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Steel and Everyday Life

Steel is basically an alloy of iron, carbon and other metals. Depending on the process followed and the presence of different elements in the alloy, steel is obtained with a range of qualities, such as greater strength, better malleability or durability, etc. It all depends on the intended use. So, for example, a motor vehicle may be built out of several kinds of steel. The door panels, flanges and tailgate use one type of steel; the roof and lower chassis use another much more elastic steel; while for the reinforcements to the suspension a steel is used that includes alloy elements.

Behind every piece of steel is a highly-specialized technology. Shipping containers are made with low-alloy steels, making them lightweight yet able to carry heavy loads. This kind of steel is also used in construction beams, since they are light, strong and optimize space in buildings.

Tools such as drill bits, reamers, countersinks and machine taps are made from alloy steels and may contain elements such as vanadium, molybdenum and a greater proportion of manganese, silicon or copper than is found in most steels, providing it with greater strength.

To make stainless steel that protects against rust and the natural corrosion of iron, chrome or nickel is added in a proportion greater than 10%. This allows the steel to be used in sophisticated machinery such as steam turbines, oil refinery tanks or chemical plants.

Our modern life would be impossible without the existence of steel: housing, transport of goods, space travel, oil extraction and countless other activities require the strength and durability of this material.

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 December 2011 12:10