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  • Writer's pictureMohd Azlan Razak


Do you know that…

• Steel is around one thousand times stronger than the purest form of iron and it can be recycled without losing this strength.

• The steel industry opens up homes for more than 2 million people worldwide as its employment rates increase.

• 25% of an average computer is made up by steel.

• When heated, steel and iron expand. This property of steel increases the height of the Eiffel tower by six inches in summer.

• 200 billion cans are made every year from steel.

• More than eighty million tons of steel are recycled in North America every year.

• Roofs made from steel last more than fifty years while traditional roofs only last for seventeen years.

Everyone has for sure heard of stainless steel before. It is the best material for cookware like pots and pans. But do you know what stainless steel is made up of?

It is a mixture of iron, chromium, silicon, carbon, and manganese (all added in different portions). Any mixture of metals is known as an alloy.


Another example of an alloy is an alloy steel. It is a type of steel which is mixed with different levels of one or more of the following elements: manganese, silicon, nickel, titanium, copper, chromium, and aluminium. The difference between stainless steel and alloy steel is that alloy steel is made up of elements such as nickel and copper.

Alloy steel refers to a steel that is refined on the basis of carbon steel by adding some alloying elements (such as chromium, nickel, molybdenum, tungsten, vanadium, titanium, etc.) in order to improve the properties of the steel.

The most important and desired changes in alloy steel are:

 Increased hardenability.

 Increased corrosion resistance.

 Retention of hardness and strength.

Nearly all alloy steels require heat treatment in order to bring out their best properties.

According to the type of alloying elements, these types of steel can be divided into:

 Stainless steel

 chrome steel,

 manganese steel,

 chromium manganese steel,

 chrome nickel steel,

 chromium molybdenum steel and

 silicon manganese steel, etc.

Alloy steel can be divided into two groups: high alloy steel and low alloy steel

According to the total content of its alloying elements, it can be divided into:

 Low alloy steel, total mass fraction of alloying elements is ≤5%;

 Medium alloy steel, total mass fraction of alloying elements is 5-10%;

 High alloy steel, total mass fraction of alloying elements is >10%.

Alloy steel is one of the common steels that are used frequently.

There is a wide range of applications of alloy steel including:

o Pipes used in energy-related applications such as oil and gas drilling. They have the ability to withstand the stress and pressure that will be applied in those machine parts.

o Bearings are made from alloy steel as it gives them strength to resist any cracking or rolling contact fatigue.

o Architecture uses alloy steel to avoid corrosion, high alloy steel is used in construction.

o Railways, security safes and armour plating are other common uses of alloy steel. Manganese and Nickel found in alloy steel are both mainly responsible for this application.

o Household items such as the cookware, cutlery, countertops, etc. are made from stainless steel, as they are easy to shape with high temperatures.

o Artwork has integrated steel alloys as a medium for fine art. Artists use it as the base of the canvas to give the art piece shine.

o Alloy steel is used in nearly all industries. In addition to the uses listed above, steel can be used in transportation, housing, energy, and machinery.

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is made of stainless steel.

… (to be continued)

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