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    Table of Contents

    Steel and stainless steel are two important industrial commodities used for a variety of purposes like building machinery, construction of buildings, etc. These are both metal alloys made of a combination of metals and other elements. Doing an analysis on steel vs stainless steel helps businesses find out which material is the best for the desired purpose.

    What is steel?

    To know what steel is, you must first learn the term alloy. An alloy is a substance made by combining two or more metals together. For example, sterling silver is an alloy of silver and copper.

    Steel is an alloy of iron. Iron mixed with small amounts of carbon forms steel. Although all steel is made of iron and carbon, there are different types of steel which contain different compositions of each element. Steel can include other elements like nickel, molybdenum, manganese, titanium, boron, cobalt, or vanadium.

    Most common form of steel used in industries is steel coil. Steel coil is a sheet or strip of steel that is wound or coiled after rolling raw steel in a steel sheet rolling machine. It is manufactured by placing a slab into a continuous rolling machine to reduce its thickness until it forms a sheet. This sheet is then wound into coils.

    Also read: Aluminium coil: Know features, uses, grades and more

    Properties of steel

    The properties of steel are also based on its constituents. When elements are mixed during the steel manufacturing process, it can increase the strength, hardness, etc., according to the element being added.

    Here are the properties of steel:

    • Hardness

    Steel shows excellent ability to withstand friction and abrasion. This makes it resistant to scratching, abrasion, and deformation contributing to the durability of the metal.

    • Toughness

    Toughness is the property of steel which is defined as its ability to absorb energy without fracturing or breaking. Simply put, it is the resistance of a material to fracture when stressed. It depends heavily on strength as well as flexibility.

    • Ductility

    One of the most important mechanical properties of steel is ductility. It is the capacity of the material to change shape when force is applied to it in such a way that it does not crack. This property makes it possible for it to be shaped into various shapes and structures.

    • Tensile strength

    This refers to the capacity of steel to withstand tensile stresses. Steel is a material with high tensile strength. The average tensile strength of structural steel is 400 megapascals (MPa), while the average tensile strength of carbon steel is 841 MPa

    Tensile – Tensile is a term that is used to refer to materials under tension.Tensile stress – When external force is applied on an object, it starts to stretch along the direction of the applied force. This force applied is called tensile stress.
    • Yield strength

    Yield strength refers to the maximum stress a material can withstand before its bends or warps. Steel has high yield strength which makes it an ideal constituent in buildings, automobiles and weapon systems.

    Also read: Steel vs Rubber – Learn which is more elastic, steel or rubber?

    What is stainless steel?

    Stainless steel is an alloy of iron and chromium and contains at least 10.5% of chromium. The exact components and ratios of both the substances will vary based on the grade and the purpose it is being manufactured.

    Common additives in stainless steel include:

    • Nickel
    • Carbon
    • Copper
    • Manganese
    • Silicon
    • Molybdenum
    • Nitrogen
    • Sulfur

    The exact composition of stainless steel is strictly measured and assessed throughout the alloying process to ensure it exhibits the required qualities.

    Also read: Steel utensils – Stainless steel utensils and kitchen wares

    Properties of stainless steel

    Stainless steel has similar properties to that of steel as it is also an alloy of iron. The major difference when we do a steel vs stainless steel analysis is that the chromium content of 10.5% present in the stainless steel gives it superior resistance to corrosion in comparison to other types of steels.

    It is for these properties that steel, especially stainless steel is used in contemporary steel railing designs for gates and balconies. It’s corrosion resistant, functional, durable, and aesthetically pleasing.

    Differences between steel and stainless steel

    If you look at the composition of steel and stainless steel, you will find that iron is the main ingredient. Steel vs stainless steel use cases are different due to stainless steel’s chromium content which gives it increased corrosion resistance. Here are some differences between steel and stainless steel:

    Steel Stainless steel
    Made of iron, carbon and other metals Made of iron, chromium and other metal
    High tensile strength Lower tensile strength and can easily be fabricated compared to steel
    Prone to corrosion Shows excellent corrosion resistance
    Not resistant to heat Shows high temperature resistance
    Rusts in moist conditions Features excellent rusts resistance
    Used for construction of ships and pipelines, automotive applications, chemical processing machines, etc. Used for manufacture of kitchen appliances, medical instruments and food processing machines

    Stainless steel can rust if you leave it exposed to air, moisture, chemicals, etc., for long hours. However, it can be cleaned off easily using different methods including homemade and commercial cleaning solutions.


    1. What is the difference between carbon steel and stainless steel?

    Carbon steel vs stainless steel analysis shows that they have different composition which gives them their desired properties.

    Carbon steel – Made of iron and carbon, it is the most produced steel in the world. Carbon steel is classified into three subcategories: low carbon steel (0.03-0.15% carbon), medium carbon steel (0.25%-0.50% carbon), and high carbon steel (0.55%-1.10% carbon). As the amount of carbon increases, the steel becomes harder and difficult to bend and weld.

    Stainless steel – Stainless steel is an alloy of iron with chromium and other additives. These elements make up 11-30% of stainless-steel alloy composition while iron is the main constituent. This is the most widely known steel alloy that is commonly used in food handling, food processing, medical instruments, hardware, and appliances as it has high corrosion resistance.

    1. What is the difference between mild steel and stainless steel?

    Here are some factors that differentiate mild steel and stainless steel:

    • Stainless steel is harder than mild steel, as stainless steel contains chromium and nickel.
    • Owing to the low carbon content of mild steel it is more ductile than stainless steel.
    • Mild steel is easily weldable compared to stainless steel
    • Stainless steel has more visual appeal compared to stainless steel
    1. Is stainless steel better than steel?

    Stainless steel is better when it comes to corrosion resistance and fabrication. Also, steel prices are low when compared to stainless steel which is expensive.

    Priyanka Babu

    Priyanka is a seasoned content marketing professional with more than 6 years of experience crafting various forms of business and technology sector content. Her insightful writing tackles critical issues faced by small-scale manufacturing businesses. Priyanka’s clear and concise communication empowers businesses to make informed decisions and thrive in today’s dynamic business environment.