Wondering What Carbon Steel is Used For? Click Here to Find Out!

September 15, 2019 by Bob Wilson

Did you know that steel is one of the strongest metals out there, nearly 1,000 times stronger than iron? It's also one of the most recycled materials in the US as 80 million tons of steel are recycled each year.


However, experts in engineering and metallurgy have created carbon steel alloys which are even tougher and contain carbon in various amounts. These metals are used in various applications such as for making bolts, screwdrivers, and even landing gear for planes.


Keep reading this article to find out more about carbon steel uses.


Top Uses of Carbon Steel in Various Industries

Carbon steel comes in various alloys which are categorized as low carbon steel, medium carbon steel, high carbon steel, and even ultra-high carbons steel. One of the main differences between these alloys consists of the amount of carbon in them. Here’s how carbon steels are used in today’s industries.


1. Low Carbon Steel Is Used for Domestic Appliances

Low carbon steel usually contains up to 0.3% carbon and it’s one of the easiest ones to work with. Although this metal is still pretty tough, it’s not tempered and heat-treated for extra strength. It’s usually used to make fasteners and bolts as well as rods, spindles, and shafts for various machines.


In many cases, low carbon steel is processed into large sheets and shipped to manufacturing companies. Each company then uses this material for various purposes such as making vehicle bodies, domestic appliances, building parts for ships, making long wires, etc. Low carbon alloys can be cut and bent with relative ease and they are not brittle.


2. Medium Carbon Steel Is Used for Pipelines and Bridges

Carbon steel which contains from 0.3% to 0.6% carbon is known as medium carbon steel. This type of metal is tougher than low carbon steel, but still not the strongest one out there. It can be combined with small amounts of manganese or silicon to improve its quality and durability.


The medium carbon steel also has various uses in today’s modern world. For example, it’s used to build pipelines underground as well as for making components for buildings and bridges. Medium carbon steel can also be used for shafts, gears, rails, axles, and couplings. The automotive industry relies on these alloys for making vehicle components in different sizes and shapes.


This type of steel is also known as mild steel and it’s also used for making screwdrivers, pliers, and other hand tools. Next time you use a screwdriver, you know what the metal part is made from.


3. High Carbon Steel Is Used for Cutting Tools and Blades

The third type of steel in our category is high carbon steel which contains from 0.6% to 1.4% carbon. This is one of the toughest carbon steels out there and it’s used for applications which put strength and durability as the highest priority. For example, you can find high carbon steel in blades, cutting tools, large machinery components, high-strength wire, springs, etc.


High carbon steel can also be used for dies and landing gear for aircraft. The components used to safely land a heavy plane need to be as tough as possible. They also need to resist vibrations and powerful shocks and impacts. That’s why the engineers use high carbon steel because this metal is usually tempered and heat-treated to sustain a lot of weight.


High carbon steel alloys are also used to make shafts for transmissions in racing vehicles. These cars are usually exposed to a lot of heat and vibrations while speeding on a race circuit, so their components need to be as tough as possible. You might find high carbon steel in welded tubing applications as well.


4. Ultra-High Carbon Steel Is Used for Industrial Castings

When the amount of carbon in a steel alloy exceeds 1.4% then this is considered to be ultra-high carbon steel. Although this metal is designed for strength and durability, it’s also brittle and cannot be cold worked. It’s used in various applications such as for making metal lamp posts for street illumination.


Thanks to the fact that ultra-high carbon alloys are very tough and durable, they’re used to make industrial castings of different shapes. These objects help in the manufacturing process of various machine parts, shafts, axles, bolts, nuts, and other metal components.


At the same time, this type of carbon steel can also be used for making the blades of eco-friendly windmills. Experts use it for hot water radiators as well as for making extremely durable cutting tools. Although they are very strong, these metal alloys are a little bit difficult to work with because of their durability and strength.


Carbon Steel Quick Facts

There are numerous types of steel alloys out there and they’re usually differentiated by the number of various substances such as carbon, copper, manganese, etc in their composition. For example, here are a few quick facts about carbon steel:

  • Steel containing less than 0.4% copper can be defined as carbon steel
  • Steel alloys with up to 1.65% manganese can also be defined as carbon steel
  • Certain carbon steel alloys can also contain minimal amounts of chromium, titanium, nickel, vanadium, and other substances
  • The more carbon a steel alloy has, the lower its melting point
  • If the carbon content in steel alloys exceeds 2% then the metal cannot be classified as carbon steel anymore

Learn More About Steel Fabrication Today!

As you can see, there’s a lot to learn about when it comes to carbon steel and its uses. Carbon is one of the most abundant and inexpensive materials in the world and that’s why engineering experts are using it to make different types of steels. New carbon steel alloys are created every day as metallurgists experiment with different combinations of carbon, zinc, tungsten, titanium, and nickel to create metals.


Steel fabrication is an interesting craft which sits at the foundation of most metal products and accessories we use every day. Check out our Steel Fabrication page if you want to learn more about how carbon steel is produced, how it can be used, and how we can tailor our services according to the requirements of your business!