5 Interesting Facts About Steel You Should Know

September 2, 2016 | Steel Wire Products, Stainless Steel Baskets

Steel is an excellent material that is strong, long-lasting, and easily recycled.A little knowledge can go a long way. Marlin’s success as a custom wire forming company is built on the skills and know-how of a talented, dedicated team of mechanical engineers who work hard to build their knowledge.

Over the years, Marlin’s team have learned many things, and accomplished many feats of engineering by taking those lessons and applying them on the shop floor.

To help you build a little knowledge, here are a few steel facts from Marlin Steel:

1: There are More Than 3,500 Different Grades of Steel

Most people not in the manufacturing industry might be surprised to hear this, but there are thousands of different kinds of steel alloys and grades out there. While the exact count is uncertain, organizations such as the World Steel Association state that “there are more than 3,500 different grades of steel” and that “approximately 75% of modern steels have been developed in the past 20 years.”

As materials research and science improve it’s likely that there will be many more steel alloys hitting the market in the future which will be lighter and stronger than ever before.

2: Steel is the World’s Most Recycled Material

Thanks to the ferromagnetic properties of many steel alloys, steel is exceptionally easy to remove from the solid waste stream and divert into recycling plants.

This contributes to the rather impressive recycling rate for steel scrap in the U.S. and abroad. According to statistics cited by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) in a 2015 report, “In the United States alone, 73 million metric tons of ferrous scrap was processed by the scrap recycling industry last year, nearly 55 percent of the volume of all domestically-produced material.”

Virtually no matter how many times steel is reprocessed, it will retain its properties, making it an eminently sustainable material.

3: Almost Half of America’s Ferrous Scrap Supply Comes from Industrial and Manufacturing Sources

Steel scrap is heavily recycled in the U.S. and other countries, contributing to sustainability initiatives across the globe.Between the metal shavings left behind after key parts shaping and finishing processes, and steel parts that are rendered unusable by manufacturing accidents, there’s a lot of “prompt scrap” generated by the industrial and manufacturing industries.

How much scrap is prompt scrap?

According to the previously-cited ISRI report, prompt scrap “accounts for approximately half of the ferrous scrap supply.” This would mean that over 35 million tons of recycled scrap comes straight from the construction and manufacturing industries each year—and that’s just in the USA!

4: Stainless Steel Wires CAN Rust

One of the biggest selling points of stainless steel is its ability to resist corrosion. This ability to resist corrosion helps prolong the useful life of the steel and preserve its strength—that’s why Marlin Steel specializes in using stainless steel for wire forming applications.

However, under some conditions, stainless steel CAN rust. This can happen in a number of ways, such as:

  • Failure to clean and mill welding machine electrodes and other equipment when moving from welding plain steel to stainless steel.
  • Using the same metal brushes for finishing both plain and stainless steel alloys.
  • Introduction of chemicals that strip away the oxide layer and prevent it from reforming.

The first two causes of rust in the above list introduce minute flecks of plain steel into the surface of the stainless alloy, compromising the protective oxide layer that normally keeps stainless alloys from rusting.

Proper care in initial manufacture, use, and maintenance are key for maximizing the useful life of stainless steel products and avoiding rust.

5: Stainless Steel Wire Forms Can Have a Lower Total Cost of Ownership Than Plastic Forms

Up front, the cost of a stainless steel wire form will generally be higher than a polymer-based equivalent.

The thing is, while the initial cost may be higher, the total cost of ownership over time is frequently much lower when using steel wire forms over plastic bins and trays.

Virtually every form of steel alloy has a much higher tensile strength, resistance to temperature extremes, and ability to withstand sharp, sudden force without breaking than what most polymers are capable of.

This allows steel wire forms to survive processes that would destroy a plastic equivalent. Steel wire forms could last for over a decade in use conditions that would cause a plastic basket to break after just a few months of use.

Over time, the cost of replacing the plastic baskets over and over would easily outstrip the cost of buying a steel wire form just once.

These are just a few of the remarkable facts about steel and steel wire forming. Learn more about stainless steel wire forming by checking out some additional resources today!

Stainless Steel Baskets