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What is Alloy Steel?

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An alloy steel is a type of steel combined with more than one element (alloying elements). Alloying elements increase strength, hardness, wear resistance, and toughness, producing more robust and substantive steel. The alloying elements added to the base iron and carbon structure typically total no more than 5% of the alloy steel’s material composition.

Steel Alloy Advantages

Whether your project requires advanced corrosion resistance, machinability, strength, or a bevy of other qualities, there is an alloy steel that provides the features you need. With added heat treatment, alloy steels can offer a wide range of beneficial attributes, including:
  • Enhanced corrosion resistance
  • Increased hardenability
  • Superior strength and hardness
  • Unique alloyed features

Steel Alloy Manufacturing Processes

Steel alloys are traditionally manufactured by combining percentages of pure elements until the proper chemical makeup is achieved. Adequate mixing is easily accomplished within liquid states but extremely slow and challenging in solid forms. The components are purified in the liquid state, mixing the alloying agents with the base metals.

High & Low Steel Alloy Differentiating Qualities

High alloy steel has alloying elements (not including carbon or iron) that make up more than 8% of its composition. These alloys are less common because most steel only dedicates a few percent to the additional elements. Stainless steel is the most popular high alloy, with at least 10.5% chromium by mass. This ratio gives stainless steel more corrosion resistance. The chromium oxide coating acts as a sacrificial layer that slows down rusting of the substrate material.
Low alloy steel is only modified slightly with other elements, which provides slight advantages in hardenability, strength, and free machining. By lowering the carbon content to around 0.2%, the low alloy steel will retain its strength and boast improved formability.

Common Steel Alloying Elements

When it comes to steel, many elements can be added to the base material, allowing the purchaser to tweak variances until the proper alloy is found. Common alloying elements include the following:
  • Manganese: Used in tandem with small amounts of sulfur and phosphorus, the steel alloy becomes less brittle and easier to hammer.
  • Chromium: A small percentage (0.5% - 2%) can help to harden the alloy; more significant percentages (4% - 18%) have the added effect of preventing corrosion.
  • Vanadium: With only .15%, this element can boost strength, heat resistance, and overall grain structure. Mixed with chromium, the steel alloy becomes much harder but retains its formability.
  • Nickel: Up to 5%, this alloying element will improve the steel’s strength. In excess of 12%, it provides impressive corrosion resistance.
  • Tungsten: Boosts heat resistance, so the melting point is higher. It also improves the structural makeup of the steel.

Typical Steel Alloy Applications

Steel alloys can be forged into various shapes, including pipes, tubes, plates, sheets, coils, bars, rods, wires, forged fittings, buttweld fittings, flanges, fasteners, and more. Steel alloy industrial applications include the following:
  • Automotive
  • Mining
  • Machinery
  • Road construction
  • Railways
  • Appliances
  • Offshore duties
  • Buildings

Alloy Steel Shape & Material Options

Whether you are searching for a steel or stainless steel alloy, several material and shape options are worth considering.
Steel Alloy Shapes Stainless Steel Alloy Shapes

The IMS Difference

What separates IMS from other metals companies? With an abundance of metal options and customer service that is second to none, IMS has you covered with the following advantages:
  • Next-day delivery of processed material via our trucks
  • Same-day pick-up in Will-Call
  • No minimum purchase
  • Support of Just-in-Time manufacturing processes
  • Salespeople that act as an extension of your purchasing department (we will get any metal products you need)
  • Material management (stocking and delivery on a scheduled basis)
  • Credit lines with good terms
  • Knowledgeable staff that knows metal
  • Seven stores are open six days a week (check each location for specific times)
  • Shop by metal alloy

Find the Steel Alloy You Need

Searching for premium alloy steel products? IMS stocks a wide selection of steel alloys in the shapes and sizes you need. We also provide metal cutting services to make purchasing easy and convenient. Stop by one of our California or Arizona locations or get a steel alloy quote today.

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