What are the different kinds of steel?

Did you know the process for mass-producing steel was first developed in the USA and England in the mid-1800s? While an American businessman-scientist named William Kelly worked on removing impurities in pig iron (crude iron used in steel production), an Englishman named Sir Henry Bessemer developed and patented the process. By the turn of the century, the “Bessemer Process” helped birth many steel mills across the USA.

Types of steel

The steel creation and fabrication processes have changed over the centuries, and the different kinds of steel produced has evolved with it. Today there are four main types of steel used in the construction, automotive, household products, tool, and related industries: stainless steel, carbon steel, tool steel, and alloy steel. 

1. Carbon Steel

The most commonly known type of steel is carbon steel. While all kinds of steel have carbon in them, carbon steel has an overall higher concentration of carbon. A close cousin of cast iron, it’s known for its durability and is less likely to break than other types of steel. Carbon steel is one of the most popular types of steel due to its low cost and widespread availability.

Good for: Small products like knives to large-scale items like bridges. 

2. Stainless Steel

Another widely used type of steel is stainless steel. Thanks to its widespread use in home appliances, stainless steel has become a household name.  The “stainless” part of the name is thanks to the addition of chromium alloy in the mix. It doesn’t just give this steel a pretty face, either. Its high-luster shine also makes it rust-proof and extra durable.

Good for: Everything from medical devices to mash tuns in brewing.

3. Tool Steel

Just like the name implies, tool steel is best suited for tool products. A high level of carbon content helps make this steel ideal for manufacturing machines and tools made for heavy usage. Tool steel goes through a tempering process, quickly heating and cooling and then repeating so it makes the steel stronger.

Good for: High-heat uses in forging and casting, along with other tool uses like power saws, drill bits, and riveting tools.

4. Alloy Steel

Alloy steel draws its strength from a wide variety of elements combined with steel. This could be from chromium, manganese, tungsten, nickel, or vanadium. Each of these additions to the base material offers different properties, from strength, heat resistance, corrosion resistance, and more. The beauty of alloy steel is it can be customized to the client’s needs for both residential, automotive, and industrial applications.

Good for: Airframes, race cars, bulletproof cabinets, and power generators. 

Find the right steel for the job

Every project is unique, so make sure you have the right steel for it. Contact Metal Works and we can supply you with the best match.

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