Structural Steel Shapes and Plates

Steels for structural uses may be classified by chemical composition, tensile properties, and method of manufacture as carbon steels, high-strength low-alloy steels (HSLA), heat-treated carbon steels, and heat-treated constructional alloy steels. A typical stress-strain curve for a steel in each classification is shown in Fig. 1.1 to illustrate the increasing strength levels provided by the four classifications of steel. The availability of this wide range of specified minimum strengths, as well as other material properties, enables the designer to select an economical material that will perform the required function for each application.
Some of the most widely used steels in each classification are listed in Table 1.1 with their specified strengths in shapes and plates. These steels are weldable, but the welding materials and procedures for each steel must be in accordance with approved methods. Welding information for each of the steels is available from most steel producers and in publications of the American Welding Society.

1.1.1 Carbon Steels
A steel may be classified as a carbon steel if (1) the maximum content specified for alloying elements does not exceed the following: manganese 1.65%, silicon 0.60%, copper 0.60%; (2) the specified minimum for copper does not exceed 0.40%; and (3) no minimum content is specified for other elements added to obtain a desired alloying effect.
A36 steel is the principal carbon steel for bridges, buildings, and many other structural uses. This steel provides a minimum yield point of 36 ksi in all structural shapes and in plates up to 8 in thick.
A573, the other carbon steel listed in Table 1.1, is available in three strength grades for plate applications in which improved notch toughness is important.

High-Strength Low-Alloy Steels
Those steels which have specified minimum yield points greater than 40 ksi and achieve that strength in the hot-rolled condition, rather than by heat treatment, are known as HSLA steels.
Because these steels offer increased strength at moderate increases in price over carbon steels, they are economical for a variety of applications.
A242 steel is a weathering steel, used where resistance to atmospheric corrosion is of primary importance. Steels meeting this specification usually provide a resistance to atmospheric corrosion at least four times that of structural carbon steel. However, when required, steels can be selected to provide a resistance to atmospheric corrosion of five to eight times that of structural carbon steels. A specified minimum yield point of 50 ksi can be furnished in plates up to 3⁄4 in thick and the lighter structural shapes. It is available with a lower yield point in thicker sections, as indicated in Table 1.1.
A588 steel is the primary weathering steel for structural work. It provides a 50-ksi yield point in plates up to 4 in thick and in all structural sections; it is available with a lower yield point in thicker plates. Several grades are included in the specification to permit use of various compositions developed by steel producers to obtain the specified properties. This steel provides about four times the resistance to atmospheric corrosion of structural carbon steels.

These relative corrosion ratings are determined from the slopes of corrosion-time curves and are based on carbon steels not containing copper. (The resistance of carbon steel to atmospheric corrosion can be doubled by specifying a minimum copper content of 0.20%.) Typical corrosion curves for several steels exposed to industrial atmosphere are shown in Fig. 1.2. For methods of estimating the atmospheric corrosion resistance of low-alloy steels based on their chemical composition, see ASTM Guide G101. The A588 specification requires that the resistance index calculated according to Guide 101 shall be 6.0 or higher.
A588 and A242 steels are called weathering steels because, when subjected to alternate wetting and drying in most bold atmospheric exposures, they develop a tight oxide layer that substantially inhibits further corrosion. They are often used bare (unpainted) where the oxide finish that develops is desired for aesthetic reasons or for economy in maintenance.
Bridges and exposed building framing are typical examples of such applications. Designers should investigate potential applications thoroughly, however, to determine whether a weathering steel will be suitable. Information on bare-steel applications is available from steel producers.
A572 specifies columbium-vanadium HSLA steels in four grades with minimum yield points of 42, 50, 60, and 65 ksi. Grade 42 in thicknesses up to 6 in and grade 50 in thicknesses up to 4 in are used for welded bridges. All grades may be used for riveted or bolted construction and for welded construction in most applications other than bridges. A992 steel was introduced in 1998 as a new specification for rolled wide flange shapes for building framing. It provides a minimum yield point of 50 ksi, a maximum yield point of 65 ksi, and a maximum yield to tensile ratio of 0.85. These maximum limits are considered desirable attributes for seismic design. To enhance weldability, a maximum carbon equivalent is also included, equal to 0.47% for shape groups 4 and 5 and 0.45% for other groups. A supplemental requirement can be specified for an average Charpy V-notch toughness of 40 ft  lb at 70F.

1.1.3 Heat-Treated Carbon and HSLA Steels
Both carbon and HSLA steels can be heat treated to provide yield points in the range of 50 to 75 ksi. This provides an intermediate strength level between the as-rolled HSLA steels and the heat-treated constructional alloy steels.
A633 is a normalized HSLA plate steel for applications where improved notch toughness is desired. Available in four grades with different chemical compositions, the minimum yield point ranges from 42 to 60 ksi depending on grade and thickness.
A678 includes quenched-and-tempered plate steels (both carbon and HSLA compositions) with excellent notch toughness. It is also available in four grades with different chemical compositions; the minimum yield point ranges from 50 to 75 ksi depending on grade and thickness.
A852 is a quenched-and-tempered HSLA plate steel of the weathering type. It is intended for welded bridges and buildings and similar applications where weight savings, durability,
and good notch toughness are important. It provides a minimum yield point of 70 ksi in thickness up to 4 in. The resistance to atmospheric corrosion is typically four times that of carbon steel.
A913 is a high-strength low-allow steel for structural shapes, produced by the quenching and self-tempering (QST) process. It is intended for the construction of buildings, bridges, and other structures. Four grades provide a minimum yield point of 50 to 70 ksi. Maximum carbon equivalents to enhance weldability are included as follows: Grade 50, 0.38%; Grade 60, 0.40%; Grade 65, 0.43%; and Grade 70, 0.45%. Also, the steel must provide an average Charpy V-notch toughness of 40 ft  lb at 70F.

Heat-Treated Constructional Alloy Steels
Steels that contain alloying elements in excess of the limits for carbon steel and are heat treated to obtain a combination of high strength and toughness are termed constructional alloy steels. Having a yield strength of 100 ksi, these are the strongest steels in general structural use.
A514 includes several grades of quenched and tempered steels, to permit use of various compositions developed by producers to obtain the specified strengths. Maximum thickness ranges from 11⁄4 to 6 in depending on the grade. Minimum yield strength for plate thicknesses over 21⁄2 in is 90 ksi. Steels furnished to this specification can provide a resistance to atmospheric corrosion up to four times that of structural carbon steel depending on the grade.
Constructional alloy steels are also frequently selected because of their ability to resist abrasion. For many types of abrasion, this resistance is related to hardness or tensile strength.
Therefore, constructional alloy steels may have nearly twice the resistance to abrasion provided by carbon steel. Also available are numerous grades that have been heat treated to increase the hardness even .

1.1.5 Bridge Steels
Steels for application in bridges are covered by A709, which includes steel in several of the categories mentioned above. Under this specification, grades 36, 50, 70, and 100 are steels with yield strengths of 36, 50, 70, and 100 ksi, respectively. (See also Table 11.28.) The grade designation is followed by the letter W, indicating whether ordinary or high atmospheric corrosion resistance is required. An additional letter, T or F, indicates that Charpy V-notch impact tests must be conducted on the steel. The T designation indicates that the material is to be used in a non-fracture-critical application as defined by AASHTO;
the F indicates use in a fracture-critical application.
A trailing numeral, 1, 2, or 3, indicates the testing zone, which relates to the lowest ambient temperature expected at the bridge site. (See Table 1.2.) As indicated by the first footnote in the table, the service temperature for each zone is considerably less than the Charpy V-notch impact-test temperature. This accounts for the fact that the dynamic loading rate in the impact test is more severe than that to which the structure is subjected. The toughness requirements depend on fracture criticality, grade, thickness, and method of connection.
A709-HPS70W, designated as a High Performance Steel (HPS), is also now available for highway bridge construction. This is a weathering plate steel, designated HPS because it possesses superior weldability and toughness as compared to conventional steels of similar strength. For example, for welded construction with plates over 21⁄2 in thick, A709-70W must have a minimum average Charpy V-notch toughness of 35 ft  lb at 10F in Zone III, the most severe climate. Toughness values reported for some heats of A709-HPS70W have been much higher, in the range of 120 to 240 ft  lb at 10F. Such extra toughness provides a very high resistance to brittle fracture.
(R. L. Brockenbrough, Sec. 9 in Standard Handbook for Civil Engineers, 4th ed., F. S. Merritt, ed., McGraw-Hill, Inc., New York.)

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