Forged Steel Grades: 5 Keys to Selecting the Right Grade

Iron and carbon. Combining these two materials makes basic steel and the amount of carbon used in the forging process determines the grade. So it should be simple to select the right grade of steel right? 

Not exactly. That’s because there are more than 3,500 different grades of steel based on a wide range of alloy combinations and forging methods. At Steel Industries, our expert engineers can find the right steel grade for every job. To find the best one, it’s important to consider the following key points: 

Environment and Application 

Where and what the steel is used for is at the top of the list when it comes to selecting the grade. High temperature, corrosive conditions, frequency of impact, and even pH levels are just a few of the areas that need to be considered. Understanding how different grades perform under various stresses is critical to making the right grade choice.

Tensile strength

Tensile strength is measured by the maximum stress that steel can withstand while being stretched or pulled before breaking. For example, in the automotive industry, the tensile strength of engine components is higher than the steel used for the hood. The proper tensile strength ensures that products are flexible and durable enough to handle their intended use. It’s a critical factor because using steel that’s too weak or brittle for a specific application creates serious dependability and safety issues.


Does the steel need to be machined, welded, formed into difficult shapes or heat-treated? The machinability of steel is dependent on its composition, or mechanical properties, and the method used to cut or form it.  Strength, toughness, and ductility are the most important mechanical qualities to consider when selecting the optimal steel grade. While the first two terms a self-explanatory, ductility indicates how malleable the material is. This determines the machinability of a particular grade and how it holds up during the forging process. 

Material costs

High-grade steel is expensive, but like many other products on the market, you get what you pay for. Products made from high-grade steel don’t need as much maintenance and are sturdier so they have fewer performance issues. This means higher grades save money in the long run. Cheaper grades may work in the short term, but based on the wear and tear steel components need to handle they aren’t an advisable option for most jobs.


Whether it’s aircraft landing gear, components for the oil and gas industry, or gears and spindles, heat treatment is used to strengthen the structure of steel through a heating and cooling process. It provides the hardness and ductility needed to make the product perform well. The key is to select the correct grade so that after the steel is heat-treated it’s ready for the specific type of machining, forming, welding, or whatever the industry requirements demand.


Steel Industries’ engineers can help you select the proper grade of steel for any industry application. We pride ourselves in combining all the steel grades we forge with the most effective alloy compositions to provide peak performance. Ready to discuss what forged steel grade is best for your next project? Let’s talk.

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