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What Are the Different Grades of Steel?

a fabricator is cutting the metal

Canada's steel industry employs almost 24,000 workers and contributes $2.8 billion to the nation's GDP. Steel is used in almost any industry, from construction and manufacturing to aerospace. 

This blog covers the different characterizations and grades of steel. Keep reading to find out which may be best for your project or industry. 

What Is Steel?

Steel is an alloy made from iron and a small amount of carbon, which directly influences the strength of steel. 

Other materials can be added to steel to achieve different qualities. Common ones include nickel, chromium, and manganese. 

What Are Steel Classifications?

Steel grades are specific demarcations that relate to the type of alloys included in the metal. This is important because custom metal fabricators can use different combinations for distinct purposes. 

In general, there are four main classifications that are useful for grouping steel types.

Alloy Steel

Alloy steel includes alloying elements, such as aluminum, copper, chromium, or nickel. These elements can make the steel stronger or more corrosion-resistant, ductile, or malleable.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel mainly consists of iron and carbon, with only minimal traces of other elements. It is the most popular type of steel. As the carbon content increases, the steel's hardness and strength can be enhanced through heat treatment. 

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel contains between 10 and 20 percent chromium as its alloying element. It makes the steel more resistant to corrosion. Stainless steel can also contain other elements, including carbon, manganese, nickel, and silicon.  

Tool Steel

Tool steels include elements like cobalt, molybdenum, tungsten, and vanadium. This makes the steel extremely heat-resistant and durable. It can retain its shape and function, even under extreme conditions, which makes it ideal for tool production.

Steel Grading

Steel grading is a way of identifying the specific properties and elements of the metal. There are more than a dozen grading systems used in different locations throughout the world. 

During the 1930s and 1940s, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) became involved in developing a numbering system for different types of steel. The AISI system uses letter prefixes to designate certain steel characteristics. 

The SAE system uses an alloy numbering system. The first number in the steel grade refers to a particular alloy. 

For instance, "1" designates carbon steel, "2" nickel steel, and "3" nickel-chromium steel. There are nine main categories in all.   

Find the Best Steal For Your Projects in Edmonton and Calgary

Now that you have a better understanding of the grades and classifications of steel, a qualified steel fabricator can further assist you in choosing among the many steel options. 

Since 1994, Terrick Enterprises Ltd  has provided a full range of steel fabrication services in Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon and surrounding areas. We offer steel fabrication, pipe clamps, pallet racking, and more. Reach out to us for a free quote. 



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