Mild steel is tough, ductile and malleable. It has good tensile strength but poor corrosion resistance. It is mainly used as an all-purpose engineering material.
The Popularity of Mild Steel Mild steel, also called carbon steel and plain carbon steel, is a very popular metal and one of the cheapest types of steel available. It's found in almost every metal product. This type of steel contains less than 2 percent carbon, which makes it magnetize well. It is strong without being brittle, malleable and conducts electricity. Since it's relatively inexpensive, mild steel is useful for most projects requiring huge amounts of steel. Approximately 90 percent of all steel products worldwide contain mild steel. It is used in various industries and also found in everyday objects, such as cooking pans.
The Composition of Mild Steel Generally, mild steel comprises 0.16 to 0.18 percent carbon, up to a maximum of 0.25 percent. As an alloy, mild steel also contains 0.7 to 0.9 percent manganese, a maximum of 0.4 percent silicon, a maximum of 0.04 percent sulfur and a maximum of 0.04 percent phosphorous. These added elements help enhance the tensile strength, ductility and hardness of the metal. Mild steel is a variant of hard steels, which makes it much less brittle and enhances its flexibility.
How It Is Made As a carbon steel, it's made in much the same way as other carbon steels. A common way to make it is to melt coal and iron in a blast furnace together. The compound is solidified into a manageable shape, such as a rectangle. The required size of mild steel is then achieved by cold drawing or hot rolling the rectangular shape.
Its Most Important Properties The amount of carbon within mild steel changes its properties to become stronger and harder. Industry-grade mild steel requires 210,000 Mpa elasticity. Because it is a soft material, mild steel is easy to weld, whereas high-carbon steels, such as stainless steel, require the use of specialized welding techniques. Electricity can flow through mild steel easily without impacting its structural integrity. It is ductile and hard without being brittle and is easily annealed. Its malleability makes it ideal for use in construction materials and when constructing pipelines, and it is also ideal as structural steel, such as in the automotive industry. Mild steel has ferromagnetic properties, which means it can be magnetized easily and is, therefore, a good material to make electrical devices from. The metal is easily machined in milling or drilling machines, shapers or lathes.
Its Applications Most everyday products made from steel contain some mild steel material. It's increasingly popular in cookware and is favorable for machine part manufacturing. In the automotive industry, it's used to make vehicle bodies and parts. For construction, it's a favored building frame material. It's also used for metal fencing and gating, increasingly replacing wrought iron designs. Mild steel is a popular material for pipelines and poles.
Its Limitations Mild steel does not have great structural strength, making it unsuitable for building girders, structural beams or other load bearing projects. Due to the high amount of carbon in mild steel, it is prone to rust easily and is therefore bypassed for metals like stainless steel when a rust-free product is required. To prevent mild steel from rusting, it needs to be coated with sealant or paint. Putting a coat of grease or oil on mild steel also helps to protect it from corrosion.