Steel Making

What is steel?

  • Steel is iron that contains carbon and some other alloying elements.
  • Steel remains one of the most important of the materials used in engineering and manufacturing.

What is iron?

  • Iron is a magnetic metal, extracted from iron ore.  Metal alloys containing iron are referred to as ferrous metals.
  • Approximately 5% of the earth’s crust is made up of iron found in chemical combination with oxygen, sulfur, silicon and other elements. (Iron Ore)

Why are alloying elements added to steel?

  • Alloying –  Adding other elements to steel to change its properties.  For example:
    • Stainless steel contains the elements chromium and nickel, to make it rust resistant for use in corrosive environments. i.e. kitchens.
    • Manganese is added to increase toughness, while steel for cutting tools have tungsten and cobalt to keep them hard, even when hot.
Why is carbon the most important of the alloying elements?
  • Carbon gives a steel the ability to be hardened by heating and quenching.  This makes the finished product stronger and more wear resistant.
  • Carbon content influences machinability.
  • Carbon is the major alloying element in plain carbon steels.

What influences our choice of steel?

  • Physical characteristics.
  • Ability and ease of hardening.
  • Cost.
  • Availability.
  • Machinability.

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