Did you know that steel dates back to ancient times? It has been used as a weapon, tool and building material for centuries. Steel is one of the most widely used materials in the world today because of its versatility and strength. There are four main types of steel- carbon steel, alloy steel, tool steel, and stainless steel. Each type has its own unique properties that make it suitable for different applications. Let’s talk about the differences between each type of steel and what they are used for.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is a main type of steel that is characterized by a matte-like appearance and is known to be susceptible to corrosion. Because it has a tiny percentage of various alloying components, the name is derived from the fact that it is extremely robust. It is quite durable which is why you’ll find it in things like knives, high-tension cables, car parts, and more. 

Though it has a lower amount of carbon, carbon steel is often confused with cast iron. Cast iron contains between 2% to 3.5% carbon, making it more brittle and giving it a rougher texture. Carbon steel doesn’t have an alloy classification because of the lack of other alloying elements in its composition; however, this simplicity contributes to its popularity — accounting for approximately 90% of all steel production.

Alloy Steel

Alloy steel is a combination of several different metals including nickel, copper, and aluminum. Alloy steel is more affordable and resistant to corrosion. This steel is used for vehicle parts, pipelines, ship hulls, and mechanical projects. The strength of alloy steel is determined by the mix of elements that make it up. 

The steel used in shipping containers is a tough alloy made of various elements, one of which is silicon. You might not think of silicon as being part of steel, but it’s magnetic properties make it essential for big machines. Aluminum is also versatile and often used to create strong yet lightweight building materials.

Tool Steel

Tool steel is well-known for its toughness and both heat and scraping resistance. The name comes from the fact that they are used to make tools such as hammers. They’re composed of cobalt, molybdenum, and tungsten, which is why tool steel has such high durability and heat resistance capabilities.

There are many different types of tool steel, all of which serve a different purpose. These types include air-hardening, water-hardening, oil-hardening, high-speed, hot-working, and shock-resistant.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is recognized for durability. The most important component is chromium which creates shine. Stainless steel chrome is more resistant to corrosion and produces a higher gloss when polished, in comparison to other metals. Chrome plating is the process of electroplating chromium onto another metal, producing a strong and polished coating. This combination makes the steel resistant to rust and simple to shape. Stainless steel may be found in surgical instruments, at-home appliances, silverware, buildings’ exteriors, and exterior cladding. 

While carbon, alloy, tool, and stainless are four common types of steel, there are other steels including maraging steel and speciality steels. Each type of steel has its own unique properties that make it good for certain applications. Knowing the difference between each one can help you choose the right type for your project. Contact us today if you have any questions about our steel or choosing the type of steel that is right for you.

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