Iron is the basic component of steel. When carbon, a nonmetal, is added to iron in amounts up to 2.1%, the result is an alloy known as steel.
Each element that is added to the basic steel composition has some effect on the properties of the steel and how that steel reacts to fabrication processes. These additions and variations in steel compositions are responsible for a great variety of steel grades and steel properties. For example, proper steel composition provides enhanced strength and /or toughness and an opportunity to use cost-effective and straightforward heat-treatment methods.
Besides alloying elements, steel composition almost always includes small amounts of impurities which are present in steelmaking raw materials such as scrap or hot metal. Generally, the impurity content is kept so low that its presence is not detrimental to the properties of the steel.
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