Mechanical Properties of Mild Steel

Written by david scott
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Mechanical Properties of Mild Steel
Most construction steel is mild steel. (large steel girders image by Yali Shi from

Steel is made up of carbon and iron, with much more iron than carbon. In fact, at the most, steel can have about 2.1 per cent carbon. Mild steel is one of the most commonly used construction materials. It is very strong and can be made from readily available natural materials. It is known as mild steel because of its relatively low carbon content.

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Mild steel usually contains 40 points of carbon at most. One carbon point is .01 per cent of carbon in the steel. This means that it has at most .4 per cent carbon. Most steels have other alloying elements other than carbon to give them certain desirable mechanical properties. 1018 steel, a common type of mild steel, contains approximately .6 per cent to .9 per cent manganese, up to .04 per cent phosphorus, and up to .05 per cent sulphur. Varying these chemicals affects properties such as corrosion resistance and strength.

Physical Properties: Strength

Mild steel is very strong due to the low amount of carbon it contains. In materials science, strength is a complicated term. Mild steel has a high resistance to breakage. Mild steel, as opposed to higher carbon steels, is quite malleable, even when cold. This means it has high tensile and impact strength. Higher carbon steels usually shatter or crack under stress, while mild steel bends or deforms.

Quantitative Physical Properties

Mild steel has a density of .112 Kilogram per cubic inch. It melts at 1410 degrees Celsius. It has a specific heat of around .122 British Thermal Units (BTU) per pound, per cubic inch.


Mild steel is especially desirable for construction due to its weldability and machinability. Because of its high strength and malleability, it is quite soft. This means that it can be easily machined compared to harder steels. It is also easy to weld, both to itself and to other types of steel. It takes on a nice finish and is polishable. However, it cannot be hardened through heat treatment processes, as higher carbon steels can. This is not entirely a bad thing, because harder steels are not as strong, making them a poor choice for construction projects.

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