Is Stainless Steel Better than Carbon Steel?

stainless vs carbon steel - stainless steel carbon steel comparison

Stainless vs Carbon steel

Iron and carbon are constituents of steel. The carbon composition of steel is not constant. To explain, read up on Stainless vs Carbon steel Comparison. It varies depending on the type and grade of steel concerned. 0.2% to 1.2% carbon content by weight is namely common for steels. Talking about the types of steel, one in particular kind of steel is specifically called carbon steel due to the high amount of carbon in the composition.

Read on and find out about stainless and carbon steel comparison.

What is Carbon Steel?

The steel with carbon as the main alloying element is carbon steel. The properties of carbon steel change too depending on the percentage of carbon that it has. Based on the amount of carbon, we can classify carbon steels into three categories. These are:

  • Medium Carbon Steel
  • High Carbon Steel
  • Ultra High Carbon Steel

Ultra High Carbon Steel

The composition of carbon in the high carbon steels range from 0.30% to 1.7%. Thus adding even a miniscule amount of carbon to the composition of steel can make a huge difference.

Specifically there is about 1.0% to 2% of carbon the ultra high carbon steel.

The high amount of carbon in the steel allows the material to withstand extremely high temperatures. This is the reason why professionals can carry out heat treatments quite easily on ultra high carbon steel. One can not say the same for other forms of carbon steel.

Common Features of Carbon Steel

The common features of carbon steel include great strength and hardiness too. This is the reason why experts often use carbon steel in a number of different construction applications.

The harder and stronger a material is, the more suitable it is for construction purposes. Therefore, Carbon steel is not without its flaws.

It is quite unsuitable for applications that require the material to have a certain degree of flexibility too. In particular, carbon steel has low ductility.

Final Stainless vs Carbon steel Comparison

Stainless steel is undoubtedly very different from any other form of steel. That is including the carbon steel that has been discussed above. What makes stainless steel unique is its impeccable corrosion resistance. Stainless steel has the ability to NOT corrode or rust under normal circumstances?  (Stainless steel can corrode under extreme conditions).

The difference between stainless steel and carbon steel lies in the amount of chromium in the composition. The presence of chromium causes the formation of an inert chromium oxide layer on the surface of the stainless steel. For example, presence measures about 10.5% to 11%. Consequently this inert oxide layer is what gives rise to the corrosion resistance of stainless steel.

On one hand since chromium is not present in carbon steel, the corrosion resistance of carbon steel is nowhere near as good as that of stainless steel.

This feature alone disqualifies as a worth candidate for several applications where stainless steel is used. When it comes to choosing a material for construction, automobiles, machineries and even surgical tools. Stainless steel indeed gets the nod ahead of carbon steel.

This also happens when the increased corrosion resistance of stainless steel allows it to be much more durable than carbon steel.

If durability and corrosion resistance are key criteria for standardizing steels, stainless steel is undeniably better choice instead carbon steel. 

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