Steel vs. Iron: Understanding the Difference in CNC Machining(spring types Rupert)

  • Time:
  • Click:4
  • source:GAENOR CNC Machining


In the world of manufacturing, CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining plays a crucial role in producing various products with precision and efficiency. When it comes to CNC machining, the choice between steel and iron as raw materials is significant. This article aims to provide an insightful comparison between steel and iron, shedding light on their properties, uses, and advantages in the context of CNC machining.

Understanding Steel and Iron:

Steel is an alloy composed mainly of iron and carbon, along with trace elements such as manganese, chromium, and nickel. Its exceptional strength, durability, and versatility have made it one of the most widely used materials in diverse industries. In terms of CNC machining, steel offers excellent machinability, ensuring smooth operations during the production process.

Iron, on the other hand, is also a vital material commonly used in various applications due to its natural abundance and superior magnetic properties. It can be found in two main forms: cast iron and wrought iron. Cast iron contains a higher carbon content than steel, making it more brittle but structurally strong. Wrought iron, although less common today, possesses better ductility and malleability compared to its counterpart.

CNC Machining Applications:

Steel in CNC Machining:
Steel's high tensile strength, coupled with its resistance to wear and heat, makes it an ideal material for several CNC machining applications. From automotive parts to aerospace components, steel provides an enhanced level of reliability and longevity. Products like gears, shafts, brackets, and even intricate surgical instruments heavily rely on steel's attributes in the CNC machining process.

Iron in CNC Machining:
While iron may not be as sought after as steel in modern CNC machining, it still finds application in specific areas. Cast iron's ability to absorb vibrations effectively makes it suitable for machine tool bases and structures that require stability. Additionally, iron's magnetic properties make it an attractive material for applications like electromagnets and cores in transformers.

Comparing Steel and Iron in CNC Machining:

Steel boasts superior machinability when compared to iron. Its controlled carbon content enables efficient chip formation during the CNC machining process, resulting in reduced tool wear and enhanced surface finishes. Iron, particularly cast iron, tends to be more challenging to machine due to its brittleness and propensity for thermal expansion.

Strength and Durability:
When it comes to strength and durability, steel outperforms iron. The inherent properties of steel, such as high tensile strength and resistance to corrosion and impact, ensure longevity even under extreme conditions. Iron, while still durable, may not provide the same level of structural integrity as steel in demanding CNC machining applications.

Steel's versatility is unmatched in the world of manufacturing. It can be easily tailored to specific requirements by alloying different elements, allowing engineers to select specialized steels suited for their intended applications. Conversely, iron's scope of application, primarily in cast form, is more limited due to its relatively higher brittleness and lower ductility.

Cost Considerations:
Iron is generally less expensive than steel, mainly due to steel's additional alloying and refining processes. However, cost alone should not be the sole deciding factor when selecting a raw material for CNC machining. The benefits offered by steel in terms of machinability, strength, and overall performance often outweigh the cost difference.


In summary, both steel and iron hold significance in CNC machining, catering to different needs based on their characteristics, strengths, and limitations. Steel offers exceptional machinability, strength, durability, and versatility across various industries. On the other hand, cast iron's stability and magnetic properties make it suitable for unique applications where vibration damping or electromagnetic interaction is crucial.

When considering a CNC machining project, careful evaluation of the specific requirements, including mechanical properties, intended use, and cost constraints, is necessary to make an informed decision on whether steel or iron will be the ideal choice. Collaborating with experienced CNC machining professionals can provide valuable insights in selecting the most suitable material, ensuring optimal results for the manufacturing process.

In conclusion, despite their differences, both steel and iron continue to play vital roles in modern CNC machining, contributing to the production of high-quality components across numerous industries. CNC Milling CNC Machining