Handbook of Steel Data: American and European
|Publication Date:||1 January 2009|
The expression ferrous materials is used to mean the metallic element iron and the entire range of iron-based metallic alloys. There are a great many different ferrous materials, but they can be divided into three basic categories, namely wrought iron, steel and cast iron.
Wrought iron, which is no longer commercially produced, is a relatively pure iron containing nonmetallic slag inclusions. Modem wrought iron products are actually made oflow carbon steel.
Steels are iron-based alloys whose most important component element next to iron itself is carbon. The carbon contents of steels are low, usually below 1%, but the presence and amount of carbon in the steel have a major effect on its behavior in service. By far the most common type of steel is plain carbon steel, i.e. steel containing only iron and carbon plus small amounts of manganese and, usually, silicon or aluminum. The manganese, silicon and aluminum are added to compensate for the presence of the impurities sulfur, oxygen and nitrogen. Another important type of steel, the alloy steels, contain in addition to the above-mentioned elements, significant quantities of such elements as chromium, nickel and molybdenum, which distinguishes them from plain carbon steels. A specialized range of alloy steels, known as stainless steels, contain a minimum of 10.5% chromium. Tool steels, the final type to be considered here, are specialized carbon or alloy steels which are capable of functioning under the demanding service conditions associated with the working and shaping of metallic and non-metallic materials into desired forms. Some steel is used in the form of steel castings, but most steel objects are mechanically worked into their final forms and are thus categorized as wrought products.
Cast irons contain much higher carbon and silicon levels than steels, typically 3-5% carbon and 1-3% silicon. These comprise another category of ferrous materials, which are intended to be cast from the liquid state to the final desired shape.
Ferrous alloys dominate the world of construction materials. Their widespread applications are the result of a broad range of desirable material properties combined with favorable economics. Iron is the least expensive of all the metals and the second most abundant in nature.
This chapter supplies an introduction to the metallurgical aspects of ferrous materials, especially steels. Subsequent chapters provide data on many aspects of various ferrous materials. More details relating to the metallurgy of particular products are discussed in introductions to the sections on Carbon and Alloy Steels, Cast Steels, Cast Irons, Tool Steels and Stainless Steels.