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Steel

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Victoria Liss
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« on: November 18, 2010, 01:22:47 pm »

Other materials are often added to the iron/carbon mixture to produce steel with desired properties. Nickel and manganese in steel add to its tensile strength and make austenite more chemically stable, chromium increases hardness and melting temperature, and vanadium also increases hardness while reducing the effects of metal fatigue. To prevent corrosion, at least 11% chromium is added to steel so that a hard oxide forms on the metal surface; this is known as stainless steel. Tungsten interferes with the formation of cementite, allowing martensite to form with slower quench rates, resulting in high speed steel. On the other hand, sulfur, nitrogen, and phosphorus make steel more brittle, so these commonly found elements must be removed from the ore during processing.[5]

The density of steel varies based on the alloying constituents, but usually ranges between 7.75 and 8.05 g/cm3 (0.280–0.291 lb/in3).[6]

Even in the narrow range of concentrations which make up steel, mixtures of carbon and iron can form a number of different structures, with very different properties. Understanding such properties is essential to making quality steel. At room temperature, the most stable form of iron is the body-centered cubic (BCC) structure α-ferrite. It is a fairly soft metallic material that can dissolve only a small concentration of carbon, no more than 0.021 wt% at 723 °C (1,333 °F), and only 0.005% at 0 °C (32 °F). If the steel contains more than 0.021% carbon then it transforms into a face-centered cubic (FCC) structure, called austenite or γ-iron. It is also soft and metallic but can dissolve considerably more carbon, as much as 2.1%[7] carbon at 1,148 °C (2,098 °F), which reflects the upper carbon content of steel.[8
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