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Alloy of iron and carbon in which the carbon content may range from less than 0.015% to slightly more than 2%. Adding this tiny amount of carbon produces a material that exhibits great strength, hardness, and other valuable mechanical properties. Carbon steels account for about 90% of the world's steel production. They are used extensively for automobile bodies, appliances, machinery, ships, containers, and the structures of buildings. Carbon steel, formerly made by the Bessemer, crucible, or open-hearth process, is now made by the basic oxygen process, or by an arc furnace.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on carbon steel, visit Britannica.com.