russian market of stainless steel is fully dependent on imports. The share of domestic producers is insignificant and does not exceed 50 thousand conditional containers per month. And it is unlikely that anything will change for the better in the foreseeable future. 

Interviewer: What information can be hidden by manufacturers of stainless steel cookware and how to get the seller to provide full information about realized the dishes?
I. P.: Because the Russian Federation doesn’t have at the moment current regulations that defines the scope and rules of submission of information to the consumer, each seller writes only what he thinks is right. So customers have to count on themselves or except that the seller, for the purpose of attracting attention to his products sold, will give complete and accurate information.

Interviewer: You have to handle cases of complaints of buyers of tableware brand “Kuhar” under warranty. What could you say about the causes of such complaints, how often they are caused by mishandling with the dishes?
I. P.: Yes, I personally for more than 15 years experience claims practice. The causes of complaints can be very different, but in most cases they are caused by inattentive acquaintance with the information contained in the instructions for the buyer. I take this opportunity to add that the manufacturer of cookware brand “Kuhar” provides warranty and post-warranty service of its dishes. Working with consumer complaints is a significant, essential part of the work of the manufacturer, which allows you to make the dishes more high-quality and full-featured.

Interviewer: Stainless steel products can last forever. To question their practicality is not necessary. However, the segment of nonstick cookware developed stronger today. Do you think this pattern will continue in the future?
I. P.: It is much associated with the development of new production technologies, inventions, introduction of new materials. Can also have a serious impact of new trends in fashion and design, and in addition popularization of certain cooking methods. Although, speaking purely for myself, I like the use of more reliable and durable materials, not polymer coatings.

After reading these comments, many cookware makers may not agree with the content of the interview. But to deny this information, it is necessary to have enough strong evidence of his innocence. Discussion between professionals is also interesting. Thought thrives on conflict, as it is said.

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