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What is Abrasion Resistant Steel?

Abrasion Resistant Steel

Abrasion resistant steel is a high carbon steel with increased hardness and toughness. When used for specialized purposes the steel can dramatically increase the lifetime in high wear applications.

In general, the more abrasion resistant the steel, the harder it is to form or weld, and due to the increased manufacturing cost, it is also more expensive. For these reasons, the requirement for abrasion resistance needs to be weighed against the extra cost or the reduced flexibility.

Abrasion Resistant Steel Uses

Abrasion resistant steel is best suited for applications with high wear, and as such are commonly found where there is constant motion or a flow of material. Industries that benefit most from the use of abrasion resistant steel are those which require large scale materials handling such as the mining and construction industries.

Applications include:

  • Wear parts on mining/digging equipment including buckets for diggers & excavators, liners for dump trucks and dozer attachments.
  • Conveyor belts used to transport material.
  • Liners for bins, chutes and hoppers that see material flow, such as in the mining or cement industry.

Abrasion resistant steels will typically be used as a liner to protect more permanent structures from wearing away. These liners are generally designed to be replaced at regular intervals.

While a high carbon content makes steel products both harder and tougher, they are also more brittle and are not suitable for all applications. Abrasion resistant steels should not be used as structural steel, for example, as the brittle nature may lead to premature failure.

How is Abrasion Resistant Steel Made?

To refine iron ore into steel, it is fed into a blast furnace which separates the impurities such as oxygen. During this process, extra materials can be added to produce a target steel quality, and if extra carbon is added at this stage the steel becomes more abrasion resistant. Different amounts of carbon will give varying grades of abrasion resistance, and by adding other alloys, (such as chromium) the typically brittle nature of abrasion resistant steel can be reduced. Once the molten metal is combined with the additives, the now abrasion resistant steel is shaped and cut.

By adding carbon to the metal, the molecular structure is altered in a way that reduces the amount of slippage or dislocation within the steel. This means that the steel will lose less mass through wear, and this is where the resistance to abrasion is derived from.

A heating and quenching stage is also usually required to achieve the final product hardness. This involves heating the steel up and then rapidly cooling it again to ensure the structure of the steel is the most conducive to abrasion resistance. This is, in part why abrasion steels are hard to re-work once manufactured, as welding or cutting can increase the temperature enough to undo the heat and quench cycle and reduce the overall abrasion resistance.

Metal Supermarkets

Metal Supermarkets is the world’s largest small-quantity metal supplier with over 125 brick-and-mortar stores across the US, Canada, and United Kingdom. We are metal experts and have been providing quality customer service and products since 1985.

At Metal Supermarkets, we supply a wide range of metals for a variety of applications. Our stock includes: mild steel, stainless steel, aluminum, tool steel, alloy steel, brass, bronze and copper.

We stock a wide range of shapes including: bars, tubes, sheets, plates and more. And we can cut metal to your exact specifications.

Visit one of our 125+ locations across North America today.

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