What are the properties of steel?

The physical properties of steel include: high strength, low weight, durability, ductility and corrosive resistance. Steel offers great strength, even though it is light in weight. In fact, the ratio of strength to weight for steel is lower than any other building material.

  • Steel has high Tensile Strength
  • It is malleable – allowing it to be easily shaped
  • Durability – allowing the steel to withstand external forces.
  • Conductivity – it is good at conducting heat and electricity, useful for cookware and wiring.
  • Lustre – steel has an attractive, silvery appearance.
  • Rust Resistance – the addition of various elements in varying percentages can give steel in the form of stainless steel it’s high corrosion resistance.

HARDNESS is the material’s ability to withstand friction and abrasion. It is worth noting that, while it may mean the same as strength and toughness in colloquial language, this is very different from strength and toughness in the context of metal properties.

TOUGHNESS is difficult to define but generally is the ability to absorb energy without fracturing or rupturing. It is also defined as a material’s resistance to fracture when stressed. It is usually measured in foot lbs. per sq. in or Joules per sq. centimeter. It is important to distinguish this from hardness as a material that severely deforms without breaking, could be considered extremely tough, but not hard.

YEILD strength is a measurement of the force required to start the deformation of the material (i.e. bending or warping).

TENSILE strength is a measurement of the force required to break the material.

ELONGATION (or Ductility) is the “Degree” to which the material can be stretched or compressed before it breaks. It is expressed as a percent of the length being tested and is between the tensile strength and yield strength (i.e. what percent does the material bend before breaking).

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