Steel is an alloy that contains up to 2% of carbon, the most important commercial component of steel. There are many types and classification of steel – some look at its chemical composition, steels are grouped into the most frequently used types of steel – the plain carbon steel, low-alloy steel, and high-allow steel. This blog aims to explain and breakdown the differences and common uses of each steel.
Plain Carbon Steel
Plain Carbon Steel is the world’s most used and produced steel. It is an iron that is made-up of less than one percent carbon with a few amounts of manganese and silicon from the deoxidation procedure conducted in the ladle. Plain carbon steel is grouped into Low-Carbon Steel with lower than 0.30% carbon, Medium-Carbon Steel with 0.30 to 0.45% carbon, High-Carbon Steel with 0.45 to 0.75% carbon, and Ultra-High Carbon Steel that contains up to 1.50% carbon.
Low-carbon steel has low tensile strength but it has high malleability and ductility. It is commonly used in the production of metal sheets, pipes, chains, box, wires, cases, rivets, vehicle frames and many more.
Increased carbon indicates greater resistance and tensile strength, reduced ductility, and less malleable. As a result of its durability, this class is mostly used for gears, axles, crankshafts, couplings, forgings, machinery parts, railways, and structural steel.
High-carbon steel is classified as a strong, brittle, and hard steel. It is being utilized for high strength wires and springs, and a practical material for producing shock-absorbing
Ultra-high Carbon Steel
Ultra-high carbon steel is known to have great strength and good tensile ductility. It is utilized in manufacturing non-industrial equipment such as knives, axles or punches.
Low-Alloy Steel contains up to 8% of alloying elements composed of carbon, manganese, silicon, aluminium, nickel, chromium, cobalt, molybdenum, vanadium, tungsten, titanium, niobium, zirconium, nitrogen, sulphur, copper, boron, lead, tellurium and selenium. The alloy was made to increase its durability and toughness after the heat treatment. Low-alloy steel is used for the production of pipes, round bar, rectangular bar, flat bar, square bar, round tube, steel plates, railways and other structural engineering plates.
High-alloy steel has chromium that allows the material to exhibits resistance to corrosion because of its formation of a thin layer of chromium oxide on the surface and high nickel content. Stainless steel is a high-allow steel that contains at least 12% chromium. There are three basic types of stainless steel, the austenitic, ferritic and martensitic.
This type of stainless steel provides excellent weldability but is not stable at room temperature, hence, alloys such as nickel, manganese and carbon are added to stabilize the material. This is commonly used in chemical and food processing and kitchen equipment such as cookware and cutlery.
Ferritic stainless steel has 12-17% chromium content, up to 0.1% carbon, and with small amounts of aluminium, molybdenum and titanium. This type of stainless steel is known for its tough, strong, and magnetic characteristics. It is utilized in solar heaters, low-cost production kitchenware and car-exhaust systems.
Martensitic steels contain 11.5 to 18% chromium and 1.2% carbon. This type of steel is not only receptive to heat treatments but also contains magnetic properties. It is uses in dental and surgical instruments, knives, blades, and other cutting tools.
Other Types of Alloy Steel
Aside from plain carbon steel, low-alloy steel, and high-alloy steel, there are several other kinds of steel alloy that is also widely used in the market – Nickel, Manganese, Molybdenum, Tungsten, Silicon, Vanadium, and Chromium-Vanadium Steel.
This type of steel is generally the most used steel alloy in the world. It contains 3.5% of nickel and 0.35% carbon. Nickel Steel is known for the strength of its structural steel without its ductility. Once nickel is added, it increases the toughness of the material which helps resist the damages that may be caused by high impact loads and shocks. Aside from this, another benefit of nickel is it decreased the critical temperature making the steel adaptive to any kind of heat treatment process.
Manganese steel contains 11-14% of manganese which is used in manufacturing of complex railways tracks due to its outstanding hardening characteristic and wear resistance. Other application of manganese are shovel buckets, shot blast cabinets, scrapers, anti-drill security and many more.
Molybdenum is an important alloying agent for steel since it improves the steel’s toughness, weldability, and corrosion resistance. This makes it excellent to use in structural steel, marine environment applications, oil and gas pipelines, and ball bearings.
Tungsten steel, also known as wolfram, is primarily made up of silver metal that possesses the highest melting point among other metal types. It can withstand high temperature and it is resistant to corrosion and wear. It is used to fabricate rocket engine nozzles and if tungsten is combined with cobalt, nickel and iron, it can produce turbine blades, and other tools that are high heat resistant.
Silicon steel is the most important material used when it comes to magnetic force. Its notable properties are saturation, reduction, resistivity, magnetostriction, and magneto-crystalline anisotropy. With 1-2% addition of silicon, the steel is mostly utilized to make permanent magnets.
This type of steel is known for its corrosion-resistant characteristic and its capability to absorb shocks. It is being used for chemical-carrying pipes, tubes, and in the form of a fine layer to affix titanium to steel for aerospace and automobile applications.
Chromium-Vanadium Steel utilizes both chromium and vanadium properties that makes it extremely high tensile strength which can be easily cut but is not brittle. It is commonly utilized in gears, axles, connecting rods, automotive frames and many more.
Types of Alloy Steel
Application and Uses
Known for the strength of its structural steel without its ductility
Heavy forgings, turbine blades, bolts, nuts, bearings and many more
Known for its outstanding hardening characteristic and wear
Manufacturing of railway tracks
Known for its toughness, weldability, and corrosion resistance
Oil and gas pipelines, and ball bearings
Known for its ability to withstand high temperature and its
Rocket engine nozzles, turbines blades, and many more
Known for its magnetic force
Known for its ability to absorb shock and corrosion resistance
Aerospace and automobile
Known for its high tensile strength but it can still be cut easily
Gears, axles, connecting rods, automotive frames and many more
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