Diving into the world of global steel trading can be exhausting sometimes, we all know it! If you are a steel trader, you are certainly no stranger to finding yourself beset on all sides by head-twisting questions about where to buy steel, what type of steel to buy, how to find a trusted supplier and form reliable business relationships or how to go global in your steel trading business.
Worry no more. We have the answers you’ve been seeking!
Check out our guide below to better navigate in the world of steel!
Carbon steel is a steel with carbon content up to 2.1% by weight. As the carbon percentage content rises, steel has the ability to become harder and stronger through heat treating; however, it becomes less ductile. Regardless of the heat treatment, a higher carbon content reduces weldability. In carbon steels, the higher carbon content lowers the melting point.
Carbon steel is broken down into four classes based on carbon content
0.05 to 0.30% carbon content.
Approximately 0.3–0.8% carbon content.
Approximately 0.8–2.0% carbon content.
Approximately 3.25–4.0% carbon content. Steels that can be tempered to great hardness.
Carbon steel can be used in various fields for various purposes. While low-carbon steel is used for making fences, medium carbon steel with a medium amount of carbon used in it, is best suited and used for constructing bridges and buildings. The high carbon steel is mainly used for wires. Lastly, the ultra-high carbon steel which is also known as “Cast iron” is used in the making of pots and pans.
Alloy steels are made by combining carbon steel with one or several alloying elements, such as manganese, silicon, nickel, titanium, copper, chromium and aluminum. These metals are added to produce specific properties that are not found in regular carbon steel. The elements are added in varying proportions (or combinations) making the material take on different aspects such as increased hardness, increased corrosion resistance, increased strength, improved formability (ductility); the weldability can also change.
Alloying Elements & Their Effects
Stainless steel is an alloy of Iron with a minimum of 10.5% Chromium. Chromium produces a thin layer of oxide on the surface of the steel known as the ‘passive layer’. This prevents any further corrosion of the surface. Increasing the amount of Chromium gives an increased resistance to corrosion.
Stainless steels are notable for their corrosion resistance, which increases with increasing chromium content. Additions of molybdenum increase corrosion resistance in reducing acids and against pitting attack in chloride solutions. Thus, there are numerous grades of stainless steel with varying chromium and molybdenum contents to suit the environment the alloy must endure. Stainless steel’s resistance to corrosion and staining, low maintenance, and familiar lustre make it an ideal material for many applications where both the strength of steel and corrosion resistance are required.
Stainless steels are rolled into sheets, plates, bars, wire, and tubing to be used in cookware, cutlery, surgical instruments, major appliances and as construction material in large buildings, such as the Chrysler Building as well as, industrial equipment (for example, in paper mills, chemical plants, water treatment), and storage tanks and tankers for chemicals and food products (for example, chemical tankers and road tankers). Stainless steel’s corrosion resistance, the ease with which it can be steam cleaned and sterilized and no need for other surface coatings has also influenced its use in commercial kitchens and food processing plants.
Tool steel refers to a variety of carbon and alloy steels that are particularly well-suited to be made into tools. Their suitability comes from their distinctive hardness, resistance to abrasion and deformation, and their ability to hold a cutting edge at elevated temperatures.
With a carbon content between 0.5% and 1.5%, tool steels are manufactured under carefully controlled conditions to produce the required quality. There are six groups of tool steels: water-hardening, cold-work, shock-resistant, high-speed, hot-work, and special purpose. The choice of group to select depends on cost, working temperature, required surface hardness, strength, shock resistance, and toughness requirements. The more severe the service condition (higher temperature, abrasiveness, corrosiveness, loading), the higher the alloy content and consequent amount of carbides required for the tool steel.
Tool steel is used in the shaping of other materials, due to their distinctive hardness, resistance to abrasion and deformation, and their ability to hold a cutting edge at elevated temperatures.
Black steel is created through a mill process which involves rolling the steel at a high temperature (typically at a temperature over 1700° F), which is above the steel’s recrystallization temperature. When steel is above the recrystallization temperature, it can be shaped and formed easily, and the steel can be made in much larger sizes. Black steel is typically cheaper than bright drawn steel due to the fact that it is often manufactured without any delays in the process, and therefore the reheating of the steel is not required (as it is with bright drawn). When the steel cools off it will shrink slightly thus giving less control on the size and shape of the finished product when compared to bright drawn.
Black products like black steel bars are used in the welding and construction trades to make railroad tracks and I-beams, for example. Black steel is used in situations where precise shapes and tolerances are not required.
Galvanized steel is a type of steel that has been galvanized by the application of a zinc coating throughout its body so that it can be protected from corroding or rusting. Galvanized steel has a longer life and durability compared to non-galvanized steel. The application process of zinc on a steel structure is called “galvanization.”
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