In the War of Pipes, Who Wins? Carbon Steel or Stainless Steel

Carbon steel and stainless steel are two of the most popular materials used for pipe fabrication. These materials are used across several industries and offer reliability at all times. In this blog, we attempt to distinguish between the two in practical terms to decide (finally), which material wins, and which loses.

The Argument for Stainless Steel

Stainless steel, the ever-popular commercial and industrial material has been used to produce all types of components. Chromium is added to steel to make the resultant alloy harder (tougher) and corrosion resistant. Stainless steel is tough and does not rust. This makes its practical use far-reaching.

The Argument for Carbon Steel

Carbon steel pipes are used in almost all industries. From automotive and marine industries to military and aerospace, carbon steel pipes are preferred for their strength, among other properties. Several grades of carbon steel are available as well. By adjusting the proportion of the materials added to steel, different grades of carbon steel are produced. Some of the materials added include carbon, chromium, tungsten, manganese, etc. These carbon steel grades offer varied benefits depending on which materials are added to the base material, steel. Some of these benefits include increased hardness, improved ductility, increased tensile strength, improved thermal and electrical properties, ability to withstand heat treatment, increased corrosion resistance, etc.

There is no dearth of information on the topic of carbon steel. Before making a choice about the type of carbon steel pipe to be manufactured, it is extremely important to understand everything there is to know about carbon steel pipes.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Pipe Material

Engineers need to consider several factors when choosing a particular material for pipe fabrication. Some of these are listed below:

  1. Ease of Workability

When fabricating stainless or carbon steel pipes, the material will be put through certain processes. On fabrication, the pipes are further worked on when being integrated into an application. These processes include welding, machining, hardening, etc. It is important that the material does not break or get damaged in any way during these processes.

  1. Material Reactivity

Certain materials react with one another and the result might have adverse effects. In an application, one must make a note of all the fluids, solids, and gases that will interact with the stainless steel or carbon steel pipe. It is important to ensure that there is no reaction between the pipes and these materials, as it could hinder the functioning of the application.

  1. Specifications

The specifications of the stainless steel or carbon steel pipe need to be taken into consideration to ensure compatibility with the processes being performed on the material. Will the material maintain its characteristics when it is welded, machined, milled, or heat-treated? These are some important questions to consider when choosing between these two materials. Since the tensile strength and weight of stainless and carbon steel is almost similar, characteristics like ductility should be taken into consideration.

Both stainless steel and carbon steel offer their advantages and fall short on some counts too. It is important to look at the material and all its possible benefits and shortcomings, as a whole and ensure that the product characteristics match your application.