The Properties of 1040 Steel


Crankshafts, couplings and cold-headed parts are often fabricated from 1040 steel, according to the ferrous and non-ferrous metals information website, All Metals and Forge Group. 1040 steel also works well for machine, plow and carriage bolts, tie wire, U-bolts, concrete reinforcing rods, forgings and non-critical springs, according to the MatWeb Material Property Data website.

Component Elements

  • 1040 is a medium-carbon steel composed of 0.37 to 0.44 percent carbon, 0.6 to 0.9 percent manganese, a maximum of 0.04 percent phosphorus and a maximum of 0.05 sulphur, according to its material property data sheet at Metal Suppliers Online. The remainder is iron. 1040 steel sometimes contains 0.1 to 0.35 percent silicon, according to Interlloy, an Australia-based alloy engineering steel, tool steel and specialty steel producer.

    1040 must be pre-heated to 300 to 500 degrees F before welding and reheated to between 1100 degrees F and 1200 degrees F after welding, advises All Metals Forge Group. Otherwise, the area near the weld may develop cracks or become brittle and cause the part to fail during use.

Tensile Strength

  • Ultimate tensile strength is the maximum load a material will support before it breaks, explains Instron, a materials testing laboratory. Ultimate tensile strength testing is a destruction test. The purpose is to find the point at which a material will fail when supporting a given load or sustaining a set force.

    1040 steel will support 90,000 pounds of force per square inch before it fails, if it was hot-rolled, according to Engineers Edge, a website for product designers, engineers and manufacturing professionals. This strength drops to 85,500 psi when the steel has been normalized, or returned as closely as possible to the state it was in when it was produced. Tensile strength drops even further, to 72,250, when it has been annealed, or brought to its softest point while cold.

    Normalizing and annealing are two examples of heat treatments. In heat treatment the temperature of the steel is changed in order to alter its molecular structure and change its reaction to various forces during forging and fabrication, according to metallurgist David Pye's heat treatment tutorial at Moldmaking Technology.


  • Ductility is the ability of a material to change shape under stress and force without breaking, according to Engineers Edge. It is also a measure of how far a material will stretch or spread under force before it cracks or flakes. The more ductile a metal is, the easier it is to deform and reform without applying heat. Automakers take advantage of the ductility of steel when they build in what are called "crumple zones." These are parts of a car that are intentionally designed to crumple under force, absorbing impact and preventing injury to the driver and passengers.

    1040 steel can be deformed to just under 28 percent of its original dimensions with a 54.9 percent reduction in area, according to MatWeb. Reduction in area is the difference between the original piece prior to testing and the minimum area after the break divided by the area of the original piece, according to Engineers Edge.

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