Steel castings, forgings and extrusions are used in a number of different industries. As a durable and dependable material, steel is suitable for use in challenging environments that require high strength applications.
It allows for various heat treatment procedures that can improve its yield and tensile strength, as well as adjust its hardness and ductility for specific applications. It is also well known for its outstanding versatility that allows it to readily accommodate all types of shapes.
Steel remains lower in cost than most non-ferrous materials used for manufacturing and industrial purposes and comes in numerous alloys that display a wide variety of properties.
Types of Steel Alloys
There are different types of carbon steel on the marketplace today. Carbon steel, the most commonly used alloy, contains carbon as the major alloying element. Carbon exerts the strongest influence in determining the properties of a steel alloy, especially the hardness and strength levels of the material.
Typically, carbon steels fall into three distinct categories:
High carbon steel: High carbon steels possess a carbon range between 0.61% and 1.50%. These steels prove difficult to cut, bend or weld and may become brittle.
Medium carbon steel: Medium carbon steels typically display a carbon range of 0.31% to 0.60%, and a manganese content ranging from a low of .060% to a high of 1.65%. Much stronger than low carbon steel, medium carbon steel proves more difficult to form, weld and cut.
Low carbon steel: This category typically contains 0.04% to 0.30% of carbon content. It fits a variety of shapes, from flat sheets to structural steel beams. A steel mill may add other elements to low carbon steel to produce specific desired properties.
Steel can be alloyed with elements other than carbon to produce specific properties that are not found in regular carbon steel. Some of the most common alloying elements include:
These elements are added to steel in varying proportions and combinations in order to make the material take a wide array of different physical properties. This includes: increased hardness or strength, improved corrosion resistance, improved ductility, improved machinability, and better cutting ability. Steel alloys also allow manufacturers to gain more control over metal grain size, the speed of hardening, stability at high or low temperatures, and even durability (wear resistance).