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Steel Fabrication Raw Materials

What are the raw materials that are used by steel fabricators like Kelly Steel? They vary from project to project and this blog will reveal the main materials required.

Steel fabrication is a cornerstone of modern construction, providing the structural backbone for buildings, bridges and a wide variety of projects that allow us to better live our lives. 

Behind the strength and versatility of steel structures lies a meticulous process that involves a careful selection of materials. 

In this article, we will delve into the key materials used in steel fabrication, shedding light on their roles and significance in creating durable, resilient and efficient structures.

The essential raw materials in steel fabrication

While all steel fabrication projects rely on raw materials, it’s also true that only three are absolutely required. These are iron ore, coal and limestone. 

Iron ore, as its name would suggest, is the primary source of iron and is the main raw material used in all steel production. Coal serves as the fuel for the blast furnace, a large, vertical furnace used in steelmaking. While coal is primarily a fuel, it is also a reducing agent and is essential to transform iron ore into molten iron. Meanwhile, limestone aids in removing impurities during the process. 

Structural steel

While iron ore, coal and limestone are the primary raw materials used to make steel – and are, therefore, the keys in steel fabrication projects – most steel includes additional materials.

Carbon is the most common raw material required for structural steel, which is designed to provide strength, durability, and load-bearing in steel fabrication projects.

The carbon in structural steel enhances the product’s strength and hardness. Compared with iron, carbon forms only a small amount of the raw materials used in structural steel. However, it contributes greatly to the overall durability and structural integrity.

Other raw materials that you can find in structural steel include manganese, silicon and copper. These materials may be added to enhance specific properties like hardness, tensile strength and corrosion resistance.

Structural steel

Stainless steel

What about the raw materials used in stainless steel, the product you will find in the cutlery, the taps and, yes, even in your kitchen sink? Items you use everyday.

The prime features of stainless steel are corrosion resistance and aesthetic appeal and the raw materials used complement these features. We’re talking, of course, about iron, and you’ll also find elements like chromium, nickel and other alloying elements in stainless steel. 

These raw materials make stainless steel highly resistant to rust, staining and corrosion, which is why it is ideal for applications in harsh environments. 

Aluminium

While not as commonly used in steel fabrication as steel products, aluminium is crucial in specific applications. 

Aluminium offers a unique combination of lightweight, corrosion resistance and malleability. It is often used in fabricating components where weight reduction is a priority, such as in the aerospace and transportation industries. 

Additionally, aluminium’s natural oxide layer provides a protective barrier against corrosion, making it highly suitable for outdoor structures.

Alloying elements

Steel fabrication involves strategically adding alloying elements to enhance specific properties of steel and other materials. 

Common alloying elements include manganese, which improves hardenability and weldability; silicon, which aids in deoxidation and improves strength; and nickel, which enhances toughness and corrosion resistance. 

The careful balance of these elements allows fabricators to tailor steel properties according to the project’s requirements.

Welding consumables

Welding is a fundamental process in steel fabrication, combining various components to form a cohesive structure. 

Welding consumables, such as electrodes and filler metals, are critical in achieving strong and reliable welds. The choice of welding consumables depends on the type of steel being used, the welding method and the project’s specific requirements. 

Common types include shielded metal arc welding electrodes, gas metal arc welding wires and flux-cored arc welding consumables.

Welding consumables

Protective coatings

Protective coatings are applied during or after fabrication to safeguard steel structures from corrosion and environmental degradation. 

These coatings include paints, primers, and specialised corrosion-resistant coatings. The selection of the appropriate protective coating depends on factors such as the structure’s intended use, exposure to weather conditions, and aesthetic considerations.

Raw materials and passion combine for steel fabrication professionalism

While the above highlights the main raw materials required for steel fabrication, there other essential ingredients in any successful project. These are the ‘raw materials’ of skills, experience, expertise and, perhaps above all, passion.

At Kelly Steel, we manage all types of industrial, commercial, and residential steel fabrication projects. We use our skills, experience, and expertise and the required raw materials to construct the steel structures our clients need. 

We don’t just construct steel structures, however. With our passion for the industry and our commitment to clients, we also focus on building relationships. 

It’s one of the reasons we’ve been a valued steel fabrication partner for the past 30 years. And it’s a quality that will see us grow stronger over the next 30 years and beyond.

Will structural steel produced today still be around in 100 years

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