When consulting on projects that require our bespoke knowledge of architectural metalwork, we are often asked about the different types of steel and how they can be applied to various projects.
We thought we’d address this issue in the form of a blog article, to help the architects and contractors that we work alongside, plan their future projects.
Types of Steel
Steel is one of the basic materials used in today’s civil engineering and construction industry due to its proven high tensile strength and durability.
It is an alloy of iron and carbon and, sometimes, other elements such as chromium. It is often categorised into three groups;
Carbon Steel (Mild steel/High carbon steel)
Carbon Steel is composed of iron and carbon. The percentage of carbon content determines the strength of the metal but also means it will be more brittle.
Low carbon steel (mild steel) – usually grade S275 or S355 is easily re-workable when heated and is quite often used to create metal railings, balustrades, staircases etc.
Medium carbon steel (mild steel) is more often used in structural steelwork. At Essential Projects, due to our ability to manufacture bespoke sizes, we receive lots of enquiries about our expertise in structural steel including beam fabrication.
High Carbon Steel is used in the manufacturing of tools, industrial bodies and high tensile strength wire. We often use brands such as abro 400 or hardox 400 when high carbon steel is required.
Stainless Steel is effectively steel mixed with chromium and sometimes nickel. Used in the industry for its aesthetic and resistance to corrosion, we commonly use stainless steel to fabricate a wide range of bespoke feature balustrades, handrails and lift enclosures.
Stainless steel is also used in the creation of hygienic pipework. Companies such as diaries, breweries and other food manufacturers have commissioned us to fabricate hygienic pipework and other metal components that are going to be used in food and drink production processes such as worktops and splashbacks,
Galvanisation can also be used to help prevent steel from corroding. This is a hot process that involves coating steel in molten zinc. The coating of zinc prevents corrosive substances from reaching the base metal. The zinc also acts as a sacrificial anode, meaning that if the coating is scratched, the remaining zinc will still protect the exposed steel.
Galvanized steel is all around us, in a whole variety of industries including road, rail, energy plants, oil and gas, agriculture, water and waste and sports and leisure. We have supplied galvanised steel plant platforms and industrial access staircases and ladders etc.
It plays an important role for buildings, bridges, facades, signal gantries, gates, balconies and even sculptures. Wherever there is a risk for corrosion of steel, galvanising should be used.
Grades of Steel
A steel’s grade is determined by the amount of carbon, what other alloys it contains, and the way it has been processed.
Steel grading standards are widely used by engineers, architects, and government agencies to ensure quality and consistency of materials.
These standards provide a common language to communicate the properties of steel with great specificity, and guide product manufacturers toward proper processing and application procedures.
At Essential Projects we are proud of our ability to work with engineering companies, manufacturing, retail fit-out, automotive, and food production specialists to fabricate bespoke metalwork.
The combination of expertise within Essential Projects and our sister company Essential Fabrications means there is very little that we can’t fabricate if it involves metalwork – from large commercial structures to brackets, pipework, staircases, refuse cages, fire escapes, access platforms and balustrade. If it is made in metal or glass, we can help.