Obvious as it is, steel is the most reliable material that can be used to form the skeleton of any building or structure and also keep its foundation strong. It is also the most regarded alloy in civil engineering due to its versatile mechanical and thermal properties.
In spite of the advent of strong and more durable composites, there is no one single material that has been successfully experimented as a replacement for steel in construction either due to failure after prolonged duration or due to costs of production.
Steel is also regarded as the backbone of world economy. If steel falls, the economy falls with it.
This article will delve into the properties of steel that make it strong and reliable despite not being a new innovation.
Malleability and Ductility
Steel can be made malleable and ductile by manipulating the percentage of carbon in its make. High malleability allows steel to be beaten into sheets for use in construction of sports fields, houses, skyscrapers and others.
High ductility allows it to be drawn into wires or thin cylinders for use as Rebar (reinforced steel bar) in holding structures together.
Strength and Toughness
Yield strength is the most important property any civil engineer considers. Construction rebars are designed to have extremely high yield strengths that help withstand high loads and stresses with no crack propagation.
Construction grade steel is known for its toughness, which is the ability to resist brittle fracture. Steel with high toughness can withstand extremely high impact energy before breaking.
Construction-grade steel is known for its exceptional thermal graphs. Due its high mass density and specific heat capacity, it takes huge thermal loads before softening and eventually melting.
Compared to many modern materials that are trying to replace it, steel in bulk quantity is cheaper. The low price per unit of steel is because of the ease of producing it. Also a low price per unit results in a drop in the overall price of the structure to be constructed.
Steel is used not only in making rebars but also roofs and walls. Due to its high corrosion resistance, the cost of maintaining it is pretty low. Rebars don’t generally break except during calamities, hence doesn’t require maintenance or replacement unlike engineered wood that is being used a few countries as a replacement for steel.
As per experts, steel will continue to reign in the construction industry and almost all other industries and might never get replaced, unless there is a better man-made material more durable and cheaper than it.