Steel is one of the materials that can be formed in the iron production process. A type of iron itself, steel has been more refined to remove impurities and has a higher concentration of carbon. This gives steel a higher strength than iron. But many steel manufacturers will add in additional elements or adjust the amounts of carbon to create a wide variety of steels with varying properties. In fact, there are over 3,500 grades of steel that may be offered by a Detroit steel supplier. For the most part, steel types can be placed into four broad categories of carbon, alloy, stainless, and tool or high-speed steels.
Iron occurs from smelting iron ore to remove impurities. Steel has been further melted and refined to create an even purer substance. But the carbon content also sets steel apart from iron. In its basic form, steel can be referred to as carbon steel, which contains only trace amounts of other elements. This is a very widely used steel type, with about 90% of steel production being for carbon steels. But this group can be further categorized into low-, medium-, and high-carbon steels. Low-carbon steels tend to contain less than .3% carbon content, while medium-carbon steels tend to contain between .3% and .6% carbon content, and high-carbon steels allow a carbon content of .6% or more. Though the carbon content can affect what they are best used for, many carbon steels are put to use as cutting tools, sheet meals, structures, and even as a replacement for wrought-iron.
Alloy steels are carbon steels that have the addition of other elements to acquire certain desired properties. Common alloy elements can include nickel, titanium, copper, chromium, aluminum, silicon, and manganese. The added metals can make the steel more durable, easier to weld, corrosion resistant, stronger, more ductile, and more. Alloy steels are gaining in popularity for a number of purposes, such as for pipelines, motors, automobile parts, generators, jewelry, silverware, and even countertops.
Stainless and Tool Steels
The categories of stainless steels are actually types of alloy steels. Stainless steels have had certain elements added in order to make the steel more resistant to corrosion damage, such as chromium. This can make the steel a good choice for such things as piping, kitchen utensils, cutting tools, dental equipment, surgical equipment, and more. Stainless steel can further be broken up into three more categories depending on whether or not it is magnetic or heat-treatable. Austenitic stainless steels are neither magnetic nor heat-treatable, while martensitic stainless steels are both. Ferritic stainless steels are magnetic, but are not heat-treatable.
Tool steels, which include steels also referred to as high-speed steels offered by your Detroit steel supplier, contain elements to increase the durability of the steel as well as its resistance to heat. Alloys like cobalt, tungsten, chromium, molybdenum, and vanadium are often used for these purposes. As a result, the steel becomes a good choice for drilling and cutting equipment, as well as airplane and automobile parts, and more.