On Abrasion Resistance in Steel Products

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On Abrasion Resistance in Steel Products

abrasion resistance steel products

There are a few processes that may take place when two materials come into contact with one another, and one of these within the metal world (and several others) is known as abrasion. Referring to a process where materials are rubbed against each other, abrasion may impact steel in a variety of ways — but in settings where these impacts are not desirable, the use of certain abrasion-resistant steels may be necessary.

At Wasatch Steel, we’re happy to discuss abrasion resistance and any other qualities you may require in any of your steel plate, steel sheet, steel bar or other steel products. What exactly is abrasion within the world of steel, and why might or might not it be desirable? Furthermore, what is abrasion-resistant steel and how might it benefit those who want to avoid certain abrasion risks? Here’s a primer.

Abrasion in Steel

As we touched on above, abrasion occurs when materials are rubbed across one another, typically over a lengthy period of time. Within steel, there are several forms of abrasion that are carried out intentionally: Things like sanding, grinding, drilling and machining require the removal of material, which is typically done by rubbing particles against one another.

Within these processes, it’s important to know that some types of steel are more durable than others: Those with a higher alloy content may be able to handle these circumstances better than those with lower grades.

In addition, there are many cases where unintentional abrasion can take place on a metal. This can lead to a few negative results, including component failure, loss of strength and more.

Now, different steels come with varying levels of abrasion resistance within any given application, so it’s important to know what type is best for your job. Some steels are even manufactured with abrasion resistance as a specific feature, which you’ll want to learn more about.

Abrasion-Resistant Steel Manufacturing and Qualities

The term abrasion resistance is used to describe certain steels that can endure significant levels of wear and tear over time. There are countless examples of the types of steel found within this category, though some are better suited for specific applications than others.

Generally speaking, abrasion resistant steel will be made from iron ore, carbon and certain other alloying elements. The iron ore will be melted in a blast furnace, removing all impurities before it is formed into steel.

Layer welding, which takes place between two or more sheets of metal to create a sturdy barrier (or several layers), is another common form of production. Throughout the process, abrasion-resistant steels may also undergo shot blasting, where small metal cubes are propelled at high speeds onto the surface of the steel, smoothing it and improving its overall durability.

As for advantages, abrasion-resistant steels are known for their strength and resistance to damage caused by friction. They can withstand lengthy periods of wear and tear with little impact on performance, making them easy to machine or cut into components.

This steel type has a few differing characteristics than those of other steels, such as:

  • Higher hardness and yield strength than carbon steel
  • Stronger than carbon steel but not as strong as alloyed tool steel
  • Can exhibit both sulfur and phosphorus on surface
  • Generally more expensive than standard steels

Heat Treatment

Another factor that helps steel improve its abrasion resistance is heat treatment. Steel needs to have a microstructure that allows for high hardness, and this often involves adding certain alloys that will also improve strength and durability. But how can it be done?

  • Quenching: This is the process that involves extremely fast cooling, which helps to create a tough and durable surface on the steel itself. Temper quenches or other hardening processes may take place as well.
  • Tempering: This is a secondary heat treatment, where the steel is heated up and then cooled more slowly. This process can affect certain issues, including hardenability, strength, toughness and ductility.

Types of Abrasion Resistant Steel

When it comes to grades and types of abrasion resistant steel, an important element to be aware of is the Brinell hardness scale. This is because hardness is a vital quality when it comes to abrasion, and it can be measured using a Brinell hardness number.

For example, a common grade of abrasion resistant steel is AR400. The “400” part of this name refers to the Brinell hardness number, which means it has a Brinell hardness of 400.

As for what this means practically: A Brinell hardness of 400 is relatively hard and strong, and also happens to resist grinding. It’s an excellent choice when abrasion resistance is a must.

Common Applications

For the above reasons, abrasion-resistant steel can be used in several different applications, including:

  • Abrasive and grinding machinery: Whether it’s a steel drum, a conveyor belt or other component, abrasion resistant steels are often the best choice.
  • Scrubbers: Whether located in a steel finishing plant, an oil refinery or several other types of manufacturing facilities, scrubbers need to withstand significant wear and tear. That’s why abrasion-resistant steels are a common choice.
  • Conveyor/rail car chains: In this case, the steel needs to be able to withstand wear and tear due to impact and abrasion. For that reason, high-strength abrasion resistant steels are often the best choice.
  • Forging dies: As with steel for conveyor/rail car chains, it’s important for forging dies to be made from a grade and type of steel that is both strong and also abrasion resistant.
  • Abrasive wheels: Whether used with an angle grinder or another power tool, abrasion-resistant steels are often the best choice when it comes to these components as well.

For more on abrasion resistance in steel, or to learn about any of our steel products or services, speak to the team at Wasatch Steel today.