• Question: how much is steel to the ton and what is it good for/what are its properties?

    Asked by blue to Adam, Eloise, Iona, Jarrod, Yip on 20 Jun 2016.
    • Photo: Jarrod Hart

      Jarrod Hart answered on 20 Jun 2016:

      Yoiu can see how the price of steel has varied here:

      It is presently around $300/t, but has been much higher in the recent past.

      Steel is really a hybrid of iron and carbon – the carbon makes the iron more ductile (stretchy when hot) and also tougher (less brittle).

      Steel is really useful because it has incredible strength and can be easily molded and worked into useful shapes. Think about the alternatives – how about a car made of pottery, or a a bicycle made of glass?

      It is quite heavy though which is why people are trying to replce it with plastic and fancy ‘composites (a fancy word for a mixture of things, like glue and fibre-glass).

      Steel rusts of course, but this can be adjusted by adding vanadium and other metals – they do not actually stop the metal rusting, they make it so the rust is stronger and when it forms, it becomes a protective coating!

      We call mixtures of metals ‘alloys’, and there are millions of recipes you can use to get strength, or flexibility or electrical conductivity or whatever you need!

    • Photo: Iona Strawson

      Iona Strawson answered on 20 Jun 2016:

      I use steel a lot in my job. We get different grades and types such as mild steel or stainless steel. Stainless steel is more expensive but it doesn’t rust.

      We use it for cabinets and brackets mostly, but also machine frames. As Jarrod pointed out, it can come in different shapes and sizes, we use mostly sheet metal that is then laser cut, folded and welded.

      We sometimes work with steel tubes as well, for frames but also for ducting.