STEEL ALLOY

STEEL ALLOY

Types of steel
There are thousands of different types of steels which are created to suit different kinds of applications. We generally use 4 types: carbon steel, tool steel, stainless steel and alloy steel. Carbon steels form the majority of steels produced in the world today. Tool steels are used to make machine parts, dies and tools. Stainless steels are used to make common household items. Alloy steels are made of iron, carbon and other elements such as vanadium, silicon, nickel, manganese, copper and chromium. 

Alloy steel
When other elements comprising metals and non-metals are added to carbon steel, alloy steel is formed. These alloy steels display various environmental, chemical and physical properties that can vary with the elements used to alloy. Here the proportion of alloying elements can provide different mechanical properties.

Alloying elements can alter carbon steel in several ways. Alloying can affect micro-structures, heat-treatment conditions and mechanical properties. Today’s technology with high-speed computers can foresee the properties and micro-structures of steel when it is cold-formed, heat treated, hot-rolled or alloyed. For instance, if properties such as high strength and weldability are required in steel for certain applications, then carbon steel alone will not serve the purpose because carbon’s inherent brittleness will make the weld brittle. The solution is to reduce carbon and add other elements such as manganese or nickel. This is one way of making high strength steel with required weldability.

Types of alloy steel
There are two kinds of alloy steel – low-alloy steel and high-alloy steel. As mentioned earlier, the composition and proportion of alloying elements determine the various properties of alloy steel. Low-alloy steels are the ones which have up to 8% alloying elements whereas high-alloy steels have more than 8% alloying elements.

Alloying elements
There are around 20 alloying elements that can be added to carbon steel to produce various grades of alloy steel. These provide different types of properties.

Some of the elements used and their effects include:

  • Aluminium– can rid steel of phosphorous, sulphur and oxygen
  • Copper– can increase corrosion resistance and harness
  • Manganese– can increase high-temperature strength, wear resistance, ductility and hardenability
  • Nickel– can increase corrosion, oxidation resistance and strength
  • Silicon– can increase magnetism and strength
  • Tungsten– can increase strength and hardness
  • Vanadium – can increase corrosion, shock resistance, strength and toughness.

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