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Differences between Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel

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Steel is one of the most widely used materials for infrastructure, transport, packaging, and consumer durable industries. It is found in all kinds of products from aerospace to kitchenware. 

Its incredible durability and versatility make it useful; in everything and you will find it everywhere you look and in many industries. The broad two categories of steel are carbon steel and stainless steel. Both metals are used in commercial and consumer applications.

Carbon steel and stainless steel have the same basic ingredients of iron and carbon. Their main difference is alloy content—carbon steel has under 10.5 percent alloy content, while stainless steel must contain 10.5 percent chromium or more. Whenever selecting any type of steel for your project, it is important to know the grades of the steel to make the correct decision. So, this article will help you to understand the difference between carbon and stainless steel:

  • Corrosion Resistance: One of the most important differences between carbon steel and stainless steel is the ability to resist corrosion. Stainless steel resists more corrosion than carbon steel. Both the metals contain iron which oxidizes when exposed to the environment which creates rust. Metals that can resist corrosion, usually have a protective layer that prevents them from oxidation reactions. However, stainless steel has added chromium which attaches to the oxygen more easily than iron and creates an oxidized layer that protects from degradation. So, if corrosion resistance is important for your project, stainless steel is the best option.

  • Mechanical Properties: It is difficult to state the differences in mechanical properties between carbon steel and stainless steel. They have many different types and grades for each steel. Stainless steel has a large amount of nickel so it is more flexible than carbon steel. There are breakable grades of steel as well, which is called martensitic grade. The tensile strength of carbon steel cannot match the stainless steel due to the very low amount of carbon in carbon steel.

  • Appearance: If your project requires an aesthetic appeal, the appearance of the metal must be considered.  The appearance of the metal can play a very important role in crafting the environment you are looking for. Carbon steel appears dull with a matte finish while stainless steel appears to be glossier and it comes in various grades. Though both can be polished to have a bright and shiny look, carbon steel requires a clear coat of paint after polishing to avoid rust.

  • Cost Implications: Whenever you are choosing any type of steel for your project, budget plays a vital role. Although different grades have different costs, stainless steel is more expensive than carbon steel because of the additional alloying elements in it. Stainless steel includes chromium, nickel, manganese, and others while carbon steel is composed of iron and carbon elements. So if you have a tight budget for your project, carbon steel is likely the better option.

Gulf Steel has years of experience, honing our skills across the board to deliver DCL-approved steel and provide quality customer service to our customers. They are one of the best producers of steel and also CARE-approved steel companies in UAE. If you have any requirements for good quality steel bars then you should contact Gulf Steel. 


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