Master Guide to Stainless Steel and Carbon Steel

Metals play a critical role in many industries and applications, from constructing towering skyscrapers to producing medical implants. They form an essential foundation for nearly every sector, and among the most versatile ones are stainless and carbon steel. Each has distinct properties that render them indispensable for manufacturing high-performance components.

Bergsen Metals has been a trusted provider of premium steel products and services for over four decades! This earned us a reputation for reliability and excellence in the industry. Our commitment to meeting the diverse needs of customers across different sectors is also evident in our ISO 9001 certification. Further, we offer competitive rates and prompt delivery for all metal requirements.

What Is Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel is an alloy comprising iron, carbon, and at least 10.5% chromium by weight. Incorporating other metals — such as nickel, molybdenum, or titanium — into this composition can substantially augment the material’s properties.

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Nickel increases the metal’s ductility and toughness, allowing easy shaping and forming without sacrificing strength. On the other hand, molybdenum enhances the metal’s strength and heat resistance, while titanium improves its tolerance to crevice and pitting corrosion. Furthermore, copper is frequently added to boost the resistance to sulfuric acid, and nitrogen helps enhance its mechanical strength.

Adding chromium improves the material’s corrosion resistance and enhances its ability to withstand high temperatures. Manganese is added to improve the metal’s toughness, while silicon improves its oxidation resistance. Additionally, the addition of molybdenum can enhance the material’s corrosion resistance and improve its strength at high temperatures.

Benefits of Utilizing Stainless Steel

Stainless steel’s distinctive properties have made it popular in many industries. Here are the key benefits of using this metal:

  • Strength and Durability
    Stainless steel is a durable and strong material that resists deformation and cracking when subjected to intense force and impact. It is also suitable for extreme heat conditions due to its high-temperature tolerance.
  • Corrosion Resistance
    This steel type has a distinctive edge over other metals due to its exceptional corrosion resistance, making it an excellent choice for applications in harsh environments. In addition, chromium’s protective layer formation prevents the metal from rusting, staining, and tarnishing.
  • Hygiene and Cleanliness
    Stainless steel can be easily sanitized and cleaned due to its non-porous surface. Therefore, it is an excellent option for settings where hygiene is the greatest priority, such as hospitals, laboratories, and food processing plants. Its smooth surface texture also inhibits bacterial growth, which is advantageous for applications requiring stringent sanitation standards.
  • Aesthetics
    Stainless steel has a sleek and modern appearance that can enhance the visual appeal of various products and structures. Its shiny and reflective surface texture can also create an illusion of space, making it ideal for use in small spaces.

Types of Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a highly versatile material with several grades and forms. Below are some of the frequently used types in various industrial applications:

Stainless Steel

Austenitic SS: This variety is the most popular and accounts for roughly 70% of all steel production. It contains significant amounts of chromium, nickel, and occasionally molybdenum, resulting in excellent corrosion resistance and durability.
Ferritic SS: This type is distinguished by its magnetic properties and contains a high concentration of chromium but a low amount of nickel. It is also highly resistant to stress corrosion cracking.
Martensitic SS: This type is characterized by its strength and hardness and comprises high levels of carbon and chromium.
Duplex SS: This variety contains high levels of chromium and nickel and is known for its strength and toughness.
Precipitation Hardening SS: This type is hardened through a heat treatment process. It contains high concentrations of chromium, nickel, and copper.

What Is Carbon Steel?

Carbon steel is a steel alloy rich in carbon compared to other types. It usually has a carbon content ranging from 0.05% to 2% by weight, with certain specialized grades having even higher concentrations. This elevated carbon content level gives carbon steel its unique properties of toughness and strength.

It is frequently utilized to manufacture components subjected to high-stress levels, such as machine parts, tools, and structural components. It is also a cost-effective option for many applications, as it is a relatively inexpensive material. However, carbon steel is less corrosion-resistant and may require additional protective coatings or treatments to prevent rust and degradation over time.

Carbon Steel

In addition, carbon steel can be divided into four different categories: low carbon steel, medium carbon steel, high carbon steel, and ultra-high carbon steel. The differences in carbon content between these categories determine the steel’s properties and potential applications. Low carbon steel has the lowest carbon content and is typically used for applications that require ductility, such as car bodies and wire.Medium carbon steel is commonly used for forging, construction, and engineering applications. High carbon steel is ideal for cutting tools and blades due to its hardness and wear resistance. Lastly, ultra-high carbon steel has the highest carbon content and is typically used for specialized applications such as knives and springs.

Benefits of Utilizing Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is commonly used in various industries due to its numerous advantages. Here are three of its most prominent benefits:

  • Strength and Durability
    Like other alloys, carbon steel is recognized for its exceptional strength and toughness, making it an ideal option for producing high-stress components. Its robustness and durability have also made it popular in various industries, including construction, mining, and manufacturing.
  • Cost-Effectiveness
    The affordability of carbon steel allows manufacturers to produce high-quality products at a lower cost. This is particularly beneficial for businesses looking to minimize their production overhead. Moreover, despite its low cost, it retains useful characteristics like durability and strength.
  • Versatility
    Manufacturers can customize carbon steel into different sizes and shapes based on the specific demands of the projects. The material can also be welded and machined easily, offering more customization opportunities.
  • Corrosion Resistance
    Although carbon steel is not as corrosion-resistant as stainless steel, it can still resist rust and degradation when appropriately coated or treated. Additionally, its high carbon content enables it to form a protective oxide layer, which protects the material from external elements.

Types of Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is available in various types and grades, each with unique properties that make it suitable for specific applications. Below are some of its most common types:

Carbon Steel

Low CS: This type contains a low amount of carbon (usually less than 0.3%) and is used for applications requiring high ductility and ease of forming.
Medium CS: This grade has a higher carbon content (0.3 to 0.6%) and is often used for strength and toughness.
High CS: This variety contains a very high carbon (between 0.6% to 1.4%) and is the strongest and hardest carbon steel.
Ultra-high CS: This type contains more than 1.4% carbon and is extremely hard and brittle.

Bergsen Metals: The Leading Provider of High-Quality Steel Products

At Bergsen Metals, we take pride in our exceptional steel products and services that have earned our valued customers’ trust! As an ISO-9001-certified company, we go above and beyond to fulfill clients’ diverse needs from various industries.

When you partner with us, you can expect unparalleled customer service and a reliable business partnership. We also strive to offer competitive rates and ensure timely delivery for all your steel product requirements.

Contact us today or request a quote to begin your next project with us!

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