Understanding the Different Grades and Types of Steel That Exist Today

stainless steel rods on a welding table

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Did you know that in 1987 the largest commercial steelmaking enterprise was in Japan and it produced 26 million tons of steel that year? If you are in the construction industry and are looking at the different types of steel but are a bit confused, you are in the right place. We put together this quick guide to share a bit more about the most common types to choose from. 

Keep reading to get familiar and help you pick the best one for your next project. 

1. Carbon Steel

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This type of steel is a metal alloy that has carbon and iron. Carbon steel usually has less than 0.4% copper and carbon steel is classified as either low, medium, or high. 

Low carbon steel has up to 0.30% carbon in it and it is the most common type of steel in the market today. One of the reasons it is so popular is because it is not as expensive as other steel options. It is also easier to form because it has a lower content of carbon, making it perfect for applications where tensile strength is not as important such as for 12 gauge thickness frames.

Medium carbon steel has between 0.31% to 0.60% carbon content. One of the main benefits of opting for the medium option is its strength. Keep in mind that this option is a lot more difficult to weld or form. 

High carbon steel has 0.61% – 1.50% carbon content. If you need heavy-duty steel then this is the way to go. Out of the three options, this is very difficult to cut, weld, or form. 

2. Stainless Steel

This type of steel has a minimum of 10.5% chromium content. Stainless steel also contains iron and carbon but the main component that gives it its unique properties is chromium. 

This has become a very popular type of steel because it protects the steel from becoming oxidized. Over time oxidation will degrade any type of metal and stainless steel is one of those that you won’t have to worry about oxidation as much. 

3. Alloy Steels

Alloy steels are a combination of alloying elements and carbon steel. There is a huge variety of alloy steels that allows you to create steels with almost every type of property using alloy elements. Some of the most common alloy steels are nickel, cobalt, tungsten, and chromium. 

4. Tooling Steels

These types of steel are used for tooling activities. Usually, tooling steels are made up of cobalt, vanadium, molybdenum, and tungsten. Tooling steels are strong, heat-resistant, and durable. 

Now You Know the Different Types of Steel 

We hope that now that we covered the most common types of steel above, you are ready to make an informed decision. Make sure that you do your research before buying from a specific company to make sure that they are reputable and will provide you with the best steel for your project. 

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