Steel: It’s not that simple

We often have a laugh in the workshop about how simple many people think steel is. “It’s just steel right?” – Not quite! There are thousands of different grades, qualities and types of steel which are manipulated and applied to even more types of uses, products and buildings. At Stronghold, we focus on residential steel structures and commercial steel structures, but our team have had a go at just about every other type.

According to the World Steel Association, there are over 3,500 grades of steel currently known to man. These gradings cover a range of chemical, environmental and physical properties, each with a unique nature to differentiate it from the last.

Put simply, steel is made from iron and carbon. At a micro level, the amount of carbon, the purity of the iron and additional alloying elements are what combine to determine the steel grade.

How much carbon goes into steel? Generally, the most widely found carbon content is between 0.1 -0.25%, however there are steel grades that can contain up to 1.5% carbon.

The amount of carbon used in a particular type of steel production, often varies based on it’s intended application. As you would expect, the different types of steel produced have their own unique properties which are manipulated to be beneficial for that use.

Broadly, steel falls into one of the following four (4) categories:

  1. Carbon Steels
  2. Alloy Steels
  3. Stainless Steels
  4. Tool Steels

Carbon Steels

Over 90% of the steel made in the world are variants of carbon steel. The amount of carbon present determines the strength of the steel, or how hard it is. For instance, low carbon steels are used to make things like fences, gates and railings. This type of carbon steel is more brittle, but also stronger.

Medium or Mild Carbon Steels are the most common type of carbon steel and is used to build skyscrapers, large buildings, bridges and homes.

Alloy Steels

Alloy steels contain varying levels of other elements like manganese, nickel, titanium, copper and aluminium. This works to change the steel’s properties, essentially changing the way they can be used. Whether they need to be more resistant to corrosion, better for welding or just stronger will determine which elements are included in it’s production.

Alloy steels are used to make things like pipelines, automotive parts and electric motors.

Stainless Steels

Containing between 10-20% chromium, stainless steels are well-known for their high resistance to corrosion. The different types of Stainless Steels are Austenitic, Ferritic and Martensitic. Each of these types are prevalent in different industries from cooking to piping, knives to surgical equipment.

Tool Steels

Tool steels contain tungsten, molybdenum, cobalt and vanadium in various quantities. This works to increase their heat resistance and durability, hence why you will find them in drilling and cutting equipment like that found in the Stronghold workshop.

This is just a brief overview of the many types, categories and uses of steel around the world. At Stronghold, we work primarily with structural steel, known widely as carbon steel. We use this to fabricate residential and commercial building structures all over NSW. 

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What our Customers say

“Frantom Building has been in the custom building market in NSW for 15 years. We have worked with Scott and his team from Stronghold Fabrications in all aspects with steel, from design, shop drawings, and delivery. Their attention to detail has been proven in the perfection of the finish in their products and servicing ability. We look forward to moving into the future with Stronghold Fabrications.”

Ed Poulton Director Frantom Building Pty Ltd

“Just wanted to thank you for another awesome job. The steel you supplied for our home at Lilli Pilli went together perfectly and the 3D model was a great tool for us to use both during the install and for planning the final finishes on the project. Keep up the great work!”

Dave, Nitro Stainless Pty Ltd

“Thank you for another successful and efficient project completed by your team. Consistently well produced steel products from Stronghold Fabrications have ensured installation always goes smoothly on our projects. Your installers ability to work in with our teams onsite to ensure any site issues do not cause delays is a refreshing change. Thank you.”

Nicholas Klapsogiannis, General Manager, VantageCorp Pty Ltd