Some inexperienced metal fabrication enthusiasts may not know the difference between different types of steel, such as carbon steel and stainless steel. Such people may order a type of steel that may not be the best for their specific application. This article discusses the key differences between carbon steel and stainless steel. Use this information to make an informed decision about the best type of steel for your DIY project.
Carbon steel differs significantly from stainless steel when you consider the ability of these metals to resist corrosion. Stainless steel has chromium in it. That chromium combines with oxygen in air or moisture in order to form a protective coating of chromium oxide on the surface of the stainless steel. That layer shields the metal from corrosion.
Carbon steel easily succumbs to corrosion. This is because oxygen quickly combines with the iron in the carbon steel. That reaction forms iron oxide (rust). This chemical reaction can quickly consume the metal if nothing, such as painting the metal, is done to stop that corrosion. You should therefore avoid using carbon steel for an application where the metal will be exposed to agents of corrosion, such as salty water.
Are aesthetics a major concern during your project? Stainless steels usually offer better aesthetics when compared to carbon steels. For instance, the mirror finish of stainless steel can make it to have a very reflective surface appearance. Such a finish is hard to achieve with carbon steels. Furthermore, carbon steels must be painted in order to prevent them from tarnishing rapidly due to the oxidation of their surface. Stainless steels don't need any extra finishing once you have polished the surface to the desired level.
Carbon steels are generally more affordable when compared to stainless steels. This is because stainless steels usually contain different metals, such as chromium and nickel. Those alloying metals increase the cost of producing stainless steel. That high cost of production affects the cost at which a client can buy the stainless steel. You should therefore consider using carbon steel in case you are operating on a limited budget.
As you can see, each of the metals above has its own pros and cons. It may therefore be necessary for you to talk to a stainless steel supplier for additional help in choosing the type of steel that will be best suited for your specific project. This technical help is particularly important since other attributes, such as the mechanical properties of the metals, must be considered during the selection process. The expert will help you to pick the right grade.
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