How to Make Steel

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Steel is usually made up of 96 percent to 98 percent iron, and the rest is mainly carbon, but these elements need to possess certain properties to make steel. Discover how to add chromium or manganese when making steel with help from a science teacher in this free video on steel production.

Part of the Video Series: Physics & Electromagnetism
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Steve Jones. I'm going to tell you how to make steel. Well, I'm not actually going to tell you how to make steel, in your home. I don't think that will be possible, but how steel is made. The main thing about steel, is it is actually mainly, iron. In fact, even more than maybe 96%, very often 98% or more, but iron, that's the main component in steel. The rest in steel is mainly carbon, and this might be quite a small proportion, less than 1%, up to just over 2%, so this is the kind of carbon content, so why do this? Well, the answer is, iron itself, pure iron itself, is not a material which is particularly useful, and iron with too much carbon, is also not very useful, because it is brittle, and it doesn't have the properties you need, that is strength, and strength and sheer, when you bend and twist it, so we're looking for the right properties. Carbon, between as I say, half a percent and 2%, provides a very strong material, much stronger material. It also is much more flexible, and it is easy to work with. The additional thing we can do with the steel, which is the iron and carbon, is we can add other materials. Chromium, vanadium, manganese, molybdenum, all of these. Smaller amounts of these, included into the steel, improve certain properties, and particularly one of the properties you're looking for, is something like stainless properties, that is a property of steel, that will not rust. The problem with all iron products, is they do rust, but steel with it's 2% carbon, plus these other trace elements, has the property, that it does not rust. The biggest problem, it is difficult to weld, so iron itself, is much easier to weld, than the stainless steel, and steel is also easier to weld, than stainless steel, so overall, that is how we make steel, and why we make steel, so next time you look at a machine coming into your house, have a look at it. Almost certainly it will contain steel of some kind. It might be a high grade steel, it might be stainless steel, and when you're eating in the kitchen, probably your knives and forks, will contain some of these materials, stainless steel.

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