Carbon Steel Vs. Stainless Steel: An In-depth Analysis
Steel comes in various forms and types. There is mild steel, carbon steel, stainless steel, etc. In all its various forms, steel is the element of choice used in building the majority of our tools, devices, and indeed all the structures that we see around us. As a matter of fact, along with iron, it is one of the most extensively utilized material by man. It is important therefore, to learn about steel and its types.
In the following lines, we shall first explore what steel is and how it is made. Then we shall study about two of its most commonly used types – Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel. Lastly, we shall highlight the main points of distinction between these two types of steel.
Carbon Steel Vs. Stainless Steel: Comparison
► Stainless steel has a larger percentage of chromium in it as compared to carbon steel.
► This chromium allows the formation of a chromium oxide layer when stainless steel comes into contact with water or moisture. Such a layer is absent in carbon steel.
► The protective chromium layer makes stainless steel less susceptible to corrosion and rust. Carbon steel, on the other hand, gets easily rusted.
► Stainless steel is the material of choice in a moist and wet environment. Carbon steel is better used in drier places.
► Generally, alloys conduct less heat as compared to pure metals. The presence of at least 10.5% chromium in stainless steel reduces its thermal conductivity. Carbon steel, though also an alloy, has a much smaller percentage of impurity in the form of carbon, and thus, is more thermally conductive.
► Chromium is added to stainless steel to make ii corrosion-resistant. But this limits the carbon percentage that can be added to it, as it tends to chemically react with chromium. Thus, stainless steel has lesser carbon, and is therefore not as strong and hard as carbon steel.
► Almost all types of carbon steel are magnetic, while only a few types of stainless are magnetic.
► Mild carbon steel is more malleable and ductile as compared to stainless steel. It also has better weld-ability.
► Carbon steel is the more common high-volume steel in production which is used extensively in industries. Stainless steel has more ornamental and aesthetic appeal, and finds uses in homes, architecture, etc.
► For larger projects, where a large volume of steel is required, carbon steel, with its comparatively lower price is the better choice as compared to stainless steel.
Both carbon and stainless steel have the advantage of increased tensile strength compared to raw iron. Apart from that, they also have their own individual characteristics that make them suitable for specific applications. Understanding the properties of each can be helpful while choosing one over the other.
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