The properties of low carbon steel

Written by neal litherland
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The properties of low carbon steel
Low carbon steel has a variety of different properties. (steel image by szpunt from

Steel is a common material for building and forming important structures, from the skeletons of office buildings to the spans of bridges. It makes up the frames of cars, and it's used to make a variety of machine parts. However, steel comes in a number of varieties, and one of these types is called low-carbon steel, which has different properties than those of other types of steel.

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General Properties

In order for steel to be considered low carbon steel, there are certain characteristics it must meet. For instance, the steel has to have less than .3 per cent carbon in its total make-up to be considered low carbon. Low carbon steel also contains perlite and ferrite as major components. Low carbon steel is generally used straight from the forming process, whether that process is hot forming or cool forming, because that's when it's most workable and easiest to form.


Low carbon steel has some of the best weldability of any metal. The reason for this is precisely due to the low carbon content of the metal. As carbon is added to steel, the steel gets harder and harder. This is a desirable outcome if the steel is going to be used structurally, or in a situation where strength is of the utmost importance. However, the harder the steel gets with more carbon, the more prone to cracking it is when you attempt to weld it. As such, low carbon steel doesn't have that problem.


Low carbon steel also possesses good formability. This means that low carbon steel is easier to form into certain shapes, through such methods as pouring, moulding and pressing. Also, low carbon steel is used for case hardened machine parts, chain, rivets, stampings, nails, wire and pipe. The ability of the steel to be turned into a number of different forms makes it quite versatile. When using low carbon steel, strength isn't the primary concern, because what you lose in rigidity, you gain in formability.

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