Steel

6 Indisputable Reasons Why Steel is a Champion Among Metals

steel plates

Humans have been using steel for over 3,800 years, starting with simple hand tools and evolving to the sophisticated structures, equipment, and devices we see today. It’s used in everything from engineering to transport, and its applications are as varied as they are numerous.

While it’s hard to say one metal is ‘better’ than all others, there’s no doubt that steel deserves its place in the spotlight. But what exactly makes it such a popular choice?

MG Metals have been supplying the UK with high-quality, custom-cut steel since 1994, including both stainless and mild variants. Join us as we dive into the remarkable properties that give steel its legendary versatility!

1. Strength-to-Weight Ratio

Steel boasts an impressive strength-to-weight ratio, meaning it can withstand immense forces and pressure without buckling under its own weight. This makes it invaluable in applications where durability and structural integrity are key, such as bridges, buildings, car frames, machinery, and much more.

Steel’s impressive strength-to-weight ratio is thanks to a combination of factors:

  • Steel is primarily made up of iron atoms held together by strong metallic bonds. These bonds resist deformation, translating to high tensile strength and overall durability.
  • Adding carbon to iron creates steel alloys. The carbon atoms “lock” with iron atoms, forming microscopic defects called dislocations. These dislocations act like roadblocks, hindering the movement of other atoms and making the material harder to deform.
  • Steel has a face-centred cubic crystal structure. This arrangement optimises packing density, allowing more atoms to fit in a given space and contributing to its overall strength.

2. Malleability

Unlike its rigid iron cousin, steel – particularly low carbon steel – is incredibly malleable and ductile, as its atoms can easily slide past each other. This means it can be bent, rolled, forged, and welded into an infinite variety of shapes, from delicate surgical instruments to intricate car parts.

3. Customisation

Steel’s properties can be easily adjusted by adding specific elements or applying certain processes. This makes the metal even more versatile. Here are some common methods used:

  • Adding other elements into iron to create alloys with different properties. For example, adding chromium produces stainless steel, known for its corrosion resistance, while manganese boosts strength and hardenability.
  • Controlling the temperature and cooling rate during steel treatment. Tempering, for instance, regulates final hardness and reduces brittleness, while normalising relieves internal stresses by heating and cooling in air.
  • Applying coatings and making modifications to the steel surface. For example, carburising (adding carbon to the surface) improves hardness and wear resistance, while galvanising (applying a zinc coating) provides corrosion protection.

4. Affordability

Compared to other metals with similar properties, steel is relatively inexpensive to produce. This affordability, coupled with its exceptional durability, makes it an attractive choice for a wide range of applications. From infrastructure projects to everyday household items, steel delivers value without compromising on quality.

5. Sustainability

Steel is the most recycled material on Earth, retaining its properties cycle after cycle. This reduces reliance on virgin resources and minimises waste. Steel production is also constantly evolving to become more energy-efficient, further bolstering its green credentials.

6. Ongoing Improvements

Steel isn’t resting on its laurels – ongoing research and development are constantly pushing the boundaries of its capabilities. New alloys with even greater strength, corrosion resistance, and lightweight properties are constantly emerging, keeping steel relevant in the face of new technologies and challenges.

Premium-Quality, Competitively Priced Steels and Metals for Your Project

Planning on using steel in your next project? Look no further than MG Metals, one of the UK’s leading steel suppliers!

We offer a wide range of stainless and mild steel components, each cut to the exact length and thickness you need. Choose from bars, sheets, sections, angles, and much more – whatever you need, we can deliver.

We pride ourselves on offering some of the most competitive prices in the UK, alongside an ultra-fast turnaround and delivery service. After you tell us what you need, we’ll have your steel processed and sent directly to your site in no time, so you can get started on your project ASAP.

Ready to get started? Get a free quote online or call us on 01794 521070 today!