Types & Grades of Steel
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Steel is an extremely diverse metal. There are many different grades, types, and processes for steel that change its properties. Essentially there are four main types of steel. The four types can be remembered with the acronym CAST: Carbon Steel, Alloy Steel, Stainless Steel, Tool Steel. Additionally, we have to production finishes that we organize by as well: Hot Roll and Cold Roll.
Choosing The Right Steel
Carbon steel is made up of a combination of iron and carbon. It is strong, durable, and commonly used in construction and manufacturing because of its ability to withstand high temperatures and pressure. Carbon steel is often used in things like buildings, bridges, and tools. There are different ranges of Carbon Steel, from Low Carbon (Mild Steel), to Ultra-High Carbon. Most of our inventory is Mild Steel or Medium Carbon steel, though we do have some High Carbon grades as well.
Popular Alloys Include: 1018, 1045, A36, & A513
Alloy steel is made by alloying iron with other elements like carbon, nickel, and chromium to create a stronger and more durable material. It has unique properties that can make it resistant to things like corrosion and heat. Alloy steel is commonly used in industries like construction and manufacturing, and can be found in things like airplanes, cars, and buildings.
Popular Alloys Include: 4130, 4340, 8620, & 9310
Stainless steel is made by alloying iron with other elements like chromium and nickel to make it resistant to rust and stains. It is strong, durable, and commonly used in things like kitchen appliances, medical instruments, and jewelry. Stainless steel is also easy to clean and maintain, making it a popular choice for many different applications.
Popular Alloys Include: 304, 316, 440C, & 17-4
Tool steel is made to be very hard and strong. It is used to make tools like hammers, drills, knifes, and saws, which need to be able to withstand a lot of wear and tear. Tool steel is also used to make molds and dies for manufacturing. It is often made by mixing iron with other metals like tungsten, molybdenum, and cobalt to give it the desired properties for different applications.
Popular Alloys Include: A2, W1, O1, D2, & S7
Mild steel, or low-carbon steel, is a widely used form of steel due to its affordability, versatility, and ease of fabrication. It possesses good strength and durability, making it suitable for various applications such as construction and manufacturing. Although it may have lower hardness and corrosion resistance compared to other steel grades, mild steel can be easily welded, formed, and machined, offering flexibility in design and construction.
Popular Alloys Include: 1018, A36, A1008, & 12L14
Weathering steel, also known as corten steel, is a type of steel alloy that develops a protective rust-like appearance when exposed to the elements. This unique characteristic is achieved through the addition of specific alloying elements, such as copper, phosphorus, and chromium, which enhance its corrosion resistance. Weathering steel is often used in outdoor structures, such as bridges and buildings, as it eliminates the need for painting and maintenance while providing a visually appealing, rustic appearance.
Maraging steel is a high-strength steel known for its exceptional toughness and strength. It contains specific alloying elements like nickel, cobalt, and molybdenum, which contribute to its impressive properties. Maraging steel is widely used in aerospace, defense, and high-performance engineering applications due to its superior strength, resistance to wear, and fatigue resistance.
Popular Alloys Include: 250 Round Bar, 300 Round Bar, and 350 Round Bar.
Cast iron is a type of iron alloy known for its high carbon content, typically ranging from 2% to 4%. It is produced by melting iron and adding carbon and other alloying elements before pouring it into molds to solidify. Cast iron is valued for its exceptional hardness, heat retention, and wear resistance, making it suitable for applications such as engine blocks, pipes, cookware, and architectural elements.
Wrought iron is a form of iron with a low carbon content, typically less than 0.08%. It is known for its distinctive fibrous appearance and superior malleability, allowing it to be easily shaped and hammered into intricate designs. Historically used in ornamental and architectural applications, wrought iron provides a combination of strength, beauty, and corrosion resistance, making it a favored material for gates, railings, and decorative elements.
Popular Shapes Include: Metal Art Components, Scrolls, & Snap Ons
Hot rolled steel is made by heating steel above its recrystallization temp & forming it into desired shape. Cold rolled steel is made by cooling the aforementioned hot rolled steel below its recrystallization temp & forming it into desired shape. Hot rolled steel is typically cheaper & has a rougher surface, while cold rolled steel is smoother & more precise.
Galvanized, Galvalume and Galvanneal are three types of coatings used to protect steel from corrosion. Galvanized is a coating of zinc applied to steel, while Galvalume is a combination of zinc, aluminum, and silicon applied to steel. Galvanneal is a coating of zinc-iron alloy applied to steel. Galvanized is the most common and least expensive, while Galvalume offers better corrosion resistance and Galvanneal provides superior paint adhesion.
Popular Alloys Include: A653 Galvanized, AZ55 Galvalume, A653 Galvalume
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