Comparing the Strength and Applications of Cast Steel and Cast Iron in CNC Machining( friction fit Murray)

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In the world of CNC machining, different materials play a crucial role in determining the quality, durability, and performance of various products. When it comes to metal fabrication, cast steel and cast iron are two widely-used materials due to their distinct properties. In this article, we will explore the differences between these materials and delve into their manufacturing processes, strength characteristics, and applications.

1. Understanding Cast Steel:

Cast steel is a general term that encompasses various alloys consisting primarily of iron with carbon content typically ranging from 0.2% to 2%. The addition of other elements like manganese, silicon, or chromium enhances specific properties such as hardness, corrosion resistance, toughness, and heat resistance.

Manufacturing Process:
The production of cast steel involves melting scrap steel along with necessary alloying agents in an electric arc furnace. Once melted, the molten metal is poured into molds and allowed to cool and solidify. This casting method provides versatility in shaping intricate geometries while maintaining the desired mechanical properties.

Strength and Properties:
Cast steel is known for its high tensile strength, making it ideal for applications requiring substantial load-bearing capability. Its malleability allows for easier machining and welding compared to cast iron. With excellent impact resistance, cast steel can withstand heavy shocks and vibrations without failure, making it suitable for demanding environments.

Due to its combination of strength and ductility, cast steel finds application in parts subject to great stress, such as gears, crankshafts, hydraulic cylinders, and automotive components. It is also commonly used in construction machinery, power transmission systems, and even aerospace industry due to its reliable performance under extreme conditions.

2. Exploring Cast Iron:

Cast iron is a group of iron-carbon alloys characterized by a carbon content exceeding 2%, which creates a microstructure of graphite flakes within the iron matrix. This unique structure imparts certain advantages and limitations to cast iron components.

Manufacturing Process:
The production of cast iron involves melting iron along with varying amounts of scrap steel, pig iron, and carbon in a cupola furnace or an electric induction furnace. The molten metal is then poured into molds, where it cools and solidifies. Cast iron can be manufactured in different grades depending on the desired characteristics.

Strength and Properties:
Cast iron possesses excellent compressive strength while lacking ductility, which means it cannot be easily deformed without cracking or breaking. Though not as strong in tension as cast steel, it excels at handling compression forces. It also exhibits good wear resistance, making it suitable for applications involving abrasive environments.

Due to its high heat retention capacity, cast iron is often used in products like engine blocks, brake rotors, and stove parts that require efficient thermal conductivity. It is also highly valued for its damping properties, effectively reducing vibrations and noise in machinery. Additionally, cast iron is commonly employed in architectural elements, pipes, and cookware due to its durability and aesthetic appeal.

Comparing Strength Between Iron and Steel:

When considering the strength aspect between cast iron and cast steel, it's important to note that their mechanical properties differ significantly due to variations in composition and microstructure. While cast steel offers greater tensile strength, cast iron offers exceptional compressive strength.

Cast steel's inherent toughness makes it ideal for applications subject to heavy loads or impact forces. On the other hand, cast iron's rigidity and ability to handle compression forces well suit structures requiring stability and robustness.


In CNC machining, choosing between cast steel and cast iron depends on the specific requirements of the product and application. Both materials possess distinct strengths and have been widely used across various industries. Cast steel provides superior tensile strength and impact resistance, whereas cast iron offers excellent compressive strength and high heat retention properties. Understanding the differences between these materials empowers manufacturers to make informed decisions regarding material selection for CNC machining projects, ensuring optimal performance and longevity of the final product. CNC Milling