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Types of Steel and Its Use in the Pipeline Industry

Types of Steel and Its Use in the Pipeline Industry

August 22,2022
carbon steel pipes
As manufacturing processes have evolved and become more complex, steel buyers' options have expanded to meet the many unique needs of a variety of industries.

But not all types of steel are created equal. Plumbing industry professionals can become better buyers by examining the types of steel available today and understanding why some steels make quality pipes and others don't.

Carbon steel

Steel is produced when carbon is added to iron, which itself is relatively weak. In modern industry, carbon is the most prominent additive in black materials, but various alloying elements are also common.

In fact, alloying elements are common even in plumbing products that are still considered carbon steel.

According to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), ferrous material is defined as having a core component of not more than 1.65% manganese, 0.60% silicon, and 0.60% copper, and no minimum content for other materials is specified. Specified as carbon steel. 

Alloy element

Carbon steel pipes are widely used in many industries because of their strength and ease of processing. Because it contains fewer alloying elements and low concentration, carbon steel pipe is relatively inexpensive.

However, it is not suitable for extreme temperature or high-pressure service because the lack of alloying elements makes it less resistant to attendant stresses.

Alloy steel

Alloy steel sounds like steel that contains a specific amount of alloying elements. Generally, alloying elements make steel stronger and more resistant to shock or stress. While the most common alloying elements include nickel, chromium, molybdenum, manganese, silicon, and copper, many other alloying elements are also used in the production of steel.

Countless combinations of alloys and concentrations are used in industry, each designed to achieve specific qualities.

High-alloy steels are favored in the plumbing industry and can be used in extreme conditions, be it hot or cold, or subjected to rough service. This is because a combination of chemistry and proper heat treatment can result in a strong and flexible pipe that can withstand blows. Alloy pipes are often favored by the oil and gas and power generation industries due to their toughness.

Alloying elements also give steel pipes higher corrosion resistance. This also makes it the first choice for chemical companies.

Stainless steel

The word is a bit of a misnomer. No single combination of iron and alloying elements can make stainless steel what it is. Conversely, stainless steel means that products made from it will not rust.

Alloys in stainless steel can include chromium, manganese, silicon, nickel, and molybdenum. Together, these alloys interact with water and oxygen in the air to quickly form a thin, strong film on the steel, preventing further corrosion.

Naturally, stainless steel pipes are used in any industry where corrosion protection is required. While stainless steel pipe is essentially alloy pipe by another name, it is less suitable for extreme service unless it is properly heat treated for strength and impact resistance.

Due to its aesthetic appeal, stainless steel is often chosen if the pipe must be visible in a public or professional setting.

Tool steel

Tool steel is the conversion of other types of steel into products or equipment used in industry. They must be very strong, tough, ductile, and corrosion resistant. They must also be able to hold the cutting edge and retain their shape at high temperatures. To achieve these qualities, these steels contain very high concentrations of alloying elements and are precisely heat treated.

Tool steels, sometimes called superalloys, are less suitable for plumbing products. On the one hand, adding more alloys makes tool steel more expensive to produce. On the other hand, the content of alloying elements in tool steels makes them more difficult to form into pipe products. Finally, pipes do not need cutting edges.

It is cheaper and easier to use relatively soft low alloy steel to form the pipe and then heat treat it to a specified hardness.

In conclusion

The complex chemistry and metallurgy present in steel production can be difficult to master, but it has helped the industry improve and improve its critical processes.

Become a more professional buyer by learning more about the types of steel suitable for specific plumbing applications. If you want to buy steel pipes, please contact us.

BAOLAI is a professional custom steel pipe manufacturer, our products mainly include seamless carbon steel pipe, welded carbon steel pipe, alloy steel pipe, and so on. The main purpose of pipelines is to transport liquids or gases–including oil, gas, and water–underground. We offer full-size steel pipes from 1/8" to 50" outside diameter and wall thicknesses from sch10 to schxxs. Polaris Fortune has API 5L, API 5CT, CE, UL, FM, ISO and other certificates to ensure the quality of steel pipes.
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