Carbon steel

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MFA Acc. #: 1988.547


Steel is an alloy of iron with a small percentage of carbon. The amount of carbon present changes the iron from a soft easily worked metal into an extremely hard brittle metal.

--carbon steel Low carbon (mild, soft) steel contains less than 0.3% carbon. It works well when heated to redness and is easily cast. Soft steel is used in construction and as a substitute for iron wrought iron.

--carbon steel Medium carbon (normal) steel contains between 0.3-0.7% carbon. It is easily cast and forged into many shapes. Normal steel is also used for construction.

--carbon steel High carbon (hard) steel contains between 0.7-1.5% carbon. It is very hard and brittle and is used to fortify warships.

--iron Cast iron also contains carbon in concentrations up to 5%.

Synonyms and Related Terms

acier au carbone (Fr.); acero al carbn (Esp.); ao no-ligado (Port.); ao carbono (Port.)


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  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
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