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Understanding Stainless Steel vs. Steel Materials in Nuts and Bolts

August 13, 2020

Two popular materials that are being used in making nuts and bolts are stainless steel and common steel. While both materials share some similar properties due to their classification under metal, they still contain key differences when it comes to overall tensile strength, resistance against elements, brittleness, galvanic corrosion properties, cost, and many more. These materials are even categorized into more grades and types, making them diverse and more flexible to a wide range of applications.

To know more about nuts and bolts that are made from stainless steel and common steel, here are some of the properties associated with the mentioned materials.

Stainless Steel Properties

Stainless steel is a type of steel that contains at least 10.5% chromium, 1.2% carbon, and other alloying elements. All the elements found on stainless steel enables it to obtain anti-corrosive properties even if its surface is scratched and scraped. However, given the low carbon content of stainless steel, it takes away the ability of this material to be hardened through heat treatment. Therefore, unhardened stainless steel fasteners like nuts and bolts are much weaker than hardened common steel fasteners.

Nuts and bolts can utilize different grades of stainless steel. The most common stainless steel grade that is used in making fasteners is 18/8 stainless steel or Type 304. This stainless steel grade is comprised of 18% chromium and 8% nickel It also has carbon, iron, and other elements. The huge chromium composition of this stainless steel grade protects the iron from oxidation. Nickel, alternatively, helps the material resist more corrosion.

Other types of stainless steel that are utilized in making nuts and bolts are Type 316 and Type 410. Type 316 is great for nuts and bolts that will be used in saltwater and chlorine environments. The only caveat with this stainless steel grade is that it is more expensive than Type 304. Type 410, on the other hand, is maximized as it is more durable and much harder than Type 304. However, this specific material lacks the needed resistance corrosion, especially if the fasteners will be used in corrosive environments.

Common Steel Properties

Steel is perhaps the most used material in fabricating nuts and bolts. Nuts and bolts that are made from steel can come in a plain variant. Other surface treatments like zinc plating, galvanization, and chrome plating are also possible with steel fasteners. The most common grades of steel that are being used in fabricating nuts and bolts are Grade 2, Grade 5, Grade 8, and alloy steels. The first three steel grades can be plated with blueish or yellow zinc coating to withstand corrosion.

Grade 2 steel is the most popular grade of steel for nuts and bolts. Steel nuts and bolts that are made from this grade of steel has low or medium carbon steel and do not contain any head marking. Grade 5 / Grade F steel, in contrast, is medium carbon steel that is processed and hardened to boost tensile strength. Grade 5 bolts are quenched and tempered and have 3 evenly spaced radial lines on their head. Grade F nuts are perfectly combined with Grade 5 bolts.

Grade 8 / Grade G steel is a medium carbon alloy steel that is hardened more than the previous type of steel, making it stronger and more reliable. Nuts and bolts out of this steel grade are utilized in difficult and demanding applications like automotive suspensions. Their heads are comprised of 6 evenly spaced radial lines. Grade G nuts are suitable with Grade 8 bolts.

Alloy steel nuts and bolts came from a high-strength steel alloy that undergoes more heat treatment procedures. They are not plfastated, which makes them obtain a dull black surface. Despite their strong properties, nuts, and bolts that are made from alloy steel can be brittle and susceptible to damages.

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