Steel is the most widely used material for building the world’s infrastructure and industries. Due to its high tensile strength and low cost, steel is a major component used in buildings, infrastructure, tools, ships, automobiles, machines and more. However, the major advantages of composites prove why many companies are making the steel-to-composite conversion. Here are the benefits of composites:
Composites can be up to 70 percent lighter than steel. To put that into a perspective, while a cubic foot of cast steel weighs around 490 pounds, the same cubic foot of a composite material would be equivalent to 147 pounds. The weight difference saves money on shipping along with decreasing the health hazards for employees. If you’re driving a vehicle, then of course it means you can likely drive farther without having to fill up the tank since your car is MUCH lighter.
When increasing the strength of steel, it must be equally strong in all directions thickening the material and causing an increase in weight. Composites however can be engineered and designed to be strong in a specific direction while keeping it lightweight. Engineers have been applying this technique for many decades, it’s even possible now for engineers to model and predict the strength of composites using computer software, giving engineers confidence in their designs prior to building molds.
A common issue with the aging of steel is corrosion. In outdoor applications, steel will rust unless painted with zinc which requires time and money. Rusted steel, when left untreated, will eventually fail and fall apart. Composites resist weather damage and other harsh chemicals that would typically eat away at materials like steel. You’ll often find composites in applications where aluminum and stainless steel have traditionally been used since it performs just as well or better in applications where corrosion can be an issue.
Unlike steel, composites are nonconductive. They do not respond to an electric field and resist the flow of an electric charge. This makes composites ideal for items such as electrical utility poles and circuit boards in electronics.
The Steel Tariff
Learn more about how the steel tariff will affect manufacturing.