Carbon steel (CS) is one of the most useful metal commodities we have in the world. Numerous industries rely on carbon steel because it is extremely affordable and retains terrific mechanical properties. The makeup of CS is generally a combination of carbon, iron, and other trace elements. Measured in weight, it usually retains between 0.05% and 2% carbon.
If you have a project that involves using carbon steel, you have chosen an excellent metal to work with; however, it is important to know which grade of CS to choose for your intended application. Continue reading to learn some helpful answers to the most frequently asked questions about carbon steel and its variety of grades available.
Which Grades Have Good Machinability?
When it comes to machining carbon steel, there are some grades that work well, and others that prove a bit challenging. For instance, grades with lower carbon content are easily machined, such as C1010 and C1018. Even grades with slightly high carbon content have decent machinability, like C1041 and C1044. On the other hand, grades like C1045 have a very high carbon content without any additional elements to assist in machining; so it is a poor selection for applications that involve machining.
Which Grades Can Be Welded?
Just like machinability, there are several types of CS that can be welded, and several others that are not great choices for welding applications. Grades that contain high machinability, like C1041 and C1044, are generally poor at welding. That is because they contain sulfur that will lead to weld solidification cracks. But if you choose a lower grade, like C1010 or A36, you will have no trouble with welding. If you use higher grades, like C1045, you will likely require preheat or post-weld heat treatments.
How Strong is it?
If the carbon content is low, the tensile strength is generally also low. If it is high, then the tensile strength should be high. If you project requires sufficient strength, a low-grade is not a good choice. Instead, choose a higher strength CS, like C1045. If you need strength and formability, you can choose a high-strength low-alloy steel (HSLA) that contains low carbon, but designed to still retain high strength capacities.
Is it Resistant to Corrosion?
Carbon steel is a ferrous metal, which means it contains iron. Accordingly, when exposed to certain elements, like oxygen and water, the metals will oxidize and rust will form. And rust weakens the structural integrity of metal, which then leads to corrosion. If your metal application requires a resistance to corrosion, you are better off choosing a galvanized or plated CS that contains chromium or some other corrosive-resistant agent. Also, painting carbon steel helps to prevent corrosion.
Can it Be Recycled?
If you have leftover carbon steel, whether scraps or in the form of a commodity, you can recycle it at any local metal recycling center. In some cases, metal processing companies will pay you for your recyclable scrap metal. Just do your research first, and look for a company that has the right credentials.