ME 4133/6133 Mechanical Metallurgy



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The first known use of carbon steel dates back to 500 A.D. when a blacksmith mistakenly used iron ore as a primary material for smithing. This material, as the name suggests, is made up of both carbon and iron. This material, as one of the most abundant at the time, was used most frequently in European and Asian countries. “Carbon steel first appeared around the year 500 AD in Damascus steel swords as well as Japanese swords. They were prized for their sharp edges and sturdiness compared to other weapons of the era. The composition of these swords was very similar to modern carbon steel, yet superior in several mysterious ways” (Forged Components 2022).

Carbon steels are classified into four categories based on the iron/carbon ratio. Low-carbon steels consist of less than .30%, medium-carbon steels consist of carbon from a range of .30% - .60%, while high and ultra-high-carbon steels have a carbon content of .6% or 1.50% respectively (Figure 1). “Generally, carbon is the most important commercial steel alloy. Increasing carbon content increases hardness and strength and improves hardenability. But carbon also increases brittleness and reduces weldability because of its tendency to form martensite” (Capudean 2003).


High Carbon Steel


Materials Science and Engineering | Mechanical Engineering | Metallurgy


College of Engineering (historic)


Department of Mechanical Engineering

High Carbon Steel in Additive Manufacturing