The 3 Most Commonly used Types of Steel

galvanizedIn such a technological age, it’s no question that all industries have evolved rapidly. The steel industry is no exception to that, either. In fact, the amount of energy needed to produce a ton of steel has decreased by 34% since 1972.

Steel is something we see and use every day, so it makes sense that efficiency in production matters. But the type of steel used to manufacture a product is also an important factor. There are many types of steel, but three of these are more commonly used than any others. Here’s a short guide to the most commonly used types of steel and what they’re used for.

Tool Steel
As the name suggests, tool steel is often used in the construction of tools. But not necessarily the tools you’d find in your garage. This type of steel is renowned for its hardness and is used primarily to create tools that can cut and shape other metal products. Common applications include cutting, moldmaking, or impact applications. The most common place you’d find this type of steel is in a hammer.

Alloy Steel
Alloy steel is called such because it has small amounts of multiple alloying elements within it. These alloying elements include chromium, titanium, silicon, and nickel, among many others. Adding alloying elements is not equivalent to galvanized steel, it is done to enhance certain features in the steel, and the low cost makes them quite popular in numerous fields. In addition, these steels are often more responsive to heat treatments and mechanical treatments than their carbon steel relative.

Carbon Steel
Carbon steel can be classified in three different ways: low carbon (mild) steel, medium carbon steel, and high carbon steel. Low carbon steel is probably the largest group, covering everything from sheet metal to steel strapping and structural beams. Structural steel typically has a higher carbon level. Medium carbon steel is stronger than low carbon steel, but it’s also more difficult to work with. That being said, it boasts a higher hardness level, making it ideal for galvanized steel strapping. Finally, high carbon steel is the most difficult to work with, as it becomes extremely brittle after being handled.

These are just a few of the many types of steel out there, and hopefully you can walk away knowing a bit more about what comprises the structures you see every day.