January 1, 2009

Alessi uses two types of 18/10 stainless steel (the number refers to the chromium-to-nickel ratio): 2B, with a carbon content of 0.2 percent, is more malleable and less shiny than BA, which has 0.4 percent. The exterior is made of 2B, because the molded surfaces require more malleability. Inner components are made from BA.

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  A worker stops to examine his progress while working with a 9090 component on a buffing wheel. Natural light and a keen eye are crucial when polishing stainless steel to a high gloss.
    A worker stops to examine his progress while working with a 9090 component on a buffing wheel. Natural light and a keen eye are crucial when polishing stainless steel to a high gloss.
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  Smaller components of the 9090, for which wheel-type polishing is inefficient, are pulled from a vat. The machine contains gentle abrasives that slowly smooth the rough surfaces of the metal pieces.
    Smaller components of the 9090, for which wheel-type polishing is inefficient, are pulled from a vat. The machine contains gentle abrasives that slowly smooth the rough surfaces of the metal pieces.
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alessi caffetiere buffing
A worker stops to examine his progress while working with a 9090 component on a buffing wheel. Natural light and a keen eye are crucial when polishing stainless steel to a high gloss.

A series of sandblasting, polishing, and buffing techniques transform the surfaces from crudely industrial to kitchen-ready. In a room of craftsmen, motorized wheels spin brushes, against which gloved hands hold pieces firmly in place. On rough bristles and then fluffy buff materials, each piece goes from hazy to gleaming. Making stainless steel shine like silver has been crucial to Alessi since its 1921 beginnings, when silver still defined table setting.

Components too small for wheel-type polishers are placed in vats of gentle abrasives—including nutshells and corn–that jiggle for 6 to 18 hours. The abrasives turn black, coated in steel dust; the components come out with their burred edges softened.

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