Carbon steel is a type of steel that includes all steels made with less than two percent carbon. They are relatively inexpensive and well-suited to applications where they will contact the ground because they resist rust.

So the question begs, what makes carbon steel so strong and durable?

What Is Carbon Steel?

Carbon steel is one of the most widely used engineering materials globally. It has excellent strength, ductility, and toughness properties but is also very easy to machine. 

Carbon steels are widely used in rail and railway tracks, mining and construction machinery, agricultural machinery, heavy machinery, and many other applications.

Carbon steel is typically heat-treated after it has been forged. The heating process changes the steel structure to make it stronger and resistant to cracking and breakage.

Typical carbon steel shows the following properties:

  • Spheroidize structure
  • Good toughness
  • Excellent stress-crack resistance
  • High strength
  • Excellent ductility
  • Excellent formability
  • Excellent weldability

What Is Carbon Steel Used For?

Carbon steel is a low-cost, highly versatile material. In general, these steels are easy to form and fabricate. 

The versatility of carbon steel makes it a popular choice for modern buildings. It’s used to construct the most significant and most complex structures globally. Carbon steel is also commonly used in the construction of industrial plants and in the manufacturing of pressure vessels and boilers.

Carbon steel is also used to produce equipment used in mining and construction. Carbon steel is also used to construct machinery and equipment to withstand high temperatures or corrosive environments.

How to Measure the Strength of Steel

If you’re using carbon steel to make a piece of furniture or construction equipment, you’ll want to know how strong it is to prevent it from breaking. There are three commonly used ways to measure the strength of steel. They are:

  • Tensile strength
  • Yield strength
  • Impact strength

Tensile Strength

Tensile strength measures the amount of force required to pull a sample of material apart along its length. It is also called ultimate tensile strength or breaking strength.

Tensile strength is typically expressed as an average. It is defined by the range of breaking strengths that a sample has been estimated to have. Each tensile strength measurement is based on at least three specimens.

Yield Strength

Yield strength is the amount of force that the metal can withstand before it starts to deform plastically. It is expressed as a percentage of the yield strength required to make the metal form a permanent set.

Yield strength is typically expressed as a percentage. The percentage size is determined by the type of material, thickness, and the yield strength required to make the metal deform plastically.

Impact Strength

Impact strength is the amount of energy a material will absorb when subjected to a sharp blow. The amount of energy that a material absorbs is the inverse of its impact strength. Impact strength is typically expressed as a percentage of the energy required to break the material.


Carbon steel exhibits excellent tensile strength, ductility, and formability. These properties make it an ideal choice for construction and machinery applications.

Carbon steel is also a very versatile material. It can be worked with ease by both hand and automated workstation machines. This makes it highly desirable for most industrial applications.

KGS Steel Birmingham is a full line structural steel and carbon steel service center warehouse servicing the southeastern United States since 1985. We stock a full line of carbon plate, sheet, and structural steel at our Bessemer, Alabama and Nashville, Tennessee locations. So, if you’re looking for a steel distributor in Birmingham, AL, we’ve got you covered! Get in touch with us today and let us know how we can help!