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    Table of Contents

    What is forged steel? What is carbon steel? Is forged steel stronger than regular steel? Is forged carbon steel good? Does forged steel rust? Discussion around these questions is commonplace when talking about forged steel vs carbon steel. After all, the steel industry outlook in India in recent years has been promising and different types of steel metal is being used across construction, manufacturing, engineering, healthcare and other industries. Today, we’ll take a look at forged steel properties, uses and applications, and the difference between forged and carbon steel.

    Also read: Mechanical properties of steel

    What is forged steel?

    Forged steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. Forging is a process, whereby the metal is put under high and accurate temperature and pressure to mould it into desired form and dimension. It has higher ductility and tensile strength and less surface porosity.

    Steel forging can be classified into three main categories (i.e., forged steel grades):

    • Cold forged steel (up to 160◦ for a smooth surface finish)
    • Hot forged steel (950◦ to 1300◦ for good formability)
    • Hardened forged steel (750◦ to 950◦ and less ductile)

    What is carbon steel?

    Carbon steel is an alloy of steel and carbon from which it gets its name. Carbon steel is widely used in marine structures, vehicles and transports, power plants, and other industrial applications. It has high tensile strength, is hard, but also prone to steel corrosion.

    There are majorly, three types of carbon steel based on the quantity of carbon concentration present in them:

    • Low carbon or mild steel (up to 0.30%)
    • Medium carbon steel (0.30% – 0.70%)
    • High carbon steel (0.70% – 2.5%)
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    What’s the difference between forged steel and carbon steel?

    As a steel buyer or user, it’s imperative that you understand what type of steel you require. The price of steel, its availability, properties, seller and multiple other factors must be considered before you buy steel for your business.

    Here, let us look at the difference between forged steel vs carbon steel, and understand which is the right choice for your project.

    Particulars Forged Steel Carbon Steel
    Alloy type Alloy of iron and carbon Alloy of steel with high concentrate of carbon (up to 2.5%)
    Manufacturing process

    (Also read: Steel manufacturing process)

    Produced using steel forging method that involves high temperature heating and application of pressure No special method of production – alloy made by adding high quantity carbon to steel
    Tensile strength High tensile strength and fatigue resistance (suitable for high stress applications) and stronger than carbon steel Low tensile strength and malleable (will be unable to sustain high stress)
    Corrosion resistance

    (Also read: Corrosion and Corten steel)

    High corrosion resistance Low corrosion resistance (needs to be coated or painted to prevent corrosion)
    Longevity More prone to wear and tear Less prone to damage
    Industry application Construction and heavy machinery All engineering projects, tools, automotive components, construction
    Price of steel Expensive compared to other steel types (due to the time-consuming and specialised forging technique of production and hence, availability) Comparatively less expensive (does not require special production technique and is readily available)
    Steel recycle

    (Also read: Steel recycling process and benefits)

    Complex, expensive and time consuming to recycle (has to be melted first) Easy to recycle

    What is drop forging steel?

    If you are familiar with the steel fabrication process, then you will understand that there are costs involved in executing the process. Similarly, for forging steel, there are expenses involved during the forging process, primarily making of dies, hiring talent, equipment maintenance, etc. And it requires specialists and high-precision technique.

    Drop forged steel is therefore steel whose shape has been changed through the drop forging process. Drop forging is a process that is used to change the shape of any given metal. It uses a drop hammer (or press) and impression dies to press and compress steel billets and/or bars into different shapes and forms.

    A steel workpiece is inserted into a die. The lower die (cast) is fixed while the upper die containing the hammer is dropped on the steel workpiece. The workpiece is then beaten using the hammer in high or ambient temperatures. This process continues till the steel takes the shape of the die. Though the die and hammer technique is effective, today, with the use of advanced technology, it’s a high-precision process use to manufacture and shape steel and other metals.

    Does forged steel rust?

    Steel metal when exposed to atmospheric elements will collect rust and corrode. Hence, for any project, you will first have to check the forged steel properties.

    Forged steel contains iron, and any metal with iron in it will collect rust when exposed to moisture, humidity and other atmospheric elements. As such, the recommended way to keep forged steel (e.g., wrought iron railings) rust-free is to keep it dry and use a protecting layer of coating (enamel, oil or paint). It can also occasionally be cleaned with sandpaper to remove any rust formation.

    Remember, though forged steel may rust, it takes longer to rust than ordinary steel and stainless steel.

    Forged steel vs Carbon steel – How to decide what’s right for you?

    Steel metal is used practically across all industries. But while TMT steel bars are extensively used in construction projects, stainless steel is used in making surgical equipment and kitchen utensils, and CRCA steel is used in electrical appliances and automobiles.

    What makes one steel type more relevant than another is its special properties that make it suitable for a project. When you have to decide on which steel type is right for your project, you will have to first consider the carbon and forged steel properties. Is the steel strong? Malleable? Can it be bent or moulded and shaped easily? Is it rust proof? How long lasting is it?

    The properties of forged steel make it strong though expensive. Carbon steel on the other hand is less expensive, readily available but does not have the strength or high resistance like forged steel.

    In this respect, it’s also important to remember that most projects require different types of steel. So, unless it’s a specific requirement, it’s likely that you will need a mix of forged, carbon, mild, galvanised and corrugated steel.

    So, when you have to decide whether to go for forged steel or carbon steel, check what’s best suited for the project. Also, never forget to check for alternatives to forged and carbon steel. You might just find a more suitable type of steel.

    Sohini Banerjee

    Sohini is a seasoned content writer with 12 years’ experience in developing marketing and business content across multiple formats. At Tata nexarc, she leverages her skills in crafting curated content on the Indian MSME sector, steel procurement, and logistics. In her personal time, she enjoys reading fiction and being up-to-date on trends in digital marketing and the Indian business ecosystem.