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Steel is an alloy of the elements iron and carbon. The majority of steels contain between 0% and 1% carbon, with the exception of some tool steels that contain greater amounts. There are typically three categories of steels: low carbon, medium carbon, and high carbon steels. The amount of carbon present in the steel affects the material’s toughness and hardenability.
Want a simple explanation of how carbon influences the mechanical properties of different steels? Ryan Van Dyke, one of our metallurgists, explains the relationship in this installment of the Paulo Metallurgy Minute.