Difference between carbon steel and alloy steel
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Difference between carbon steel and alloy steel

Alloy Steel vs Carbon Steel

Steel is an alloy that mostly contains iron. But its properties can be changed to suit specific requirements by adding certain other elements. This explains the differences between alloy steel and carbon steel. As the name indicates, alloy steel has other elements added to it whereas carbon steel is a kind of steel having higher carbon content. There are other differences also that will be talked about in this article.

Carbon steel

Carbon steel is also known as the iron-carbon alloy containing less than 2% carbon WC.
Generally also contain small amounts of silicon, manganese, sulfur, phosphorus and carbon steel, in addition to carbon use can be divided into carbon steel and carbon structural steel, carbon tool steel, and ease of cutting structural steel three categories. Carbon structural steel is divided into building structural steel and machinery manufacturing structural steel two kinds.

According to the carbon steel, carbon content can be divided into low-carbon steel (WC ≤ 0.25%), medium carbon steel (WC0.25% - 0.6%) phosphorus, sulfur content and high-carbon steel (WC> 6%) can be divided into ordinary carbon steel (containing phosphorus, sulfur higher), high-quality carbon steel (containing phosphorus, low sulfur) and high quality steel (phosphorus, sulfur less), generally, the higher carbon content, the higher the hardness, higher strength but lower ductility.

Alloy steel

Alloy steel is a type of steel that has presence of certain other elements apart from iron and carbon. Commonly added elements in alloy steel are manganese, silicon, boron, chromium, vanadium and nickel. The quantity of these metals in alloy steel is primarily dependent upon the use of such steel. Normally alloy steel is made to get desired physical characteristics in the steel.

Alloy steels are divided into low alloy steels and high alloy steels. When the percentage of added elements goes past 8 (in terms of weight), the steel is referred to as high alloy steel. In cases where added elements remain below 8% by weight of the steel, it is a low alloy steel. Low alloy steels are more common in the industry. In general, addition of one or more of such elements to steel makes it harder and more durable. Such steel is also resistant to corrosion and tougher than normal steel. To alter the properties of steel, it needs heat treatment when elements are added to it.

To keep the alloy steel weldable, carbon content needs to be reduced. As such carbon content is lowered down to 0.1% to 0.3% and alloying elements are also decreased in proportion. These alloys of steel are known as high strength, low alloy steels. You would be surprised to know that stainless steel is also an alloy steel with a minimum of 10% of chromium by weight.

In brief Alloy Steel vs Carbon Steel:

  • There are many types of steels such as alloy steel and carbon steel
  • As the names signify, alloy steel is the type of steel formed by addition of various other elements in the steel through heat treatment.
  • Carbon steel on the other hand is steel that has primarily carbon in it and does not require any minimum percentage of other elements.
  • Carbon steel is the type of steel predominantly used in the US
  • Stainless steel is a kind of alloy steel


ASTM A213 T11 Seamless alloy pipes
+ ASTM A335 alloy pipe
ASMT A333 Grade 6 seamless pipes
+ ASTM A333 Alloy pipe

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