Understanding the Differences Between Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel

Stainless steel rods in randomly located rows

According to the 2020 U.S. Industry Statistics & Market Research, the future growth rate and outlook of fabricated metal product manufacturing in the United States look very promising. Every year, hundreds of thousands of components and products are produced by a variety of manufacturers using metal fabrication practices.

If you’re relatively new in the business, one of the most critical factors that might concern you is the type of material that you should use for your components or products. If your final decision is tied between carbon steel and stainless steel, here’s a brief guide that’ll help you understand the difference between both ferrous materials and help you make the right call:


If the aesthetic value has a significant role in the perceived value of the equipment or product, stainless steel is the desired choice for most manufacturers.

Stainless steel provides a glossy and lustrous look that makes the outer surface more appealing.

The steel finish can also be made reflective like a mirror by increase the amount of chromium in the alloy.

On the other hand, carbon fiber provides a dull appearance. Due to matte finish, carbon fiber requires sanding and polishing to appear shinier.

Moreover, a clear coat of paint on carbon fiber is necessary to prevent rusting and preserve the new look for an extended period.

Corrosion Resistance

When it comes to corrosion resistance, there’s also a big gap between carbon steels and stainless steels, mainly due to the one element that sets them apart: chromium.

Both materials contain iron, which creates rust when exposed to the environment. But the added chromium in stainless steel improves its resistance to corrosion.

As carbon steel doesn’t have a chromium oxide layer for protection, it’s prone to corrosion. Hence, if you prioritize corrosion resistance, you should opt for stainless steel.

Cost Implications

Finally, the price can be an important factor in determining which type of metal to choose for your next metal fabrication project.

Typically, carbon steels are more economical than stainless steel in terms of material price due to the absence of additional alloy material like chromium.

If you have a tight budget and want a relatively cheaper material, carbon fiber can help you cut down your material costs and save money.

However, if you look at the long-term value, stainless steel will provide a better return on investment due to its corrosion resistance property.

If you’re looking for top-quality welding and cutting services in Wasilla, Alaska? Get in touch with today! At PlasmaTech, we have experts that use state-of-the-art technologies to provide premium-grade quality Welding services in Wasilla at affordable rates. Our professional can also help you choose the right material for your project. Call 281-745-7125 to get started!