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Introduction to Metallurgy...a Metallurgical Tutorial

Welding - Carbon Steels - Stainless Steels - Cast Iron - Super Alloys - Steel - Heat Treating - Corrosion - Galvanic corrosion - Ceramics - Refractories

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel the most commercially used of all the steels.  As the name applies this steel is about carbon steels and based on their Carbon (% C) content. Carbon steels belong to a broad classification also known as Plain Carbon Steels and categorized as follows:Steel Billet

  • Low Carbon Steels 0.01% C to 0.30% C
  • Medium Carbon Steels 0.30% C to about 0.60% C
  • High Carbon Steels 0.60% C to 1.00% C

Steel BloomWe further classify them as to oxygen content (deoxidation) and how this is accomplished, for instance rimmed steel, semi-killed steel, and killed steel. This is a very important aspect that must be addressed in ordering plain carbon steels.

Carbon is still the single most important factor in plain carbon steels because it effects the strength and other mechanical properties including hardness. Plain carbon steels are also alloyed to a certain degree, but they are not called alloy steels because they are under 2% when the alloying element are totaled.  Mn (manganese is an important ingredient in carbon steels.

Slab of Steel

Low Carbon Steel

Low-carbon steels 0.01% C to 0.30% C and are the most widely used in boilers, piping, tanks, pressure vessels, automobile body panels and wire. They are hot rolled and cold rolled. We can split them in to a lower carbon range for the light gauge sheeting where carbon content is around 0.10% C with a corresponding Manganese at 0.40% Mn. At the upper range is plate or boiler plate with above 0.20% C to 0.30% C with a corresponding Manganese of 0.80% Mn to 1.5% Mn.

Medium Carbon Steel

Medium-carbon steels contain 0.30% C to 0.60% C and Mn (Manganese) from 0.60 to 1.65%. Medium carbon steels are used for quenching and tempered including product forms of shafting, Order a 'Basic Metallurgical Correspondence Course' Today!gears, crankshafts, forgings, rails, and railway wheels assemblies.

High Carbon Steel

High-carbon steels contain from 0.60% C to 1.00% C with Manganese contents ranging from 0.30% Mn to 0.90% Mn.  Normally, these steels are used in springs and similar product shapes that require very high strengths.

Carbon steels with carbon content in the range of 1.25% C to 2.0% C are specialty carbon steels.


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