A36 Steel: Grade Guide & FAQ

Steel is commonly used for providing structural support for a variety of things, such as buildings, machines, and bridges. Due to the various uses of steel, it’s essential to distinguish the different types of steel and their stability. Today you’ll learn about A36 Steel, one of the most common types of steel welders use. We’ll break down A36 steel and talk about the differences between it and other grades of steel.

A welder working on a metal bar

What Is A36 Steel? 

The American Society for Testing and Materials, or ASTM,  A36 Steel is a mild carbon steel used to fabricate, weld, and bend. Its strength and durability make it an excellent choice for adding support for bridges and buildings. A36 can also be used in forming tanks, oil rigs, bearing plates, and machine parts.

The Chemical Composition of Steel

Steel alloy is mostly made of iron, but each can have different elements that it’s composed of. 

A36 steel is composed of various elements such as:

  • Iron (Fe) – 98 %
  • Carbon (C) – 0.25 %
  • Copper (Cu) – 0.20 %
  • Silicon (Si) – 0.280 %
  • Manganese (Mn) – 1.03 %
  • Sulfur (S) – 0.05 %
  • Phosphorous (P) – 0.04 %

Related: Ferrous vs. Non-Ferrous Metals: Knowing the Difference

Properties of A36

Due to each alloy having varying components, the properties of each will be different. All steel has a modulus of elasticity of 29 million psi. The modulus of elasticity measures when a piece of steel will start deforming when there’s too much weight to carry. 

Also, A36 steel is not defined by its chemical composition but its mechanical properties. This means that since most steel grades have a certain amount of alloys that make up their overall composition, A36 only needs to meet certain mechanical composition requirements.

So if you were using A36 steel for a project, the bars and steel plates would need to have minimum requirements for safety reasons.

Other properties of steel are:

  • Yield Strength – The maximum amount of stress before the steel starts to deform
  • Allowable Bending Stress – The stress the steel can carry before it completely contorts out of the plane
  • Ultimate Tensile Strength – The maximum load material can withstand before it fractures

The properties of A36 steel are:

  • Yield Strength 36300 psi
  • Ultimate Tensile Strength – 58000 – 79800 psi
  • Modus of Elasticity 29000 ksi
  • Bulk Modulus – 20300 ksi
  • Shear Modulus – 11500 ksi

Because of these properties, A36 steel can withstand a certain amount of stress even after it has passed its yield strength. So, in an emergency, people will be able to exit a building safely before it collapses.

Various steel beams used to create a structure

Shapes of Steel

As we stated before, because A36 steel has a certain degree of welding capability, you can change it into various shapes, making it easier to use during construction projects. The different forms of A36 include steel tubes such as:

  • American Standard Beam (S-Shaped)
  • Angle (L-Shaped)
  • Bearing Pile (H-Shaped)
  • Pipe
  • Custom Shape
  • Tee ( T-Beam)
  • Channel ( C-Shaped)

How is A36 Steel Made?

ASTM A36 steel is made similarly to other types of carbon steel. First, some coal and iron are combined in a furnace. The contaminants are burned away, and additional elements are added to molten steel. 

After the composition of A36 is achieved, it’s formed into a rectangular shape. However, A36 is usually hot rolled, meaning that it is formed into the desired shape while the steel is at a high temperature.

Related: Benefits of Using Angle Iron for Your Next Project

Different Types of Steel

As we mentioned before, A36 is mild carbon steel that you can use for various reasons. Now we’ll go more in-depth about carbon steel and the other types of steel that people use for their needs.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is used for construction and welding purposes. It has three types: low, mild, and high. It’s one of the most substantial kinds of steel available, which is why people use it for building and forming materials such as knives and car parts.

Alloy Steel

Alloy steel is a mixture of different metals like copper, aluminum, and nickel. At times it’s favored due to having less erosive properties and is used for ship hulls, car parts, and other technical projects. 

However, the strength of alloy steel depends on the type of metals used to make it.

Conjoining steel pipes

Tool Steel

It’s just like the name says; it’s generally used for making tools like hammers, wrenches, and screwdrivers. Materials made out of tool steel use the combination of elements cobalt and tungsten. 

Combining these elements contributes to the durability and heat-resistant features of the tools that are made.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is another common type of steel that’s known. Its base element is chromium, and other factors complete its makeup. Due to a combination of elements, stainless steel is resistant to corrosion and can be changed into different shapes. 

You’ll typically see stainless still in silverware, surgical equipment, and home appliances. At times it can be used for some exterior purposes on buildings.

Do you want to know the difference between hot and cold-rolled steel? South Austin Metals tells you everything you need to know!

Frequently Asked Questions

As you can see, there are various types of metals with different applications for each. However, if you’re considering using A36 steel, here are a few common questions we get asked that can help clarify any concerns you may have.

What Is A36 Steel Used For?

Like we stated above, A36 steel is commonly used for structural support in most buildings and bridges. However, you can use it for:

  • Agricultural and automotive equipment
  • Rings
  • Base Plates
  • Brackets

You can also use A36 steel in certain parts of parking garages, boat landing decks, and some walkways.

Is There a Difference Between 1018 Steel and A36 Steel?

1018 steel and A36 steel are two popular steel types. However, they do have some differences. 1018 steel is more beneficial for machining and finishing purposes, while A36 is favorable for structural applications.

Also, 1018 steel is more expensive than A36 steel. Although both come in hot or cold-rolled forms, cold-rolled 1018 steel and hot-rolled A36 steel are the more popular forms of each. However, since cold-rolled metals are labor-intensive, they will cost more.

Lastly, since A36 steel has lower yield strength than 1018 steel, it is easier to bend, making it a suitable steel type for many projects.

Are There Any Disadvantages To Using A36 Steel?

The one disadvantage of using A36 steel is its low corrosion resistance due to minimal levels of nickel and chromium. In some metals, corrosion is likely to happen, especially if they’re consistently exposed to different environmental factors.

However, since A36 has high tensile strength and can elongate up to 20% of its length, its other properties will remain intact, and it will take many years before needing replacement.

Related: Best Ways to Cut Angle Iron

Buy Your A36 Steel At South Austin Metals

Now that you have a breakdown of A36 steel and the different types of steel, it’s time to start your next project. A36 steel is the best steel that you can use, and why not get it somewhere you won’t have to break the bank? 

At South Austin Metals, we provide quick and affordable metal solutions that can help you work efficiently. We sell all types of metals and custom cuts, too. Also, completing a project on the weekend is no problem. Drop by our store, and we’ll help make sure you’re taken care of.

Helping you complete your project is our top priority at South Austin Metals, so contact us today so we can help you get started!

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