It isn’t difficult to find steel bar suppliers in the Philippines. But what exactly is steel, and what is it used for?


What is steel?

Steel is an alloy. An alloy is a mixture of different metals, or a mix of metal and another element. Steel is made of iron and other elements such as manganese, nickel, chromium, and tungsten, but it is usually an iron-carbon alloy, where carbon makes up 2.1% of the steel’s weight. It’s used in constructions and many other applications because of its strength and low cost. If the alloy has more than 2.1% of carbon, it’s called cast iron.


steel philippines used for bridge


What are the different types of steel?

There are four types of steel, carbon steel, alloy steel, stainless steel, and tool steel.


Carbon steel, also called plain-carbon steel, is a metal alloy made up of two elements: iron and carbon. The other elements present in carbon steel are manganese, silicon, and copper. Mixing more carbon with iron makes the steel harder and stronger and more difficult to mold and weld, so there are still other types of carbon steel: mild or low carbon steel, medium carbon steel, high carbon steel, and very high carbon steel.


Alloy steel is steel made with many different elements to improve its properties. Steel is an alloy, but not all alloys are steels, hence the name of this type of steel. Alloy steels are made of iron and carbon, and more common alloyants are nickel, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, silicon, vanadium, and boron. Compared to carbon steels, some of the improved properties of alloy steels are hardness, strength, toughness, and wear and corrosion resistance, and to achieve these improvements, the metal can be put through heat treatment.


Stainless steel is a steel alloy made of iron and chromium, which makes up for a minimum of 10.5% of the metal’s mass. It doesn’t easily rust, corrode, or stain due to water like regular steel. However it is not fully rust-proof. The chromium in stainless steel is responsible for its resistance to corrosion, as it is the once blocking oxygen from spreading and eating into the metal.


Lastly, tool steel is a mix of carbon and alloy steels that is used to make tools. They are used to make tools because of their hardness and resistance to deformation, so they are best for tools for the use of forging other materials. There are six types of tool steels: water-hardening, which are high carbon plain-carbon steel and needs to be water-quenched; cold-work which are either oil-quenched or air-quenched; shock-resisting, steel that have high shock resistance and hardens well because of certain mixes of other metals; high-speed, steels that are heat treated and are used in cutting tools; hot-work, which are steels used to cut or shape materials that are at high temperatures; and special purpose, such as plastic mold steels, other kinds of tool steels, and other kinds of steel that are water-hardened.


What are steel grades?

Steel grades are used to classify steel using the mixture of metals used to make them, and the physical properties that have been improved. These classifications were developed by several standards organizations, such as British Standards, International Organization for Standardization (ISO), European Standards, Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS), German Steel Grades (DIN Standard), and China Steel Grades (GB Standard).


What are the uses of steel in construction?

Steel, and iron, are used widely in the construction of infrastructure like roads, buildings, bridges, railways, modern architecture like airports and skyscrapers, and also residential homes and recreational parks. Most structures are held up by steel skeletons, and concrete walls and pillars use steel bars to reinforce them. It is also used in power tools and cars despite the increase in the usage of aluminum. Construction materials are also made of steel, such as nails, bolts, and screws. Heavy equipment used in construction sites such as bulldozers, backhoe leaders, and pipelayers, among others.


They are used for high-rise buildings, because of the strength, speed of construction, and its low weight; industrial and warehouse buildings, because it can be used to create large spaces at low cost; residential buildings for light gauge steel construction in place of wood framed construction; and temporary structures because they’re easy to put up and remove.


The common reasons why steel products are widely used in construction because they are durable, versatile, and affordable. Because of its high strength to weight ratio, resistance to breakage, steel is very durable, making it ideal to use it for buildings. Aside from its durability, and flexibility, it’s also environmentally friendly, as it is continuously recyclable.


Steel construction is gaining popularity, and many architectural wonders around the world are made of steel. Maybe soon, we’ll see a building made entirely of steel.