Four Grades of Structural Steel

structural steel beams and girders in a building under constructionStructural steel is used in just about every type of construction project, from erecting buildings and bridges to assembling parts for ships. It can take the shape of I-beams, C-beams, HSS, and other profiles. And though the phrase refers to a specific architectural element, structural steel can be categorized into four types: carbon steel, alloy steel, heat-treated carbon steel, and heat-treated alloy steel. Let’s take a closer look at these types of structural steel.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is made by adding carbon to molten iron. Indeed, its chemical makeup is almost entirely iron, with carbon and other elements only accounting for around 2%. Even this small amount of carbon, however, is enough to transform iron into a much stronger material that can be used in structural applications. Carbon steel is the most popular type of structural steel in the industry—about 90% of structural steel manufactured in the United States is carbon steel—and widely used in construction, shipbuilding, and similar applications.

Alloy Steel

To make carbon steel even stronger, other elements, such as chromium, molybdenum, and nickel, can be added to the chemical makeup. The larger the presence of these alloys, the more of their properties will be present in the steel. For instance, these alloys can increase hardness, ductility, and corrosion resistance. Alloy steel falls into three general subcategories:

  • Low-alloy steel – Alloying elements make up 5% or less of the total composition.
  • Medium-alloy steel – Alloying elements make up 6 to 12% of the material.
  • High-alloy steel – More than 12% of the steel comprises alloying elements (stainless steel is a high-alloy steel).

Heat-Treated Carbon Steel

Heating carbon steel increases its strength and hardness. And though there are plenty of uses for heat-treated carbon steel, the process limits its use in certain applications. That’s because heating carbon steel also reduces its flexibility and ductility, making it more brittle and difficult to fabricate.

Heat-Treated Alloy Steel

When strength is paramount, heat-treated alloy steel is the go-to material. This type of structural steel boasts the benefits of the added alloys, which are paired with the toughness that is added by the heat-treating process. The result is a lightweight steel that is capable of impressive strength.

Fabricating Structural Steel With CNC Plasma Cutting Technology

Structural steel fabrication companies rely on the power of BeamCut to get ahead in a crowded industry. This remarkable CNC plasma cutting technology is equipped with state-of-the-art features to improve cut quality, speed production, and deliver a significant return on investment. Standard features include:

  • FANUC robotics – The six-axis FANUC robotic arm can bevel 360 degrees and process nearly any shape or profile in the industry.
  • Hypertherm plasma – The X-Definition plasma system from Hypertherm is one of the most powerful of its kind.
  • CNC software – User-friendly CNC controls automate fabrication of structural steel and plate.

With premium features and automated operations, BeamCut helps professional structural steel fabricators meet their lean manufacturing goals and take their business to the next level of success.

To learn more about BeamCut and the free and unlimited lifetime support that comes with it, contact us today.