The Different Types of Steel in Manufacturing

Steel is in everyday things and surrounds us whether we’re aware of it or not. Items like kitchen appliances, construction equipment, tools, and electrical applications all use variations of steel. Understandably, it can be challenging to decide which steel is most suitable for a particular application. Here are the different types of steel in manufacturing.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is interesting because all steel contains carbon. But the unique feature of this steel is the noticeable absence of various other elements. There are three classifications for carbon steel: low, medium, and high. Each refers to the strength of the steel and its usability.

Low carbon steel is the most popular and least expensive. Things like wires, pipes, and bolts use low-carbon steel. Medium carbon is most suitable for railroad tracks and gears with higher durability and decreased ductility. Meanwhile, high carbon steel is best for brick nails or cutting tools like a trencher blade. Carbon steel can also undergo galvanization, which puts a zinc layer over it to protect against rust.

Stainless Steel

A core difference between stainless steel and galvanized steel is the former’s chromium elements, which give it its distinctive appeal. Stainless steel’s usability stretches beyond kitchen appliances and medical equipment manufacturing due to its variable strengths. Professionals also often use it in the construction industry due to its ability to resist corrosion. The variations of stainless steel and their respective sectors include:

  • Duplex alloys (seawater desalination systems)
  • Austenitic alloys (commercial kitchen appliances)
  • Martensitic alloys (cutlery, medical instruments, and pliers)
  • Ferritic alloys (automotive parts)

Alloy Steel

There are several different types of steel in manufacturing, but alloy steel serves common functions in both commercial and non-commercial settings. These specific steels allow customization in their applications and some carry hefty price tags. The most popularly used alloys include:

  • Aluminum alloy (power generators)
  • Copper alloy (electrical wiring)
  • Silicon alloy (electrical transformers)
  • Vanadium alloy (automotive springs and shocks)
  • Molybdenum alloy (oil and gas lines underwater)
  • Manganese alloy (bulletproof cabinetry and safes)

Now that you’ve learned about various types of steel, you can more readily identify them and decide which ones to use for your purposes.

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Written by Logan Voss

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