Soft cold-pressed steel – all you need to know

Due to its excellent qualities, soft cold-pressed steel is a popular material in various industries.

Experts point out numerous advantages, such as adequate material behavior during welding, so that alone ensures its broad use.

 

What is soft cold-pressed steel?

Soft cold-pressed steel is classified among low-carbon content steels.

Carbon steels are metals that contain a small percentage of carbon (at most 2.1%) that enhances the quality of pure steel. Carbon content varies depending on the purpose of the steel. Steels with low carbon percentages contain carbon in the percentage range from 0.05 to 0.25 percent.

There are various types of soft cold-pressed steel, but they all contain carbon level within the range mentioned. Other elements are added for enhancing useful characteristics, such as corrosion resistance, damage resistance, etc.

 

How is low-carbon content steel produced?

Carbon levels are proportionally increased with heat processing of steel. As the carbon content increases, the steel develops hardness, but loses elasticity. This means that the metal becomes fragile and can break in the process of bending under excess force.

Manufacturing processes for soft cold-pressed steel are similar to those of other carbon steels. Steels with higher percentages of carbon just contain more carbon, which results in different qualities, such as high strength and firmness, as compared to soft steels.

These processes have been developed through time and are now much more profitable than in the past. In modern industry, soft steel manufacturing from pure steel, consists of three phases.

 

Primary steel production

In this phase of the steel production process, iron ore is mixed with carbon and lime and heated in a blast-furnace of capacity 100 to 400 tons. Lime creates a protective layer at the top of this hot melded metal.

Modern production of steel is based on the original Bessmer process for steel production.

In a BOS process, oxygen is blown through melded iron, while steel waste is added to the converter. Thus the content of carbon is decreased to a maximum of 1.5%. In developed countries, an electric-arch furnace is used to charge steel waste through electric arches of extremely high power. This results in an impressive steel quality.

 

Secondary steel production

The second step in the process of soft steel production includes further decrease of carbon content and adding alloy elements.

Manipulating furnace conditions (temperature, cooling speed, etc.) also helps this process. In the end, the type of the steel you want to produce will determine the steel production process.

After steel has a certain carbon content and other elements that enhance its effectiveness, melded steel is poured into molds. This is the molding process. This is where the steel is shaped and left to harden. After that, it is cut into final shapes, such as, e.g., sheets.

The product then needs to get a good-quality surface without molding defects. In the process of primary shaping, hot-pressing is often used to that end. Hot-pressed steel products are usually categorized as flat products, made-to-order products, long products and seamless pipes.

 

Secondary shaping

Although we have a finished product at the end of the above-mentioned process, it is usually shaped once again in order to improve its mechanical qualities in line with usage requirements. Secondary shaping gives the product its final shape and characteristics. Shaping methods include: cold-press shaping, machine treatment, coating, quenching, surface finishing.

 

Chemical characteristics of soft steel

As mentioned above, soft steel has a lower content of carbon than mid- and high-carbon steel. The percentage of carbon in soft steel is up to 0.25%, but some experts classify steel as low-carbon up to 0.45% of content.

Low content of carbon makes this steel very pliable. It can be cut, mechanically processed, shaped into complex shapes without adding proportional strain to the processed piece. It also makes the welding process easier.

Many alloy elements enhance chemical characteristics. These elements will positively impact physical/chemical characteristics and render the final product appropriate for its use. Elements that can be added include chromium (Cr), Cobalt (Co), Phosphorus (P), Sulfur (S), Manganese (Mn), among others.

For instance, chromium adds the characteristic of corrosion resistance and enhances the durability of soft steel. In its pure form, soft steel will easily corrode due to oxidation. Unlike ferro-oxide, metal chromium, upon exposure to the atmosphere, creates a thick layer of chromium oxide which sticks and finally protects the metal from further attacks of corrosion.

Copper, in limited quantities, has the same effect as chromium-oxide. Metal steel pipes can be coated with copper for better protection from atmospheric influences. Other elements can be added as well, in order to enhance resistance to wear, final durability and heat resistance.

 

Physical characteristics of soft steel

Its impressive characteristics are responsible for its growing usage in in various industries. Some physical characteristics of soft steel are as follow: high pull durability, high impact durability, good elasticity and applicability for welding, good ductileness, possibility of cold shaping.

 

Usage

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that you can see something made of soft cold-pressed steel, literally every time you look through a window. It is the most commonly purchased type of metal. From buildings, massive sea-faring vessels, in the process of producing everything that surrounds us, soft cold-pressed steel is involved.

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