Exploring the Differences Between Steel and Iron in CNC Machining(hardness in materials Wendell)

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In the world of CNC machining, two fundamental components often take center stage - steel and iron. Both materials are integral to various industries and serve crucial roles in manufacturing processes. While steel and iron may appear similar on the surface, they possess distinct characteristics that make each suitable for specific applications. In this article, we delve into the differences between steel and iron in CNC machining, shedding light on their unique properties and discussing their production processes.

Distinguishing Features of Steel and Iron:

Steel is an alloy consisting primarily of iron, carbon, and other elements such as nickel, chromium, or manganese. Its versatility stems from its ability to be molded into different forms while exhibiting exceptional strength and durability. With a higher carbon content than iron, steel possesses greater tensile strength, making it perfectly adaptable for use in structural projects, machinery, automobiles, and tools.

CNC Machining with Steel:
To produce steel through CNC machining, manufacturers employ techniques like turning, milling, drilling, and grinding. This process begins by selecting the appropriate grade and type of steel based on the desired mechanical properties and application requirements. CNC machines then precisely shape the raw material using computer-aided programming. The result is a precise and finished component ready for assembly in various industries.

Iron naturally occurs as a mineral and is one of the most abundant elements on Earth's crust. When refined, it becomes an essential material used extensively across numerous sectors due to its high resistance to heat and corrosion. Pure iron alone is relatively soft and malleable, which makes it a useful raw material for creating alloys such as steel.

CNC Machining with Iron:
While iron itself doesn't undergo extensive CNC machining, iron-based alloys, including cast iron and ductile iron, find widespread use. Cast iron, known for its excellent wear resistance and stability, is utilized in producing automotive components, machinery equipment, and heavy-duty applications. Ductile iron, on the other hand, boasts impressive strength and ductility, making it highly suitable for pipelines, construction materials, and hydraulic systems.

Comparing Properties of Steel and Iron:

In terms of strength, steel outperforms iron due to its higher carbon content. Steel's enhanced tensile strength empowers it to withstand higher loads and forces without deformation or failure, ensuring longevity in demanding applications.

Steel is considered more machinable compared to iron. Its composition allows CNC machines to cut through it easily, providing precise results during milling, turning, or drilling processes. On the other hand, iron-based alloys tend to be more abrasive, requiring specialized tooling and machining techniques to achieve desired outcomes.

Corrosion Resistance:
While both materials corrode to some extent, especially when exposed to moisture and atmospheric conditions, steel exhibits better corrosion resistance than iron. Various treatments such as galvanizing, coating, and passivation can further enhance steel's ability to withstand rust and prolong its lifespan.

Iron generally tends to be less expensive than steel due to its availability and simpler production process. However, the specific type and grade of steel required for a particular application may impact the relative costs.


Understanding the differences between steel and iron is paramount in choosing the optimal material for CNC machining projects. While steel possesses superior strength, wear resistance, and versatility, iron-based alloys like cast iron and ductile iron excel in their own unique applications. With CNC machining technologies continuously advancing, manufacturers have an array of options at their disposal to leverage these materials efficiently, resulting in high-quality components that meet diverse industrial requirements. CNC Milling