Steel vs Iron: Understanding the Difference in CNC Machining(injection moulding materials Phoenix)

  • Time:
  • Click:11
  • source:BREDA CNC Machining


CNC machining plays a pivotal role in numerous industries, allowing for precise and efficient production of various components. When it comes to manufacturing products using this advanced technology, selecting the right material is crucial. Among the commonly used materials in CNC machining, steel and iron are widely sought after for their exceptional properties and durability. In this article, we will delve deeper into the dissimilarities between steel and iron and their applications in CNC machining processes.

Understanding Steel and Iron:

Steel and iron are both alloys primarily composed of iron, with varying quantities of carbon and other elements. However, it is the distinct composition and processing techniques that set them apart. Iron, in its pure form, has relatively poor mechanical properties and limited resistance to corrosion. On the other hand, steel exhibits improved strength, toughness, and corrosion resistance due to its unique composition.

1. The Production Process:

To produce steel, iron undergoes metallurgical refining through a process called smelting. During this process, impurities such as carbon, phosphorus, sulfur, and silicon are removed from iron ore, resulting in molten steel. This liquid steel is then carefully processed, utilizing different heat treatments and alloying additions based on specific requirements, giving rise to various types of steel suitable for diverse applications.

Iron, however, requires less refining compared to steel. Cast iron, which contains around 2-4% carbon, is produced by melting iron along with high amounts of carbon. This results in a brittle material that cannot be easily manipulated or shaped, limiting its use in certain applications.

2. Properties and Applications:

a) Steel:
Steel possesses excellent tensile strength, making it resistant to deformation under stress. Due to its malleability, it can be shaped into intricate designs through CNC machining processes, making it ideal for manufacturing complex components and tools. Moreover, steel exhibits superior corrosion resistance when alloyed with elements such as chromium and nickel, thereby extending its lifespan.

Different types of steels, including stainless steel, tool steel, carbon steel, and alloy steel, find extensive use in industries. Stainless steel is highly desired for its anti-corrosive properties, making it suitable for applications exposed to harsh environments or chemicals. Carbon steel, on the other hand, provides exceptional strength and affordability, often used in construction and machinery components.

b) Iron:
While iron may not possess the same level of strength as steel, it offers distinct advantages in certain applications. Cast iron, known for its excellent heat retention and uniform thermal conductivity, finds extensive use in manufacturing engine blocks, machine tools, and cookware. Its ability to dampen vibration makes it invaluable in the production of heavy-duty parts subjected to substantial loads.

3. Machining Considerations:

When considering CNC machining for steel and iron, several factors must be taken into account. Steel has a higher cutting speed compared to iron due to its enhanced hardness. Additionally, different grades of steel demand specific tools to achieve optimal results during machining processes.

Iron, although more machinable than some harder steels, can still pose challenges due to its brittleness. Ensuring proper cooling techniques and choosing appropriate tooling are crucial to avoid cracking or chipping while machining iron-based components.


CNC machining provides limitless possibilities in the manufacturing world by utilizing advanced technology to precisely shape various materials. Understanding the differences between steel and iron allows us to make informed decisions when selecting the ideal material for CNC machining projects. While steel offers superior strength, toughness, and versatility, iron exhibits unique properties that cater to specific applications. By leveraging their respective attributes, manufacturers can produce high-quality components that meet stringent requirements across multiple sectors. CNC Milling CNC Machining