Steel is an alloy of iron – that is, a metal that is made from the combination of iron and other substances. These other substances are usually carbon, nickel, tungsten and chromium; the last of these, chromium is often added to make the popular type of steel known as stainless steel (i.e. steel that is resistant to corrosion). The use of steel began together with the Industrial Revolution of the 17th-18th centuries in England, and today, steel has largely replaced many other popular alloys and metals in the field of construction.
From being used as sheets from metal roof battens in Perth to being used as rods, the use of steel can be witnessed in various different forms as it is applied to the construction of infrastructure, buildings, furniture, machines and equipment. The reason behind the popularity of steel can be simply placed on its physical properties. Steel is strong – the strongest alloy if you consider its strength-to-weight ratio (i.e. just how strong an alloy or metal is in proportion to its weight; this basically means that even a very light piece of steel can showcase a formidable strength). Coupled with its durability, this makes it very ideal in the construction of infrastructure and buildings. Furthermore, thanks to the international standards to which the production of steel is subjected to, there are no differences in the quality of steel that is produced across countries, which means that steel has a high reliability as well.
The other two principal benefits that steel shows are in its environmental friendliness and its cost-effectiveness. About two thirds of all produced steel are recycled in a process that does not detract any of its properties; this basically means that every steel product has at least one fourth of recycled steel in it. The fact that steel is so widely recycled also translates into the fact that it is a much cheaper material, and its durability make it cost-effective in the long term prospects.
The most popular uses of steel are in the production of the various scaffold planks, studs, bolts and fasteners that are used to join and connect materials together and its use in the production of reinforced concrete (RCC), which is basically concrete that is strengthened by the inclusion of steel rods and bars into it. Since reinforced concrete has the added benefits of steel, it can withstand an enormous amount of stress, and therefore is widely used in the construction of buildings and infrastructure.
Steel has thus invaded the field of construction and expanded the possibilities that the modern constructor and builder can achieve. The best example that could be quoted here would be the construction of skyscrapers, which were only made possible thanks to the invention and implementation of steel frames!