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Construction industry is dominated by a type of steel called mild steel. Mild steel is an immensely strong material. This immense strength contributes to structural integrity of the infrastructure which is a great advantage to buildings.
What is mild steel?
Mild steel is a type of carbon steel made with low amounts of carbon, therefore, it is also called low carbon steel. The distinguishing factor between carbon steel and mild steel is that carbon steel has a higher amount of carbon while mild steel has a relatively low amount of carbon.
Unlike other types of steel, mild steel is not an alloy steel. It does not contain large amounts of added elements like chromium, molybdenum, etc., but does contain iron. Since the amount of carbon and alloying element is relatively low in mild steel, it has many unique properties that can differentiate it from higher carbon and alloy steels.
The carbon content usually found in mild steel is about 0.05% to 0.25% by weight while carbon steel contains 0.30% to 2.0% carbon. If carbon content exceeds 0.25% then the steel would be classified as cast iron.
Mild steel follows the same manufacturing process of steel. The basic process followed for manufacturing steel is by mixing carbon and iron at very high temperatures, above 2600°F.
Now as the steel industry is becoming sustainable, all steel factories have started to use steel scrap instead of carbon for their production process. Steel scrap is mixed with molten iron and oxygen is blown into this mixture at a really high temperature, to reduce the overall carbon content.
Once the carbon content is in the range of 0.05% to 0.25%, the resulting mixture is solidified to form mild steel. It can be solidified into slabs, bars, wires, etc.
Its impressive properties are responsible for growing use in a variety of industries. Some mild steel’s physical properties are as follows:
- Highly ductile improving weldability
- Malleable with cold-forming possibilities
- High tensile strength
- Magnetic properties due to its ferrite content
Advantages and disadvantages of mild steel
Mild steel presents some advantages as well as some disadvantages:
- Economical building material
- Lightweight and portable
- More weldable than other types of steel
- More machinable compared to other types of steel, meaning it can be cut, drilled, and shaped using machine tools
- Less strong compared to other types of steel
- Low corrosion resistance
- Less heat resistance
- Less resilient
- Less yield strength compared to other types of steel
Uses and applications
Here are some of the common mild steel uses in various industries:
Mild steel showcases excellent ductility which makes it a great raw material for steel pipes. Being flexible, it can withstand extreme atmospheres especially when pipelines shrink in cold weather or expand on hot days. They can also be easily welded with each other making it an excellent material for long-winding pipeline construction projects.
- Automotive components
Mild steel is used in the manufacturing of vehicle chassis, body panels, and various automotive components due to its strength and formability.
- Gates and fences
Since mild steel is flexible and ductile, it is an excellent candidate for building fences and gates. It can be shaped into desired designs and at the same time lends strength to structure with high resistance to breakage.
Construction industry requires materials that can be welded easily and are able to withstand changing loads. Mild steel, with its high tensile strength and flexibility, therefore, is one of the most used raw materials in the industry. Some mild steel grades are called structural steel for this reason.
It also meets seismic and wind requirements and is an ideal construction material for disaster prone areas. Additionally, it cannot be damaged by insects and is resistant to rot and fire.
- Machine components
Owing to its weldability and machinability, the material can be cut and shaped using machine tools easily to build precision components for different machines. It is commonly used in the engineering industry for making machines and automobile industry to make automobile parts.
Mild steel is used in the railway industry for making tracks, railway lines, and various components of trains.
Many types of furniture, including tables, chairs, and cabinets, are made from mild steel due to its strength and the ease with which it can be molded into various designs.
It is utilised in the construction of infrastructure like guardrails, street lighting poles, and signposts.
- Electrical transmission
It is used in electrical transmission towers and pylons due to its ability to support heavy power lines.
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