Steelly resolve and iron-fisted approach. Who would dare to challenge someone with that kind of reputation. Such people are strong and tough. Associating materials such as Iron and Steel with personalities says a lot about the materials concerned. In this article, we will see what these materials are made of that makes them the ‘sterner’ stuff.
Iron and Steel are present in all aspects of the manufacturing process. Companies manufacture all kinds of products with Iron and/or Steel. Many people use the words ‘iron’ and ‘steel’ interchangeably and that may be because they have not read this article yet! Writing this for them and for you as well.
Iron and steel are similar visually. But are different when you knock their character a bit.
Let’s Iron it now!
Iron is a ferromagnetic metal.
Dictionary meaning of Ferromagnetic — “(of a body or substance) having a high susceptibility to magnetization, the strength of which depends on that of the applied magnetizing field, and which may persist after removal of the applied field. This is the kind of magnetism displayed by iron, and is associated with parallel magnetic alignment of neighbouring atoms.”
Iron is lustrous, ductile, shiny and appears to be silvery-white. You would know that metals are naturally occurring and Iron is the fourth most abundant element on Earth’s crust. (Oxygen, Silicon and Aluminium are the first three.) Iron exists in combination with oxygen (oxides) in the Earth’s crust in the following seven ores, mainly: Hematite, Limonite, Goethite, Magnetite(Lodestone), Pyrite, Siderite, Taconite. The percentage of iron present would vary between ores with Hematite and magnetite holding about 70% of Iron.
Iconic structures such as Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty are made of Iron. Iron played a key part in the success of a revolution – the Industrial revolution!!
Pure Iron can be beaten into sheets (malleable) and draw into wires (ductile). Iron reacts with moist air and corrodes (rust). Iron compounds are of two types – ferrous and ferric. Some of the applications for ferrous iron are as iron oxide for colouring chemicals, as iron chloride for medical use, as iron sulfate for dyeing agents. Ferric iron is used in the form of magnetic material in computer hard drives and to manufacture paints & industrial chemicals. Pig ron, cast iron, wrought iron are types of Iron.
What then is Steel?
Steel is a ferrous alloy of iron and carbon. Steel is NOT a metal – although it might show itself off as one. Steel is a man-made alloy and so can’t be naturally occurring. Carbon constitutes only 2% in Steel. While this may seem like a small percentage, it does help to make the alloy a much more harder and so a stronger material in comparison to Iron.
Carbon steel, Alloy steel, Tool steel and Stainless steel are all steel types – each differing in terms of (a) carbon content in them and (b) presence of other elements in them. For example, Alloy steel contain Copper, Manganese, etc making this it stronger and durable than Carbon steel. Steel is made, mostly, out of Pig iron and as per one of the following three processes: Basic Oxygen, Open-hearth, Electric furnace.
Before making steel products, liquid steel is poured into ingots – these are very huge and heavy bars. The ingots are then pressed into what the industry calls as the ‘building blocks’ — Blooms, Slabs, Billets. Further, steel blocks are hot rolled, passed through dyes or mills machines depending on the product to be manufactured. Galvanizing and Electroplating techniques protect the steel product from weathering.
Steel products have become very common in our lives. Manufacturing industries, construction industry, automobile industry, healthcare, food processing industry, as well our own houses and offices all make use of steel in one form or another.
Hope you enjoyed reading the article. We will deep-dive soon.
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