Three Types of Steel You’ll Find in the Steel Industry
Steel is used every day in a vast range of applications, from infrastructure to decoration. The various uses for steel each require a certain type, which means not just any steel will be the right metal for the job. Understanding the various types of steel and their subtypes can help you determine what you need for any given project or build. And, while we may not always have all of these steel types in stock, we can find them for you whenever you need them.
This may seem like a redundant steel category, since all steel is an alloy of some kind. However, there are different types of elements that can be mixed with iron to make steel. The various elements added to iron produce different properties. The addition of manganese, silicon, nickel, titanium, copper, chromium, and aluminum can increase steel’s weldability, strength, malleability, and corrosion resistance. The various alloys that can be created then make possible auto parts, marine machinery, pipelines, and electric components, like generators and transformers. Alloy steels can also be used to create specific tools according to the type of element added. With tungsten, molybdenum, cobalt, and vanadium in varying quantities, steel can increase in heat resistance and strength in order to use them as tools for cutting and drilling.
The most common element in steel alloy is carbon, accounting for more than 90% of steel production, but even that can change in content to provide different steel types. Mild steel, or low-carbon steel, consists of up to .3% carbon. This type of steel is used in a huge variety of applications, including buildings and bridges, cars, fencing, nails, and even cookware. Mild steel is also used for aesthetic purposes, like fencing and decorations. Medium-carbon steel contains .3% to .6% carbon. This type of steel is often used for making shafts and axles, gears, crankshafts, railways, and railway wheels. High-carbon steel contains more than .6% carbon and is extremely hard and resistant to wear. This type of steel is perfect for knives and other cutting tools that must maintain a sharp edge, or masonry nails that are tough enough to drive into concrete or brick without bending.
With the addition of up to 20% chromium as the main alloying element, steel becomes highly resistant to corrosion. That makes a beautiful finish that is often used for decorative elements, particularly those on appliances, building décor, roofing, and automobile bodies. However, that non-corrosive characteristic is also very useful in the manufacturing of kitchen utensils and cookware, and surgical instruments and implants. Repeated and prolonged exposure to moisture will not corrode or dull this type of steel so those scalpels and chefs’ knives will provide years of service. At Texas Iron and Metal, we’re proud to always offer a vast selection of steel. Come check out our inventory, download our stock book, or just ask us for a quote.