5 Common Alloying Elements to Use with Steel
An alloy is a metal made from combining several types of metals, along with some other elements. An alloy can enhance the properties of a metal, making it stronger and, in some cases, more valuable. Here are five metals that are often put in an alloy with steel for purposes of enhancing their properties.
Silicon is always combined with steel during manufacturing processes, so it is a very common alloy. It is used as a cleansing agent to deoxidize and remove impurities from iron ore during smelting. Silicon is also very useful in enhancing other properties of steel. In an alloy, silicon can make steel harder or stronger, and it also can add to its magnetism. Stronger grades of steel always contain larger amounts of silicon in the alloy.
Copper is often used in small amounts in steel alloys. Copper can increase the resistance to corrosion and prevent rust. Weathering steel usually has more copper in the alloy than does carbon steel, as weathering steel will be used in more corrosive conditions.
Tungsten is found in differing amounts in steel alloys. Some tungsten is found in steel residually, but more is often added to increase certain properties of the steel. Tungsten is a very hard metal with a high melting temperature, so it can increase the hardness and temperature resistance of steel in an alloy. It also works to improve the resistance to corrosion in a steel alloy.
Boron, in just tiny amounts, can greatly impact steel’s mechanical properties, especially its hardness. Ironically, however, too much boron added to steel can lessen its ability to harden, as it can become brittle. Steel alloys with boron can be created for numerous proprietary grades, and these alloys are often used in components for equipment that must endure a lot of wear and hard use.
Lead can be added to a steel alloy, but it is not an actual alloy element. That’s because lead will not attach to other elements in an alloy, as it is not steel soluble. So, while lead will not actually impact steel mechanically, it can act as a lubricant that helps when steel must be cut. It is not recommended for use in steel that is welded, however, as it can lead to cracking in the metal. If you’re interested in purchasing steel and its alloys, don’t be afraid to contact us.