Iron and its derivative, steel, account for around 95% of the annual tonnage of all metals produced in the United States. Industries up and down the country use steel and you’ll find it in nearly every building.
The type of steel used for construction works is known as structural steel. It’s used for all manner of purposes, from support beams to entire skeletal structures of buildings. If you’re in the construction industry, you may be wondering about how to understand structural steel grades.
In this article, we’ll cover all the structural steel types so you won’t have to wonder ‘what is structural steel?’
What is Structural Steel?
Put simply, structural steel is metal that construction crews work with. It differs from other steel types because it has been treated and optimized for use in the construction industry.
Structural steel is most often carbon steel. This means that it contains both iron and carbon. Anything that has a carbon content of over 2.1% classes as structural steel.
Many people opt to build with steel because it is incredibly durable and relatively cheap when compared to other metals. It is also able to bend and morph slightly, which might sound worrying, but it actually makes a sudden failure much less likely.
Understanding Structural Steel Grades
There isn’t just one type of structural steel. Different structural steels have different uses, so the steel that you buy from your steel supplier will depend on which of the structural steel types you need.
These types of steel are known as steel grades. Let’s take a look at those now.
Carbon steels are most commonly used to produce industrial tubing and piping.
Steel can be classified as carbon steel when there has been no other alloying element added to it. Copper content cannot exceed 0.6%, manganese content cannot exceed 1.6%, and silicone content cannot exceed 0.6%.
This type of steel is designed to have useful mechanical properties and to be extremely resistant to corrosion. These properties make it ideal for use in structural steel shapes and plates.
High-strength, low-alloy steels typically contain manganese levels of up to 2%.
Forging is a process that shapes metals while they are still in a solid-state. It’s done to reduce gas bubbles and improve the overall strength of the steel.
Quenched Alloy Steels
Strengthening and quenching is a process of heating and then cooling metals simultaneously to add strength to the metal.
They may cool the steel using water, oil, or nitrogen. It creates steel that is much less brittle. As such, it is able to withstand a lot more than other steels.
Get the Right Steel
Understanding structural steel grades is important for people in the construction industry. It allows you to pick the right metal for the job at hand. As you can see, there are many different types of steel out there, so it’s up to you to pick the right one.
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