Steel is a common material for many electrical and mechanical applications. From kitchen appliances to tools to heavy construction equipment, you can use steel in various ways to create durable, long-lasting products.
Steel, an iron alloy, mainly consists of iron and one or more alloying metals added to impart the final product with different properties. Many subgroups of steel serve various purposes, and the material's properties can change depending on the heating and cooling methods and the elements that create the metal. There are four main types of steel. Learn more about them below.
Carbon steel is a durable material containing carbon and iron. This metal is categorized according to its carbon content.
Low carbon steel is the most common type on the market. This material is often inexpensive, and you can easily form it for applications where tensile strength is not a primary concern, like structural beams. You can also improve low carbon steel's properties by adding other elements. This material is common in applications like piping, machinery, wires, bolts, structural components and stampings.
Medium carbon steel offers strength but has low ductility and toughness. These properties make welding and forming medium carbon steel more challenging than low carbon steel. This material is suitable for applications like railway tracks, gears, machinery parts and pressure structures.
High carbon steel is ideal when you're looking for toughness and hardness. This material is difficult to cut, form or weld, but it's useful for a variety of applications demanding extreme hardness. For example, you can use high-carbon steel for railways, spring steel, plates and bars.
Stainless steel features nickel, chromium and other metals to give it additional characteristics like corrosion resistance. This steel has a well-known role in manufacturing appliances and medical equipment. Stainless steel includes chromium, which gives it its characteristic shiny appearance and ability to resist rust. The more chromium in the metal, the higher the gloss will appear when you polish it. Higher chromium amounts will also equate to greater corrosion resistance.
There are several subcategories of stainless steel to know:
This category of steel is incredibly diverse because it encompasses steels combined with various elements to create unique products. The most common alloy steels include chromium, nickel, vanadium, copper, molybdenum, cobalt and tungsten. Manufacturers also produce steel alloyed with silicon for its magnetic properties, creating a material that's ideal for large machinery. Depending on the properties your project demands, you can find a range of alloy steels to suit your needs.
The tool steel category includes high carbon steels that are perfect for creating manufacturing tools. Cutting tools, drills and saw blades are all examples of tool steel in action. There are six types of tool steel:
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