Have you ever noticed how solid ice turns into liquid water when heated? Watching the ice melt and transform into a completely different state is fascinating. This process is the ice reaching its melting point. The same process happens with other solids too. Unlike ice, which changes directly from solid to gas (sublimation), metals reach their melting point when subjected to extremely high temperatures.
But what does all of this have to do with steel? As a manufacturer, knowing all about melting point is a good place to start the steel manufacturing process. If you’re curious about this fascinating process, keep reading to learn more!
Understanding the Melting Point of Stainless Steel
Steel is an iron alloy used in various applications due to its durability, strength, and versatility. Did you know that you can alter the melting point of steel by adding other components to the steel?
The melting point depression process is such that the fewer extra components added to steel, the higher its melting point, and vice-versa. With steel coming in different forms, each has its unique properties – including the melting point.
Many of the attributes of steel, including its strength and corrosion resistance, have been related to its melting point. Therefore it is essential to have good knowledge of it as it affects the processing and correct usage of the alloy.
Overview of Steel
In its most natural form, steel comes with deposits of carbon and iron. This composition provides additional durability for the material, while also making it ideal for application in both residential and commercial settings.
And, as you probably already know, steel is available in different variants. Carbon steel is perfect for automotive parts and high-tension wires, while you can use alloy-infused steel to design vehicle components and products that serve as conduits for water to flow. Tool steels are mostly used to make tools. Tools like hammers are made from this type of steel because of their durability and heat resistance.
Steel has many properties and contents that come into play during the melting process. Each steel has different elements as its champion. Hence, the melting point of each steel differs. The capillary method is the most common method used to find the melting points of steels. Researchers put a piece of material in a small capillary tube. They then wait till it gradually heats and melts.
A lot of researchers and industry experts consider this method more reliable and accurate. However, for the method to work, it is also important to understand the melting point of steel. This way, manufacturers know the right combinations to make their preferred steel, and anyone looking to use the material is also able to achieve optimal quality.
Melting points and Impurities
The temperature at which a substance turns liquid is known as its melting point. It is easier to find out the impurities of a material by the melting point. Zoning in on these impurities is hard when the steel is still solid. So, steel must be melted to determine what kinds of organic and inorganic crystalline compounds it has and how pure or dirty it is.
When considering the melting point of steel, you need to look into the individuality of each steel variant. The fact that there are different types of the material – each with its own material composition – means that their melting points can’t be the same.
Stainless steel typically has a melting point of about 1370 °C. Nonetheless, variances could exist based on the kind and content. These steels’ melting points are listed below:
Factors that affect the melting point of steel
It will be ridiculous to say that the melting point happens without anything propelling it. Or worse still, there are no factors affecting it. Here are some:
- Impurities: Any compounds other than iron and carbon in steel are considered impurities. The number of impurities present in the steel will determine how fast the melting point of the steel will be. If there are more impurities, the steel will melt slower. The melting point increases with decreasing impurities and decreases with increasing contaminants.
- Pressure: An increase in the pressure of the heat will lead to an increase in the melting point.
- The force of attraction: Strong or weak, the force of attraction between the molecules or elements in the steel will determine the melting point.
Why should you know the melting point of steel?
Did you know that the melting point of steel can be determined without necessarily causing any changes to the steel’s physical properties?
Generally, you track this metric using a thermometer. The melting point, in and of itself, does not need to influence or alter the material’s other physical qualities.
Steel is stronger and lasts longer when its melting point is greater. For instance, a higher melting point of steel may necessitate processing at greater temperatures and for longer periods of time. The melting point during and after production can affect steel’s hardness, ductility, and toughness.
The primary factor determining the melting point of steel is the degree to which intermolecular forces of attraction are strong. In its most basic form, the melting point is directly proportional to the attractive forces between the molecules.
The melting point of steel helps steel’s resilience to high temperatures. This is crucial in applications where steel is exposed to great heat, such as in industrial furnaces and engines.
Melting Point of Steel vs Other Materials
Different materials have different melting points, and this can greatly affect their properties and uses.
- Steel vs Galvanized Steel
Two materials that are frequently used in the construction, automotive, and other industries are steel and galvanized steel. Depending on the type and composition of steel, the melting temperature typically falls between 2500 and 2770 degrees Fahrenheit at 1370 to 1520 degrees Celsius.
But the main component of the galvanized coating on galvanized steel, zinc, has a much lower melting point, ranging from 419 to 649 degrees Celsius (786 to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit). This indicates that because of the zinc coating, the melting point of galvanized steel is lower than that of steel. Galvanized steel may melt before the steel itself when subjected to high heat, which could compromise the material’s overall structural soundness and performance.
- Steel vs Glass
Steel and glass are two very different materials with distinct properties and applications. Steel is a metallic material, while glass is an amorphous solid made from silica, soda, and lime.
In contrast, the melting point of glass is typically lower than that of steel and varies depending on the type of glass. The most popular glass used in windows, bottles, and other applications is soda-lime glass, which has a melting point of roughly 600 to 800 degrees Celsius (1112 to 1472 degrees Fahrenheit). Borosilicate glass, which is known for its high resistance to thermal expansion, has a higher melting point of around 800 to 850 degrees Celsius (1472 to 1562 degrees Fahrenheit). However, both types of glass have melting points lower than that of steel, making them more susceptible to melting or deforming when exposed to high temperatures.
- Steel vs Iron
it’s easy to conflate these two materials – after all, you need to manipulate iron itself to create steel. Nevertheless, they differ on many fronts – with the melting point being one of them.
while iron melts between about 1538 °C (2800 degrees Fahrenheit). As was previously mentioned, steel is an alloy of iron and carbon, and depending on the type and composition, its melting point typically ranges from 1370 to 1520 degrees Celsius (2500 to 2770 degrees Fahrenheit).
Compared to pure iron, the melting point of steel is lowered by the alloying components carbon and other. This is because the carbon atoms disrupt the orderly arrangement of iron atoms in the crystal lattice, making it easier for the material to transition from a solid to a liquid state. This lower melting point of steel compared to iron allows for easier processing and shaping of steel during manufacturing.
- Steel vs Jet Fuel
Steel is an iron and carbon alloy, and its melting point varies depending on the type of steel. On the other hand, jet fuel, which is a type of hydrocarbon-based fuel used in aircraft, has a relatively low melting point. Jet fuel typically has a melting point between -40°C (-40°F) and -10°C (14°F). This significant difference in melting points makes steel a much more heat-resistant material compared to jet fuel, as it can withstand much higher temperatures without melting.
- Stainless Steel vs Steel
stainless steel is a steel variant that has a melting point between 1370°C (2500°F) and 1520°C (2768°F). This range is identical to that of traditional steel, showing that both materials are indeed quite similar.
Chromium does not significantly change the melting point of stainless steel, even though its presence provides additional density to the material and makes it more suitable for different applications.
- Steel vs Titanium
Renowned especially for its durability and strength, titanium has a melting point that is much higher than steel’s, ranging from 1660°C (3020°F) to 1680°C (3056°F). As a result, titanium is more heat-resistant than steel.
This combination of physical properties means that the material is especially popular in military and aerospace applications.
- Steel vs Tinplated Steel
Tinplated steel, also known as tinplate, is a type of steel coated with a layer of tin to provide corrosion resistance and improve the appearance of the material. The melting point of tinplated steel is similar to that of regular steel. The tin coating on tinplated steel has a much lower melting point of around 232°C (450°F). This means that while the steel core remains solid at high temperatures, the tin coating may melt or deform, which can affect the overall performance of tinplated steel in certain applications.
- Steel vs Chromium Steel
As you can probably guess from its name, chromium steel comes with a considerable content of chromium – which strengthens it.
The material melts between 1370°C (2500°F) and 1520°C (2768°F), and while the addition of chromium does not significantly affect the melting point of steel, it’s easy to see why it would be added into the mix.
- Steel vs Copper
Steel and copper are two different types of metals with distinct melting points. Copper, on the other hand, is pure metal. Depending on the type and composition of the steel, the melting point of steel typically ranges from 2500 to 2770 degrees Fahrenheit to 1370 to 1520 degrees Celsius. The melting point of copper, in contrast, is 1083 degrees Celsius (1981 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Steel vs Brass
to be fair, brass isn’t quite as popular as several other steel variants. Made of materials like zinc and copper, it is commonly used in applications where corrosion resistance, low friction, and good electrical conductivity are required. The melting point of brass varies depending on the composition, but it generally ranges from 900 to 940 degrees Celsius (1652 to 1724 degrees Fahrenheit).
As you would expect, steel holds its own much better when exposed to higher temperatures than brass.
- Steel vs Bronze
Bronze is a popular material that comes with a primary copper content – while materials like tin and zinc can be used to allow it.
Bronze’s melting point varies depending on composition, but it typically falls between 850 and 1000 degrees Celsius (1562 to 1832 degrees Fahrenheit). As with copper and brass, steel also shows greater resistance to heat than bronze – with its melting point ranging from 1370 to 1520 degrees Celsius (2500 to 2770 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Steel vs Aluminum
Aluminum is a lightweight metal that is known for its excellent corrosion resistance and high thermal conductivity. It changes its form when it is exposed to heat sources between 660°C and 660.5°C(1220 to 1221 degrees Fahrenheit) – much lower than steel.
- Steel vs Plastic
Plastic is a synthetic material that has a wide range of applications due to its versatility, affordability, and ease of processing. Unlike steel, aluminum, and carbon steel pipe, plastic is not metal, and therefore, does not have a melting point. Instead, plastics undergo a process called “melting” or “softening” when they are heated, which causes them to become malleable and moldable. The temperature at which plastic softens and can be shaped depends on the type of plastic, and it can vary widely, ranging from as low as 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit) to as high as several hundred degrees Celsius (over 500 degrees Fahrenheit).
Various Types of Steel and their Melting Points
Steel is a versatile and widely used material known for its durability, strength, and resistance to corrosion. Steel is a useful and often used substance renowned for its toughness, resilience, and corrosion resistance. However, when it comes to melting points, not all steels are created equal.
- 1018 steel
Low-carbon steel 1018 is well known for its superior machinability and weldability. Because it has 0.18% carbon, it is relatively soft and simple to deal with. If you’d try to melt 1018 steel, you’d need to expose it to a heat source that’s capable of generating between 2700°F and 2800°F (1480°C to 1540°C) of heat.
Since it has a lower melting point than other kinds of steel, it can be used for a variety of tasks that call for less heat resistance, like general machining, welding, and fabrication.
- Melting Point of 303 Stainless Steel
A free-machining stainless steel with additional sulfur that increases machinability is 303 stainless steel. It is frequently employed in processes that call for excellent machinabilities and exceptional corrosion resistance, such as the production of screws, bolts, and gears. 303 stainless steel usually melts anywhere between 1399°C and 1427°C (2550°F and 2600°F). This range is much higher than many of its counterparts, and that is mostly because this steel variant comes with a higher sulfur content than most others.
Due to its lower melting point than other stainless steels, it is easier to deal with during high-heat production operations but also has marginally poorer heat resistance.
- Melting Point of 316 Steel
316 stainless steel is a common stainless steel alloy containing molybdenum, which improves corrosion and pitting resistance. It is extensively used in maritime and other harsh environments due to its high corrosion resistance. Generally, 316 stainless steel melts at a temperature spectrum that runs from 1375°C to 1400°C (2500°F to 2550°F).
The addition of molybdenum to 316 stainless steel, on the other hand, improves its overall corrosion resistance and makes it more appropriate for use in hostile situations.
- Melting Point of 4140 Steel
4140 steel is a high-strength, low-alloy steel that is commonly used in applications where high tensile strength and toughness are required, such as in the manufacturing of gears, shafts, and axles. It contains chromium and molybdenum as alloying elements, which contribute to its high tensile strength and excellent hardenability. The melting point of 4140 steel typically ranges from 1425°C to 1480°C (2600°F to 2700°F), which is similar to the melting points of 1018 steel and 303 stainless steel.
- Melting Point of Low & High Carbon Steel
As its name suggests, high-carbon steel comes with a considerable amount of carbon in it. In most cases, these steel variants come with anywhere between 0.5% and 1% of CO2 content – and, it could be even more in some cases.
It is well-known for its hardness and wear resistance, but it is also more brittle than other varieties of steel. While there is some flexibility based on composition and material welding, you can find this steel variant coming in with a melting point between 1370°C to 1521°C (2500°F to 2770°F).
The high carbon content in this type of steel can result in a relatively high melting point, making it suitable for applications that require high heat resistance, such as cutting tools, springs, and high-strength wires.
Low-carbon steel is known for its ductility, weldability, and affordability, making it widely used in various applications such as construction, automotive, and general fabrication. The melting point of low-carbon steel typically ranges from 1460°C to 1490°C (2660°F to 2710°F), which is slightly higher than high-carbon steel. The lower carbon content in this type of steel results in a slightly lower melting point, making it easier to work with during fabrication processes that involve high heat.
- 17-4ph Stainless Steel
17-4ph stainless steel is a precipitation-hardening stainless steel alloyed with chromium, nickel, and copper. The melting point of 17-4ph stainless steel typically ranges from 1390°C to 1440°C (2530°F to 2620°F), which is similar to the melting point of low carbon steel. The precipitation-hardening process involves heat treatment, which can affect the melting point of this type of stainless steel.
- Melting Point of Cast Iron and Mild Steel
Cast iron and mild steel are two distinct types of steel that are commonly used in different applications. It is known for its excellent castability, machinability, and wear resistance, but it is also brittle and prone to cracking.
The melting point of cast iron typically ranges from 1150°C to 1300°C (2100°F to 2370°F), depending on the specific alloy composition.
Application of the Melting Point of Steel
The versatility of steel is second to none. The material easily functions in different capacities across different industries, but it is also important for these industries to understand how steel’s melting point can affect their use of the material.
Manufacturing and Construction
Steels must have a high melting point to manufacture heavy machinery, equipment, and structures. If the steel has a higher melting point, it will not require so much air for the engine parts to get heated up. Steel’s properties make it the most suitable choice for machinery because it resists heat and corrosion.
Aerospace and Automotive Industries
The automotive and aerospace industries require strong materials to produce their innovations. Steel alloys suit perfectly for use in this industry. Steels are extremely strong, tough, and resistant to high temperatures. They even resist temperatures as high as 8700C.
Energy and Power Generation
Steel is used extensively in the energy and power generation sectors to convert solar energy to electricity or hot water. The melting point also aids in the fabrication of wave energy devices.
Other uses of steel include the production of transformers, electric motors, and steel-reinforced cables, amongst others. The melting point will ensure the durability and effectiveness of these innovations.
As important as the melting point of steel is, it is one of those aspects people tend to overlook.
Need more information about steels and their melting points? Then contact us today!
What is the Difference between Melting and Smelting?
Smelting is the process of removing metal from its ore using heat and chemical reactions, whereas melting is the process of converting a solid material into a liquid form by heating it to its melting point. While smelting is used especially to extract metal from ores, melting is utilized for materials that have a solid state at ambient temperature.
What is the freezing point of steel?
The temperature at which steel transitions from a liquid to a solid is known as its freezing point. This temperature is also known as its melting point.
According to its composition and alloying components, steel has a freezing point that typically falls between 1370 and 1521 degrees Celsius (2500 and 2770 degrees Fahrenheit) for high carbon steel, 1460 and 1490 degrees (2660 and 2710 degrees Fahrenheit) for low carbon and mild steel, and 1390 to 1440 degrees (2530 and 2620 degrees Fahrenheit) for 17-4ph stainless steel.
What is the difference between the melting point temperature in Fahrenheit and Celsius?
Whether expressed in degrees Fahrenheit or degrees Celsius, the melting point of steel or any other substance is the same. The numerical numbers for the melting point of steel will vary when expressed in these two distinct scales since Fahrenheit and Celsius are two separate thermometers.
The melting point of steel is typically given in degrees Celsius (°C) in technical and scientific applications. For instance, high-carbon steel typically has a melting point between 1370°C and 1521°C.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that both Fahrenheit and Celsius are relative scales with unique zero points and steps. As a result, when expressed in Fahrenheit or Celsius, the numerical figures for the melting point of steel or any other material will vary. Regardless of the scale employed, the temperature difference or distance between melting points will stay the same.