Classification of steel
Most commercial steels are classified into one of three groups:
Plain carbon steels
Plain Carbon Steels
These steels usually are iron with less than 1 percent carbon, plus small amounts of manganese, phosphorus, sulfur, and silicon. The weldability and other characteristics of these steels are primarily a product of carbon content, although the alloying and residual elements do have a minor influence.
Plain carbon steels are further subdivided into four groups:
Low . Often called mild steels, low-carbon steels have less than 0.30 percent carbon and are the most commonly used grades. They machine and weld nicely and are more ductile than higher-carbon steels.
Medium . Medium-carbon steels have from 0.30 to 0.45 percent carbon. Increased carbon means increased hardness and tensile strength, decreased ductility, and more difficult machining.
High . With 0.45 to 0.75 percent carbon, these steels can be challenging to weld. Preheating, postheating (to control cooling rate), and sometimes even heating during welding become necessary to produce acceptable welds and to control the mechanical properties of the steel after welding.
Very High . With up to 1.50 percent carbon content, very high-carbon steels are used for hard steel products such as metal cutting tools and truck springs. Like high-carbon steels, they require heat treating before, during, and after welding to maintain their mechanical properties.
When these steels are designed for welded applications, their carbon content is usually below 0.25 percent and often below 0.15 percent. Typical alloys include nickel, chromium, molybdenum, manganese, and silicon, which add strength at room temperatures and increase low-temperature notch toughness.
These alloys can, in the right combination, improve corrosion resistance and influence the steel's response to heat treatment. But the alloys added can also negatively influence crack susceptibility, so it's a good idea to use low-hydrogen welding processes with them. Preheating might also prove necessary. This can be determined by using the carbon equivalent formula, which we'll cover in a later issue.
For the most part, we're talking about stainless steel here, the most important commercial high-alloy steel. Stainless steels are at least 12 percent chromium and many have high nickel contents. The three basic types of stainless are:
Martensitic stainless steels make up the cutlery grades. They have the least amount of chromium, offer high hardenability, and require both pre- and postheating when welding to prevent cracking in the heat-affected zone (HAZ).
Ferritic stainless steels have 12 to 27 percent chromium with small amounts of austenite-forming alloys.
Austenitic stainless steels offer excellent weldability, but austenite isn't stable at room temperature. Consequently, specific alloys must be added to stabilize austenite. The most important austenite stabilizer is nickel, and others include carbon, manganese, and nitrogen.
Special properties, including corrosion resistance, oxidation resistance, and strength at high temperatures, can be incorporated into austenitic stainless steels by adding certain alloys like chromium, nickel, molybdenum, nitrogen, titanium, and columbium. And while carbon can add strength at high temperatures, it can also reduce corrosion resistance by forming a compound with chromium. It's important to note that austenitic alloys can't be hardened by heat treatment. That means they don't harden in the welding HAZ.
Baoxin insists on routine testing of raw materials