Time to Read: 2m 31s
As two commonly used metals, stainless steel and carbon steel offer you versatile options for a wide range of construction and industrial purposes. Understanding the characteristics of each metal type as well as the differences and functionalities can help you decide which metal type is best for your project requirements.
Stainless Steel CharacteristicsWith at least 10% chromium, stainless steel has a base made of carbon steel and iron. Additional alloying elements can be added in different stainless steel grades. With the addition of chromium, stainless steel is a corrosion resistant metal type with exceptional tensile strength. Other benefits of stainless steel include:
- Low-temperature resistant
- Formable and easily fabricated
- Polished finishes
- 300 series austenitic stainless steel is one of the most common stainless steels due to its versatility.
Stainless Steel Metal OptionsStainless steel products are readily available in a wide range of sizes, finishes and alloys. Common stainless steel metal shapes include:
- Stainless Steel Bar
- Stainless Steel Sheet & Plate
- Stainless Steel Tube
- Stainless Steel Pipe
- Stainless Steel Angle
Carbon Steel CharacteristicsAlso known as mild steel, low carbon steel contains carbon and iron. Carbon steels are categorized by their carbon content. low carbon steels containing less than 0.25% carbon, medium carbon steels with 0.25%-0.60% carbon, and high carbon steels containing 0.60%-1.25% carbon. Low carbon steel benefits include:
- Easily machinable
- Low carbon steel is lighter than high carbon steel
Carbon Steel Metal OptionsLow carbon steel products are available in a wide range of steel grades including 1018, A36, A513, and more. Steel shapes include:
Main Differences between Carbon Steel and Stainless SteelWhile both carbon steel and stainless steel comprise of iron and steel, carbon steel includes the addition of carbon whereas stainless steel incudes the addition of chromium. Additional differences between carbon steel and stainless steel include the following:
- Stainless steel is corrosion resistant due to the chromium content where carbon steel can corrode and rust.
- 300 series stainless steel is non-magnetic and carbon steel is magnetic.
- Stainless steel has a bright finish whereas carbon steel has a matte finish.
Is Carbon Steel or Stainless Steel Stronger?With the inclusion of carbon properties, carbon steel is stronger than stainless steel. Carbon steel is also harder and more durable than stainless steel. The downfall of steel is that it oxidizes when exposed to moisture which make it prone to rust. Stainless steel is corrosion resistant, with better ductility than carbon steel.
When to Use Stainless SteelDue to its hygienic properties and corrosion resistance, stainless steel is suitable for the following applications:
- Commercial kitchen equipment
- Aerospace components
- Marine fasteners
- Automotive parts
- Chemical processing
When to Use Carbon SteelCarbon steel is ideally suited for a variety of commercial and industrial applications, including:
- Building and Construction
- Bridge components
- Automotive components
- Machinery applications