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What is Alloy Steel?


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

Alloy Steel Advantages

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

High & Low Alloy Steel Differentiating Qualities

A 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, with a coating of chromium oxide to slow down rusting.
Meanwhile, low alloy steel is only modified slightly with other elements, which provide subtle 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, there are many different elements that can be added to the base material, allowing the purchaser to tweak variances until the right 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; larger 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 together with chromium, the steel alloy becomes much harder, but still 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. Also improves the structural makeup of the steel.


Alloy Steel Shape & Material Options

Whether you are searching for a steel or stainless steel alloy, there are several material and shape options worth considering.

Steel Alloy Shapes

Stainless Steel Alloy Shapes

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