Steel vs. Iron: Comparing Properties and Applications in CNC Machining(medical grade polymers Lesley)

  • Time:
  • Click:13
  • source:DAHLER CNC Machining


CNC machining has revolutionized the manufacturing industry, making it possible to produce intricate and precise parts with minimal human intervention. In this article, we'll delve into the world of CNC machining, focusing on two vital materials - steel and iron. We will compare their properties, applications, and explore how these materials are produced.

Properties of Steel and Iron:

Steel is an alloy primarily composed of iron and carbon. It offers exceptional strength, durability, and versatility. With proper composition adjustments, steel can possess various properties like corrosion resistance, high temperature resistance, magnetic permeability, and hardness, which makes it suitable for a wide range of applications.

Iron, on the other hand, is a pure element known for its abundance and affordability. While iron lacks some desirable characteristics found in steel, such as higher tensile strength or increased corrosion resistance, it outperforms steel when it comes to magnetism. Its magnetic properties make iron ideal for applications where magnetization is essential, such as transformers or electric motors.

Applications of Steel in CNC Machining:

1. Aerospace Industry: Steel's lightweight nature coupled with its superior strength allows it to be used extensively in aerospace components, including aircraft frames, turbine engines, landing gear, and more.

2. Automotive Industry: From engine blocks to suspension systems, steel plays a crucial role due to its excellent structural integrity and resilience against extreme conditions.

3. Tool & Die Making: Steel's hardness and wear resistance make it perfect for producing tools such as milling cutters, punches, dies, and molds, ensuring longevity and precision during repetitive operations.

4. Medical Equipment: Stainless steel, a particular type of steel, exhibits excellent biocompatibility, corrosion resistance, and ease of sterilization, making it a preferred choice in medical equipment, prosthetics, and implants.

5. Construction Sector: Steel beams, reinforcement bars, and structural elements find extensive use in buildings, bridges, and other infrastructure projects due to their strength, durability, and ability to withstand heavy loads.

Applications of Iron in CNC Machining:

1. Electrical Equipment: Thanks to its magnetic properties, iron is a key component in producing transformers, generators, solenoids, motors, and switches that require high electromagnetic efficiency.

2. Ferrous Metals Manufacturing: The production of various ferrous alloys heavily relies on iron as the base material. These alloys find applications across sectors such as construction, automotive manufacturing, appliances, and more.

3. Decorative Artifacts & Furniture: Wrought iron's aesthetic appeal, coupled with its malleability, allows artisans to create ornate designs for gates, railings, furniture pieces, and outdoor decorative items.

4. Heavy Machinery: Iron castings offer excellent shock absorption and resistance against extreme forces, making them suitable for components like engine blocks, transmission housings, and other parts in heavy machinery.

Production Process:

The production of both steel and iron involves several steps, including mining, extraction, refining, and alloying.

Steel Production:
1. Iron ore is extracted from mines and processed to remove impurities.
2. The purified iron ore undergoes smelting in a blast furnace, where it is mixed with coke and limestone.
3. The resulting molten iron is then converted to steel in a basic oxygen furnace or electric arc furnace by adding specific alloying elements to achieve desired composition and properties.
4. Further refinement through secondary processes like continuous casting, rolling, and heat treatment ensures the final product meets industry requirements.

Iron Production:
1. Mining of iron ore occurs, and the mineral-rich rocks are crushed and refined.
2. The refined iron ore goes through a process called sintering, which creates small fused ore particles.
3. Coke, limestone, and recycled steel and iron scrap are added to a blast furnace where they are heated to extreme temperatures.
4. Molten iron is obtained at the bottom of the furnace and is then cast into various forms such as bars, ingots, or sheets.


Steel and iron play integral roles in CNC machining due to their unique properties, which cater to a wide range of applications across industries. Steel's versatility, strength, and resilience make it suitable for aerospace, automotive, tool making, medical equipment, and construction sectors. On the other hand, iron's magnetic characteristics find extensive use in electrical equipment, casting heavy machinery parts, producing alloys, and creating artistic pieces. Understanding the differences and benefits of both materials helps manufacturers choose the most appropriate option for their specific needs, ensuring high-quality end products through CNC machining processes. CNC Milling CNC Machining