They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And if you’re holding high hopes for carbon steel tubing for your next job, rest assured it’s far more valuable in function than in form.
Carbon steel may not be your type of pretty, but it certainly gets the job done. gets the job done for the cost-conscious buyer.
What is Carbon Steel Tubing?
Carbon steel is a steel alloy of -- you guessed it -- carbon and iron. The high carbon content is responsible for carbon steel’s dark color.
Fun Fact: 70% of all steel is recycled, more than aluminum, plastic, paper, and glass combined.
Each type of carbon steel brings a different result, particularly when welding. Steel with more than 2% carbon is considered cast iron.
Here’s how carbon steel is categorized:
- High-carbon steels -- 0.61% to 2.1% carbon
- Medium-carbon steels -- 0.30% to 0.60% carbon
- Mild steels -- less than 0.30% carbon
Related Article: Advantages of Carbon Steel Tubing
The Best Ways to Use Carbon Steel Tubing
Engineering and Construction
Let’s start at the top: steel scaffolding is the construction industry standard since it can easily support workers and heavy equipment. With no nuts and bolts required, assembly is quick and easy. And it’s not like you need scaffolding to be pretty, right?
Down below, carbon steel is used in building foundations because of its high strength. Mild steel is usually the chosen alloy.
Down way below, carbon steel tubing and pipe is highly resistant to the shock and vibration of traffic, making it ideal for infrastructure under roads.
Carbon steel pipe is also resistant to corrosion, meaning it can transport:
- Water and wastewater
- Oil and gas
You’ve already heard about the strength, but it’s also elasticity and ductility that makes carbon steel pipes perfect for high pressure applications. Under stress, they can bend further without breaking. Mild steel is the most ductile carbon steel due to its low carbon content.
Carbon steel tubing is popular for use in chemical processing. A sturdy steel is necessary when petrochemical producers convert intermediates into a large variety of chemical derivatives.
You’ll also see this steel in the commercial fire and water boiler sector. Carbon steel tubes are built for use in high-pressure (HP) heaters. They’re used for boiler and condenser tubes, and to transport steam. What a metal.
Sprinkler systems and other high-heat, low-temp, high-pressure applications benefit from the sturdiness of carbon steel.
In these industries, part failure often ends painfully for someone nearby. Carbon steel tubing ensures steam, pressurized gases, and other fluids get where they need to go efficiently and safely.
Making Things Go (Properly)
In mechanical applications, tight tolerances are necessary to prevent accidents or product failure. Tool and die manufacturers are hugely dependent on carbon steel. Applications include:
- Tools of various kinds
- Agricultural products
- Solar components
- Technological components
Carbon steel tubing is oh-so easy to manufacture to tight tolerances, and it’s inexpensive to boot.
Since the early 1990s, the auto industry has also used steel tubing at an increasing rate. Precision steel tubes connect and support the vehicle, including in:
- Vehicle control
- Fuel injection
Carbon steel tubing exists in idlers, fuel transfer systems, HVAC systems, and lancing pipes. It's relatively lightweight, yet can stand up to the stress of daily driving. It's also resistant to the corrosive properties of various fluids that circulate throughout the vehicle.
Once again, hollow carbon steel tubing is a lightweight solution, this time for indoor and outdoor furniture. It easily withstands the stresses of daily life with rambunctious kids and pets.
Carbon steel tubing is found in home furniture such as:
- Patio furniture
- Dining sets
On the commercial side, hospital outfitters are quite fond of steel tubing for their beds.
Carbon Steel Tubing for Commercial & Industrial Applications
In many engineering applications, looks are irrelevant -- it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Carbon steel tubing is cost-effective, durable, and versatile, so it’s little wonder it’s perfect for many industrial and commercial applications.