Carbon steel in industry

Carbon steel is a highly valued material in industry because of its strength and durability. Its characteristics make it ideal for a variety of applications in different sectors, such as mining, construction and architecture. In this article, we will tell you more about carbon steel and some of its most common uses.

What is carbon steel?

Carbon steel is a type of steel that, as its name indicates, has a certain percentage of carbon in its composition. This, as we shall see below, affects its mechanical properties, making it one of the most widely used and versatile materials in the world, especially in industry and engineering. Its carbon content can vary between 0.08% and 1.40%, depending on the type of steel.

Carbon steel types

Carbon steels are usually classified into three different types according to their percentage of carbon:

  • Low carbon steel: Approximately 0.08% to 0.25% carbon. Characterized by being soft, flexible, moldable, and relatively easy to work.
  • Medium-carbon steel: Harder and more durable. On the other hand, its ductility is lower and it is more difficult to work than low-carbon steel.
  • High carbon steel: Carbon in a proportion from 0.60% to 1.40%. The hardest and toughest of all types of carbon steel. It is difficult to shape and more difficult to work.


What are its properties and why is it so highly valued in industry?

As we have mentioned, carbon steel has many properties that make it highly valued in the industrial world. Among these are:

  • High wear resistance: Even steels with low carbon content have good wear resistance.
  • Tenacity: They are able to absorb impacts and, depending on their degree of malleability, deform without breaking.
  • Machinability: They can be worked and cut with all the most common tools.
  • Durability: Due to its good hardness and resistance, carbon steel has a long service life.
  • Low cost: It is affordable and easy to find.
  • Low environmental impact: Carbon steel is fully recyclable.

Uses of carbon steel in particular industries

Certain properties make carbon steel especially useful in various industries:

Architecture and construction

In construction and architecture, carbon steel is used regularly. This is mainly because it can be easily shaped, while withstanding great weights and loads, making it perfect for high-rise buildings, bridges, and large structures, among other things.


Carbon steel is also used in the manufacture and construction of different vehicles: engine parts, bodies or axles, among many other things. Since vehicles are exposed to high loads and vibration throughout their lives, materials such as carbon steel need to be used to allow them to withstand these without damage.

Railway sector

In the railway world, carbon steel is also widely used. Not only for rails and crossties, but also for locomotives and cars. As with autos and trucks, trains and their components are also exposed to pressure and vibrations, which makes this material perfect.

Aerospace sector

Carbon steel is also used in aerospace. It can be found in airplanes, rockets and even in satellites and exploration robots, because it is highly resistant to corrosion and is durable over long periods of time.

Shipbuilding industry

In shipbuilding, carbon steel is mainly used for its high tensile strength and its resistance to abrasion and corrosion by salt water. These properties make it ideal in the construction of ships and maritime equipment.

Mining industry

In mining, carbon steel can be found in structures, tools, transport cages, and in machinery for the extraction and processing of minerals. Crushers, mills and drills are also made of carbon steel due to the metal’s ability to withstand extreme loads and high temperatures.

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