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Mild Steel 101: A Beginner's Guide to Understanding Low Carbon Steel

What is Mild Steel?

Mild steel, also known as low-carbon steel, is a term for carbon steel with low carbon content, usually containing less than 0.25%. Mild steel is a popular material used across many different industries due to its cost-effectiveness and versatile properties. In this article, we will walk you through examples of popular alloys, main properties, and real-world applications in hopes we can clarify what mild steel is.

How to Identify: The 4-digit AISI / SAE classification codes for mild steel start with "10" and end with two digits that are less than 20, indicating the approximate carbon content of the steel in hundredths.

AISI and SAE Designation example AISI and SAE Designation example

Steel Designation Table

SAE Designation


Type: Carbon Steels

Type: Nickel Steels

Type: Nickel-Chromium Steels

Type: Molybdenum Steels

Type: Chromium Steels

Type: Chromium-Vanadium Steels

Type: Tungsten Steels

Type: Nickel-Chromium-Vanadium Steels

Type: Silicon-Manganese Steels

Popular Mild Steel Alloys

1018: This is a popular grade of mild steel that contains 0.18% carbon, as well as small amounts of other elements such as manganese and silicon. It is commonly used to make bolts, screws, and shafts.

A36: This is a mild steel alloy that contains low levels of carbon, as well as small amounts of other elements such as manganese and silicon. It is commonly used in construction, automotive, and manufacturing applications.

A1008: This is a common low-carbon steel with excellent weldability and formability. For optimal results, A1008 needs to be painted or otherwise maintained to avoid quick oxidization and rusting. It is typically used in home appliances, furniture, and automotive applications.

12L14: 12L14 steel is the most popular free-machining alloy steel. Its free-cutting properties, coupled with its ability to maintain a smooth surface finish, make it ideal for use in the manufacturing of intricate parts, such as bolts, screws, and bushings. It is a popular choice for applications that require precision machining, such as in the automotive and aerospace industries.

Properties of mild steel hero Properties of mild steel hero

Tough and Flexible: Properties of Mild Steel

Known for its ductility, toughness, and malleability, mild steel is a versatile material that can be extremely easy to work with. Let’s dive deeper into what that means:

Ductility: Mild steel can be deformed under tensile stress, without losing its toughness or strength, allowing it to be formed into various shapes and sizes.

Toughness: Mild steel can withstand impact, shock, and other forms of mechanical stress without breaking or cracking, making it durable and resistant to wear and tear.

Malleability: Mild steel can be hammered, pressed, or rolled into different shapes without cracking or breaking, allowing it to be easily molded into different forms while retaining its strength and durability.

Applications of mild steel hero Applications of mild steel hero

Versatile Applications of Mild Steel

Based on the properties above, you’re probably coming around to the concept of how universally mild steel can be used across major industries. Here are some specific examples of how mild steel is used:

  • Construction: Mild steel is used to make structural components, such as beams, columns, and plates, for buildings, bridges, and other infrastructure projects.
  • Automotive: Mild steel is used to make various parts for cars, trucks, and other vehicles, including chassis, exhaust systems, and suspension components.
  • Manufacturing: Mild steel is used to make a variety of products, such as pipes, wire, and nails, as well as machinery and equipment for factories.
  • Furniture: Mild steel is used to make various types of furniture, such as chairs, tables, and shelves, due to its strength and durability.
  • Home appliances: Mild steel is used to make various home appliances, such as refrigerators, washing machines, and ovens, due to its strength and heat resistance.

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