The Characteristics of Steel
What is often misunderstood about carbon steel is that it is not a singular metal. The term carbon steel actually describes a range of steel with varying levels of carbon and other materials that provide the steel’s crystalline structure with certain properties. The most plentiful ingredient in any steel is Iron. Ratios of carbon, manganese, aluminum, and the like are added to give the steel the best characteristics and properties for its intended use. This range of metals is usually divided into three categories: low carbon steel, medium carbon steel, and high carbon steel.
Low Carbon Steel – It has 0.04 and 0.3 percent carbon and is extremely versatile. It’s easy to weld, cut, and shape, making it the perfect choice for tasks requiring strength and shaping. It has enough carbon to make it hard and durable, but not brittle.
Medium Carbon Steel – It has from 0.31 to 0.6 percent carbon. This yields a harder steel, more resistant to cutting and welding. This kind of steel is often formed and shaped before being heat treated, tempered, or cryogenically processed to further harden or refine the metal.
High Carbon Steel – It aside from a carbon percentage that can run as high as 1.5 percent, the alloys added to this steel are usually meant to further increase the hardness. Steel of this quality is commonly called “tool steel” and is incredibly hard and brittle. Further heat treatment makes it more so, but the tools made from this metal are durable and unyielding.
Humans have been making steel for centuries.The current method of steel production is the Basic Oxygen Steelmaking Process (BOS).