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What type of alloy is steel? ABRAMS Industries® - every time well advised!

The material steel refers to all metallic alloys that contain at least 2 components. Its main component is iron (Fe) and the mass fraction of carbon (C) is smaller than 2.06 %. The alloys can be split in two groups, metallic and non-metallic alloys. Non-metallic alloys are for example carbon, silicon, phosphorus, or sulfur. Metallic alloys are for example chromium, nickel, molybdenum, or manganese.

What is alloyed and unalloyed steel?

Steel is divided in unalloyed steel, the so-called carbon steel, and alloyed steels.

Carbon steel can be alloyed with a varying carbon content which can result in a softer alloy like that of structural steel or a harder alloy like that of spring steel. The higher the carbon content in a steel grade the higher is the possible working hardness. At the same time the ductility will decrease.

Alloyed steels are grouped in low and high alloyed steelAlloyed steel compared to unalloyed steel contains alloying elements with a mass fraction between 1.0 % to approx. 5 %. With the added alloys properties like hardenability, mechanical properties or corrosion resistance can be optimized.

High alloyed steel contains a mass fraction between 5 % and 30 % of alloys and can be recognised by the X in its chemical discription  (D2 – X153CrMoV12).

What should be paid attention to when buying steel?

When buying steel, it is very important to consider which properties the alloys should enhance or decrease and the intended uses play a big role too. It is important to know where the steel will be usedwhich steel group it comes from, what properties it should have, how the surface has been treated or which delivery condition (annealed, hardened) it has.

Here are some alloying elements which can give a steel grade various properties:

Alloying elements in the steel material for special properties!

Carbon is one of the main alloying elements in steel. It lends itself to e.g. hardness, elasticity and shock resistance. A high carbon content can lead to higher brittleness and can negativly influence formability and weldabilty.

Chrome can positively  influence properties like wear resistance, edge retention, heat resistance and is with a  minimum content of 10.5% corrosion resistant.

Molybdenum, next to chromium, is a very important alloing element for the corrosion resistance of stainless steels.

In addition molybdenum improves the hardenability, tensile strength and weldability. This alloying element negatively effects the formability and elasticity.

Nickel improves the tensile strength and yield strength and can aid corrosion resistance with a mass fraction minimum of 8%.

Manganese improves the formability, weldability, hardness, wear resistance and in high alloyed steels ferrite stabilising.

Titanium prevents intergranular corrosion by forming titanium carbid and is used as a stabiliser in ferritic stainless steels to prevent unwanted grain growth and the associated embrittlement.

Vanadium improves hardness, wear resistance and ductiliy. It builds smaller grains in the structure which makes the steel extremely easy to weld.

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