The Many Types of Steel

Steel plates in the Philippines, like in the rest of the world, are sheets of metal available in flat sheets or coiled strips, made by rolling metal into flat pieces. Steel is made into other kinds of shapes used for construction, but what is steel, what is it made of, and how important is it to construction?

The Philippines is a developing country that is in need of a major change. The Philippines has been doing very well in the world economy due thanks to the magnificent efforts of the BPO and IT industries in the country. There is a need, however, for construction of public infrastructures to catch up with the rapid development of the country’s economy. Construction in the country for government projects such as road work and the building of bridges and public infrastructure takes months to complete.

In its most basic composition, steel is an alloy which is a mixture of metals and other elements, mostly of iron and carbon. Steel is a very versatile material that is widely used across a large spectrum of industries since steel is considered the most durable, reliable material in terms of tensile strength while still keeping its production cost at a minimum. Steel in particular is made of iron combined with manganese, chromium, nickel, and tungsten, and usually made of iron and carbon. Carbon makes up about 2.1% of the weight of the steel, and if the steel has more than 2.1% of its weight in carbon, it’s no longer called just steel.

To make steel, iron ore must first be mined. It is then smelted. Smelting is the process of extracting the metal from an ore. When the iron is put in a furnace to be smelted, the impurities in the ore is removed, the metal is extracted, and carbon is added.

Types of Steel

Carbon steel is made up of iron and carbon, and sometimes other elements such as manganese, copper, and silicon, is present in this type of steel. Carbon makes steel harder, so the more carbon there is in steel, the more difficult it is to mold, weld, and bend it. Other types of carbon steel indicate how much carbon is present in it, such as low carbon steel, medium carbon steel, high carbon steel, and very high carbon steel.

Alloy steel is made of iron and many other elements such as carbon, nickel, chromium, manganese, silicon, molybdenum, boron, and vanadium. Steel, as mentioned before, is an alloy, however, not all alloys are considered steels. The elements that are added to iron to create alloy steels improve its properties, and some of them are their strength, hardness, and resistance to corrosion. The metal is heat treated to achieve the improvements.

When chromium is mixed iron, stainless steel is created. Stainless steel, as the name implies, is stainless, due to the chromium that blocks the oxygen from destroying the steel; it doesn’t rust or easily corrode compared to regular types of steel, but is not completely rust-proof.

Lastly, tool steels are steels used to make tools. The hardness and resistance to deformation makes tool steel the perfect material to use to create tools used to forge other materials. Tool steels have six other types, they are water-quenched steel, air-quenched steel, shock-resisting steel, heat-treated steels, hot-work steel, and special purpose steels.

Importance of Steel
in Modern Construction

Steel is so versatile that it even the most ambitious architects can achieve their most daring projects, and it’s one of the most important parts of building great structures such as stadiums and landmarks, and the everyday places people visit such as shopping centers and commercial complexes.

One of the reasons why steel is favorably used in construction is that it’s sustainable. It can be recycled over and over again. If a building is demolished, the metal can still be melted down and reused to create new metal. The endless recycling does not have any adverse effects on the steel. Steel can be extracted from a demolition site and reused, which means that there is not much waste left on the site.

Steel also requires little upkeep and is very durable. The building constructed with steel maximizes the strength and durability of steel, which decreases and minimizes the life costs of the building.

The quality of steel is consistently high standard. Steel is put through exact and controlled environments and conditions, which makes the steel withstand whatever conditions it will go through after construction.

Steel does not deteriorate as fast as other materials used for construction and lasts even longer than the set date for reconditioning, which means that buildings can avoid demolition, and the construction site would not have to be subjected to redevelopment, which are both harmful to the environment. This can result in minimal cost for the repair of the structure.