Why is Mild Steel so Versatile?

Mild Steel is everywhere; from the bodywork of a car, the structure of a skyscraper, to a computer, Mild Steel is used in all industries. Considering there are multiple other options, such as aluminum and stainless steel, why is it that Mild Steel is so ubiquitous in our lives?

In this article, we’ll explain what it is that makes Mild Steel so versatile, and why is it widely used.

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What Makes Mild Steel so Versatile?

Versatility is the ability of a material or product to adapt to many different situations and environments, Mild Steel can certainly be considered versatile as it is used in almost every industry in existence.

Strength vs Cost

When strength is needed, such as in construction, mild steel has a few advantages over cheaper materials such as lumber. One of which is its much higher tensile strength.

Steel needs 1/10th the cross-sectional area of wood, to bear the same stress, meaning less steel can be used to achieve the same task. Furthermore, Mild Steel can be treated to last many years, processes such as galvanizing are used to protect steel for over 50 years, with no reduction in performance.

Workability

When compared to other metals, Mild Steel is very workable. This means the processes and techniques used to make products are easier applied to Mild Steel than most other metals. We’ve listed these in much more detail below:

Forming

Mild Steel responds very well to forming and bending, this is thanks to its relatively high ductility. Ductility is the ability of a material to bend out of shape without breaking.

There are various ways Mild Steel can be formed, depending on the required application. For high-volume mass production, stamping and press forming are used. This is an extremely commonly used technique, to make everything from car body panels to machinery casements and brackets.

Another forming technique is folding or bending. This is often used in conjunction with laser cutting, where flat sheets are cut to a specific shape, and then straight line bends are placed using a press brake or folder. Mild Steel is great for bending, as it is ductile enough to be bent into complex shapes but has enough strength to be used for load-bearing brackets and other components.

Welding

Welding is vital in the engineering and construction industries, offering a fast way to permanently join metal. It can be applied to both thin sheet metal and 100mm thick Mild Steel plate.

Mild Steel has excellent weldability, enabling fast, high-strength bonds to be made. It is also easily automated in high-volume environments such as car production plants.

There are many different types of welding, and Mild Steel can be joined with almost all of them, from the traditional MIG, TIG and Stick/MMA methods, to more specialized techniques such as spot welding, submerged arc welding, laser welding and friction welding.

Cutting

Whilst very strong, Mild Steel is not excessively hard, which means it can be easily cut with many different mechanical and chemical methods.

Older techniques such as oxy-propane or oxy-acetylene cutting are still used today for fast and cheap cutting of thick materials. Mild Steel is the only metal that can be cut with these processes.

Other methods such as Plasma and Laser too work very well with Mild Steel, achieving high cut quality at fast speeds. Mechanical methods are also very effective with Mild Steel, such as traditional band saws, circular saws, guillotines and other shearing machines.

Machining

Mild Steel cuts easily and accurately with the most basic of machining tools. This is in contrast to other materials, such as certain grades of aluminum needing to be at the right temper level, and titanium needing specific cutting tools to achieve adequate surface finishes.

Even though mild steel is used commonly with traditional methods such as drilling, tapping and manual machining, it also responds well to the more precision techniques such as CNC machining and EDM machining, being able to produce highly accurate parts with little consideration for warping, shrinkage or deflection as with more exotic materials.

Cost and Availability

One of the biggest factors for many industries is that mild Steel is extremely cost-effective. As it is so widely used, there is a large supply network spanning the entire globe. This means there are rarely shortages of the raw materials needed to produce Mild Steel, and therefore experiences a very stable cost compared to other materials.

Mild Steel is approximately half the price of stainless steel, the mechanization of steel manufacture and production also brings the labor costs of making steel products down, especially in comparison to wooden products.

Wide Range of Shapes and Sizes

Partly because of its formability, the array of shapes and forms Mild Steel can be made into is expansive. From flat plates to round tubes and sections, there’s a shape for every application:

Angles and Flats

Angle Iron is one of the oldest shapes formed in Mild Steel, it’s a very easy shape to cut and drill, lending itself greatly to simple structures and frameworks.

Flat bars are available in a wide range of thicknesses and widths, suitable for all manner of fabrication applications such as spacers, bracketry, pads for tapped holes and more.

For more information, and to buy Angle Iron click here to see our range

Round, Rectangular and Square Hollow Section

Tubes and box sections are commonly used for all sorts of structural frameworks and assemblies; their high strength but low weight allow strong and light welded structures to be made.

For the Square Hollow Section, click here to see the selection.

Sheet, Floor plate and Mesh Flooring

Mild Steel Sheet is commonly used in conjunction with processes such as laser cutting and other sheet metal tools, floor plates are textured sheets used on steps, mezzanine floors and more.

Our selection of sheet materials can be viewed here

Mild Steel Grating Flooring is an alternative to floor or tread plate sheet steel, and offers superior laid bearing and traction properties, often used in more industrial applications.

Beams Columns and Channels

Beams are ubiquitous in steel construction and building frameworks, offering a strong and sturdy way to quickly assemble large frames. The ‘I’ shape gives tremendous lateral and rotational strength for load-bearing applications.

To view our range of beams, channels and column material, all available as cut-to-size pieces, click here

Square Bar, Round Bar, Hexagonal Bar and Rebar

Used in various machinery and precision applications, square and hexagon bars are commonly supplied with Mild Steel shapes. The latter is often used to create custom fixings or pipework fittings.

Thousands of yards of Rebar is used every day across the world in constructing concrete structures, we stock 0.375” up to 1” diameter. To buy Mild Steel rebar select your diameter and thickness

Check out our Mild Steel square bar, round bar, hexagonal bar and rebar, find your grade and have it cut to size to fits your needs.

Conclusion

In conclusion, mild steel’s exceptional versatility stems from its balanced combination of strength, affordability, and ease of fabrication. Its wide-ranging applications in construction, manufacturing, and beyond underscore its indispensable role in modern industry. As a reliable and adaptable material, mild steel continues to play a vital role in shaping our world.



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