7 Classification Methods of Steel You Should Know

Types of metals

First, let’s see the definition of steel.

Definition of metals from Wikipedia:

Steel is an alloy made up of iron with typically a few tenths of a percent of carbon to improve its strength and fracture resistance compared to other forms of iron.

Then how many types of steel are there?

Let’s dive right in.

According to the different cross-sectional shapes, steel is generally divided into four categories: profiles, plates, pipes and metal products.

It is also divided into the heavy rail, light rail, large section steel, medium section steel, small section steel, steel cold-formed section steel, high-quality section steel, wire rod, medium thick steel plate, thin steel plate, silicon steel sheet for electrical purposes, strip steel, seamless steel pipe steel, welded steel pipe, metal products and other varieties.

ferrous metals and non ferrous metals

Classified by the smelting process

Steel can be divided into:

  • Hand furnace steel
  • Electric furnace steel
  • Converter steel

Converter smelting

And electric furnace steel can be divided into:

  • Electric arc furnace
  • Induction furnace
  • Vacuum induction furnace
  • Electroslag furnace

Crucible type high frequency induction furnace

Crucible type high frequency induction furnace

Electroslag furnace

Electroslag furnace

Classified by the degree of deoxidation

  • Rimmed Steel (Q235AF)
  • Killed steel (Z)
  • Semi-killed steel (b)
  • Special killed steel (TZ)

Rimmed Steel

Rimmed Steel

Classified by application

Steel can be divided into:

  • Structural steel
  • Tool steel
  • Special performance steel

Tool steel

Tool steel

Specifically, structural steel can be further divided into:

  • Building structural steel
  • Machine manufacturing steel

Tool steel can be divided into:

  • Measuring tool steel
  • Cold mold tool steel
  • Hot mold tool steel

Hot mold tool steel

Hot mold tool steel

Special property steel can be divided into:

  • Impact resistant low-temperature steel
  • Stainless acid resistant steel
  • Weathering resistant steel
  • Electrical steel

Electrical steel

Electrical steel

Classified by the metallographic structure

(1) According to the equilibrium state and the annealed structure, it is divided into: hypereutectoid steel, eutectoid steel, hypereutectoid steel and lysitic steel.

(2) According to the normalizing structure, it is divided into: pearlitic steel, bainite steel, martensitic steel and austenitic steel.

(3) According to the metallographic structure of the heating phase with or without phase change, it is divided into: ferritic steel, austenitic steel, martensitic steel, and duplex steel.

Classified by the chemical component

Carbon steel is divided into:

  • Ordinary carbon steel
  • High-quality carbon steel
  • Advanced carbon steel

Ordinary carbon steel

Ordinary carbon steel

Alloy steel is divided into:

  • Low-alloy steel
  • Medium alloy steel
  • High alloy steel

Alloy steel

Alloy steel

Carbon steel:

Also been called mild steel. In addition to iron and carbon, it mainly contains a small amount of impurities like Si, Mn, S, P etc. The total content is not more than 2%. According to the carbon content, it is divided into:

  • Low carbon steel – less than 0.25% carbon
  • Medium carbon steel – carbon content 0.25 ~ 0.6%
  • High carbon steel – carbon content greater than 0.6%

Alloy steel:

In addition to the elements contained in carbon steel, there are other alloying elements such as Cr, Ni, Mo, W, V, B. According to different alloying elements, it’s divided into:

  • Low alloy steel – less than 5% alloy
  • Medium alloy steel – alloy content 5-10%
  • High alloy steel – alloy content greater than 10%

Alloy Steel

Classified by quality

(1) Ordinary steel

(2) High-quality steel

(3) Premium quality steel A

(4) Special high-quality steel E

Classified by shape

Thick Plate


  • 2-4.0 mm: steel sheet
  • 4-20mm:medium plate
  • >20mm: thick plate


  • Seamless tube (hot rolled, cold drawn and pressed)
  • Seamedwelding tube (straight seam pipe, spiral tube)

Seamless tube

Seamless tube


Angle steel, channel steel, I-beam, round steel, square steel, flat steel and hexagonal steel.


Wire rod:

Rebar, steel wire and iron wire

Wire rod

Now you have known the different types of steels, do you know how many types of metals are there? You can read the following post to learn the type of metal:

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