What is Mild Steel and What is it Used For?
Steel is one of the most common metals on the planet. There are over 3,500 grades of steel, each one with different properties that lend themselves to all manner of applications. You have steel in your car and on your home appliances – you likely even eat using stainless steel utensils. It’s such a prolific material that we all rely on so heavily, and yet, you’re probably only familiar with a few of the types.
There are four broad categories of steel, and they are:
- Carbon steel
- Alloy steel
- Tool steel
- Stainless steel
There’s no doubt that you’ve heard of stainless steel and tool steel, but you might not have heard of one of the most common types, mild steel.
What is mild steel?
In short, mild steel is a type of carbon steel. Carbon steel is a steel alloy that contains a higher level of carbon mixed with iron. There are three types of carbon steel: mild, medium and high. Mild steel is sometimes called low carbon steel because of the fact it contains less carbon compared to its medium and high counterparts. Mild steel typically has around 0.05% to 0.25% carbon by weight.
As a whole, carbon steel can have as much as 2.5% carbon per weight. If it has any more carbon than 2.5%, it is no longer carbon steel and is instead cast iron.
Properties of mild steel
As a result of containing almost entirely iron and carbon and no other elements, mild steel has a number of unique benefits that can’t be replicated through other materials and types of steel. Firstly, carbon steel in all its forms is one of the strongest types of steel on the market. Mild steel is not quite as strong as high steel, but this does have an advantage of its own.
Generally speaking, because carbon steel is so hard, it’s incredibly tricky to mould and shape. Mild steel contains a lesser amount of carbon which means it’s more ductile and easier to weld. This lends itself to malleability, making mild steel a good option for applications that need moulding.
Whilst mild steel isn’t as strong as high steel, it still has an exceptional tensile and high impact strength. The main drawback, though, is that it rusts. Chromium is typically added at a 10%-12% volume to prevent steel from rusting, but because mild steel only contains iron and carbon, it’s not rust-proof. With this in mind, mild steel does require coating to stop moisture causing rust.
As a result of the high iron content, mild steel is highly magnetic. It’s also cheaper than other types of steel, making it an affordable option with plenty of benefits to go along with the lower price.
Uses of mild steel
With so many desirable properties, mild steel is used across a wide range of applications, including construction. It’s incredibly strong which makes it ideal for weight-bearing applications, but it can be easily welded which means it can be joined with other parts to form structural sections. For this reason, mild steel is sometimes called structural steel. In addition to it being fireproof and rot-resistant, as well as the fact it’s relatively cheap, mild steel is commonly used for things like bridges and internal building structures.
Mild steel is commonly used in machinery, specifically automobile manufacturing. This is because of its tensile strength and weldability properties. Clutch housings, wheel covers, screws, brackets, and control arms are all commonly made from mild steel.
Stainless steel used to dominate the cutlery and cookware market, but an increasing number of chefs are turning to mild steel. It can withstand higher temperatures and remains sharper for longer, making it ideal for cutting knives.
If you look out your window, you’ll probably see a fence made of mild steel. Its malleability and high strength make it the perfect material for fencing, and when painted with the appropriate paint, it can end up being resistant to rust.
Buy Mild Steel Online
Here at Rapid Metals, we provide mild steel in varying forms. We supply mild steel:
- Box section
- Steel box
We cut mild steel to size and deliver across the UK. We have a wide range of mild steel on our website, but if you can’t find what you need, please contact us and we’ll be happy to advise.