Steel is one of the most commonly used materials across a wide variety of industries. There are many different grades and varieties of Steel but at its core Steel is an alloy between Iron and Carbon and most Steel can be divided into three core categories; Carbon, Stainless and Tool.
As its name suggests Carbon Steel has Carbon as its main alloying element, and the level of Carbon will affect the properties of the metal. Low Carbon Steels contain 0.05-0.30% Carbon where Ultra Carbon steels can contain up to 4% Carbon. Generally speaking Steels with a higher Carbon level will be harder and more wear resistant but can become brittle under stress. Low Carbon Steels are more common due to their lower production cost and greater ductility. The major fault with Carbon Steels is that they are prone to corrosion and rust which limits their shelf life.
The main difference between Carbon and Stainless Steels is that Stainless Steels contain at least 10.5% Chromium. This Chromium content is key because as Chromium reacts with Oxygen it forms a passive layer that protects the steel from Oxidation and Corrosion. Again, the level of Chromium in the Steel alloy will affect the performance and in general terms the higher the Chromium content the longer the Steel should last.
Tool Steels are specifically formed for certain applications, and as their name suggests are popular for the manufacture of metal forming Tools used in machining and extrusion. Tool Steels are usually more complex alloys and will often include of Tungsten, Chromium, Vanadium and Molybdenum in their alloys. The six main groups of Tool Steels are Cold Work, Hot Work, Shock Resistant, Water Hardening and Shock Resistant.
Grades, Varieties and Machining
Under these categories there is a wide variety in different types and grades of Steel, and each has their own properties for machining. As a sub-contract machinist we work in a great many different varieties of Steel and this includes complex powder met grade steels with a high level of hardness. B&B Precision can machine Steels with a hardness of 70HRC and specialise in the manufacture of small to medium sized components to your drawing.