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What are the different types of steel?

There is a huge variety of steel types, but they can be broken down into 4 categories.

Contrary to popular belief, not all steel is the stainless variety. The different types of steel are all used for a huge variety of purposes. All steel is composed of iron and a core element. According to the World Steel Association, there are more than 3,500 different grades of steel. The possibilities and uses for steel are essentially endless!

Elements such as phosphorus, manganese, or sulfur determine the strength and durability of steel. These added elements are used to adjust the strength of the metal along with other characteristics necessary for different applications. In order to categorize the different types of steel, grading systems were created to describe the different varieties of combinations used to make the steel. At PTL one of our jobs is to ensure the proper steel grade and type are being used for the each individual job.

Despite having more than 3,500 different grades of steel available, it can be divided into four main types:

Stainless Steel –

This is the most well-known type of steel. Stainless steel alloys typically contain about 10-20% chromium. This combination makes the stainless steel highly resistant to corrosion. Also, it can be easily molded, rolled, and shaped for hundreds of applications. Stainless steels are used for:

  • Medical and surgical equipment
  • Household appliances
  • Silverware
  • Pots & pans
  • Exterior cladding for industrial & commercial buildings.
  • Stainless steel is thin and flexible nature, along with being stainless, making it a great option for a variety of projects.

Carbon Steel –

Carbon steel contains a very small amount of other elements. It is also extremely common, carbon steels make up for nearly 90% of all steel production. This type of steel is extremely strong and is commonly used to make:

  • Knives
  • Swords
  • Springs
  • High-tension wires
  • Automotive components & other similar products

Alloy Steel –

This category of steel contains a combination of standard steel components (carbon & iron) along with a wide variety of other elements (ex. manganese, silicon, nickel, or copper). Different elements are chosen depending on the desired traits of the metal. Different alloys allow the steel manufacturer to make steel that is exceptionally hard, tough, wear resistant, or resistant to corrosion after being treated by heat. Alloy steels are most notably used for the construction of:

  • Ship hulls
  • Submarines
  • Bridges
  • Military vehicles

Tool Steel –

Tool steel is created using tungsten, molybdenum, cobalt, and vanadium. Using a variety of combinations these alloys are used to increase the steel’s heat resistance and durability. This type of steel is perfect for use in constructing cutting and drilling equipment.

At PTL our teams are experienced in all types of steel and other metals. We’re prepared to take on projects of any size including Heavy Industrial, Stainless Steel, Aluminum, and Metal Forming & Processing.  Whether it’s a simple stair rail or a complete large volume industrial HVAC system with filtration, PTL can help. We know that no two projects are the same and each project has its own specific requirements. Contact us to get started on your project today!

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