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4/9/2017 Metal and Steel Classification - ASTM, AISI, SAE, ISO and other codes

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Metal Classification - Deciphering the Codes Metals Menu

Visually Identifying
Common Metals Job Search
For the many different metals and alloys sold today, nearly as many
classification systems exist to keep all the standards straight within the Metal Classifications Welding to Code
industry. Students and apprentices should become familar with at least a
couple of them early on in their training. Generally, welders refer to three Standard Stock Items How-To Guides
key bodies when it comes to the numbers - the American Iron and Steel & Videos
Institute (AISI), which classifies steels; the Society of Automobile Steel Framing
Engineers (SAE), which classifies all metals used on motor vehicles; and Schools & Training
the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), which oversees Pipeline Construction
codes that pertain to pressure vessels, fittings and pipe. Organizations &
Metalworking Skills
The American Petroleum Institute (API) maintains some 500 standards of
its own. These cover the oil and gas industry. Meanwhile, the American Main Menu
Tips & Advice
Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has compiled some 12,000-plus
codes for various metal products. On aluminum stock, you may see News & Reports
labeling from the Aluminum Association (AA). Finally, the U.S. Military
(MIL) and some federal government agencies have their own codes. For Equipment &
an example of how different classifications line up against each other, Supplies
here's a crossreferenee chart.
Steel & Pipe


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Naturally, there's a body set up to oversee all these "standards developing

organizations". It's known as the American National Standards Institute
(ANSI). On the global front, there's the International Organization for
Standardization (ISO), which attempts to consolidate various national Resources/Docs
stock codes worldwide. In the 1970's, a "Unified Numbering System for
Metals and Alloys" (UNS) was jointly put into play by ASTM and SAE. Metal Classification Guide
Long story short - Be prepared to see this alphabet soup on the labels of
any new metal stock you weld on, both in the shop and out in the field. Understanding Carbon
(The American Welding Society, incidentally, classifies filler rods and stick Content and Alloys in Steel
electrodes used by welders, but not the base metals themselves. See
Consumeables for info.)
Common Carbon Steels,
Carbon and Alloyed Steels Their Uses and
Classification Numbers
Most ironworkers are aquainted with carbon steel, since tons of this Coburn Myers
material go into building bridges, high-rises and pipelines each year. This
steel begins as iron oxide in rocks like hematite and magnetite, and Five Categories of Stainless
during its processing carbon gets added to create the material we know Steels Industrial Heating
as steel. In particular, "cold-rolled" steel labeled A36 comes in all shapes Magazine
and sizes of girders, so you're likely to come across it on any largescale
project. (Cold-rolled means that the stock is shaped at room temperature.) Welding Stainless Steel
Once installed on a construction site, (and often even before that), this (PDF)
framing usually has to be welded together. In manufacturing, both cold- Stainless Steel Info Center
rolled and hot-rolled steel are used in a variety of alloys. An alloy is
Commonly Used Stainless
defined as a separate element or compound added to the base metal, like
Steels and Their
nickel or chromium. 1/7
4/9/2017 Metal and Steel Classification - ASTM, AISI, SAE, ISO and other codes
Classfication Numbers
National Supply Source

Most Popular Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel Info Center

SAE Steel and Stainless

Steel Classifications

Unified Numbering System

Steel framing classifications mostly come from ASTM. The code starts for Metals and Alloys
with the letter A, followed by a number ranging anywhere from 1 to 1000.
There's a complete listing of the various specifications at the ASTM
website, but here's a sampling for common stock used in construction. Steelmaking Process
U.S. Steel
A36/A36M-08 Carbon Structural Steel
Sheet Metal Glossary
A53/A53M-10 Pipe, Steel, Black and Hot-Dipped, Zinc-Coated Welded/ U.S. Steel
Metalworking Terms
A242/A242M-04(R2009) High-Strength Low-Alloy Structural Steel Engineers Edge

A283/A283M-03(R2007) Low/Intermediate Tensile Strength Carbon Steel Geometry Calculations

Plates Engineers Edge

A307-10 Carbon Steel Bolts and Studs, 60,000 psi Tensile Strength 2010 Specification for
Structural Steel Buildings
A500/A500M-10 Cold Formed Welded and Seamless Carbon Steel (ANSI/AISI 360-10) AISI
Structural Tubing in Rounds and Shapes
Stock List (PDF)
A501-07 Hot-Formed Welded and Seamless Carbon Steel Structural Alaskan Copper & Brass
Steel Products Catalog
A992/A992M-06 Structural Steel Shapes (PDF)
Steel & Tube
Another well-used classfication system you'll come across is the SAE-
AISI code for steel. The xx in the table below represents the carbon Metal Products - General
content of the metal in hundredths of a percent. The first digit in the Descriptions, Uses and
number represents the other alloy (if any) added to the steel. The second Number Classifications
digit indicates either the percentage of that alloy, or more alloy additives.

Common Aluminum Grades

Universal Stainless

Aluminum Number
Classification System

American Iron and Steel

Institute (AISI)

Society of Automobile
Engineers (SAE)

Aluminum Association (AA)

American Society for

Testing and Materials

International Organization
for Standardization (ISO) 2/7
4/9/2017 Metal and Steel Classification - ASTM, AISI, SAE, ISO and other codes
You can read a layman's description of the different alloying elements
(nickel, phosphorus, manganese, etc.) on the website of Metallurgical

Stainless Steels
The roster of stainless steel classifications is vast. Fortunately, this metal
is easily distinguished from the others, because three-digit numbers are
used instead of four. Most fall in the 200, 300, 400, 500 and 600 series.

As discussed in Visually Identifying Common Metals. stainless steel is

manufactured in different ways to achieve specific properties. The main
categories are Austenitic, Martensitic, Ferritic, Precipitation Hardening
and Duplex.
COP $147.300
Stainless steels may also be idenfitied by their chromium/nickel
percentages. You see designations like 18-8, 15-5, 17-7, etc. The first
number indicates the percentage of chromium added to the steel, the
second number the percent nickel.

For welders, the most common stainless steel filler rod you'll see is 304L,
used on austenitic grades. The L stands for low carbon, which provides
greater corrosion resistance. For more on stainless steel filler rods, see
TIG Welding Rods. COP $156.000

SAE Stainless Steels

200 Seriesaustenitic chromium-nickel-manganese alloys

201austenitic; hardenable through cold working

202austenitic; general purpose stainless steel COP $125.900

300 Seriesaustenitic chromium-nickel alloys

301highly ductile, for formed products. Also hardens rapidly during

mechanical working. Good weldability. Better wear resistance and fatigue
strength than 304.
302same corrosion resistance as 304, with slightly higher strength due
to additional carbon.
303easier machining version of 304 via addition of sulfur and
phosphorus. Also referred to as "A1" in accordance with ISO 3506.
304the most common grade; the classic 18/8 stainless steel. Also
referred to as "A2" in accordance with ISO 3506.
304Lextra low carbon version of 304 used extensively in welding.
309offers better temperature resistance than 304
316the second most common grade (after 304); for food and surgical
stainless steel uses; alloy addition of molybdenum prevents specific forms
of corrosion. 316 steel is used in the manufacture and handling of food
and pharmaceutical products where it is often required in order to
minimize metallic contamination. It is also known as marine grade
stainless steel due to its increased resistance to chloride corrosion
compared to type 304. SS316 is often used for building nuclear
reprocessing plants.
Most stainless steel watches are made of this. Also referred to as "A4" in
accordance with ISO 3506. 316Ti (which includes titanium for heat
resistance) is used in flexible chimney liners, and is able to withstand
temperatures up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, the hottest possible
temperature of a chimney fire.
316Lextra low carbon version of 316.
317Alloy 317LMN and 317L are molybdenum-bearing austenitic stainless
steels with greatly increased resistance to chemical attack as compared to
the conventional chromium-nickel austenitic stainless steels such as Alloy
304. In addition, 317LMN and 317L alloys offer higher creep, stress-to-
rupture, and tensile strengths at elevated temperatures than conventional
stainless steels. All are low carbon or "L" grades to provide resistance to
sensitization during welding and other thermal processes. The "M" and
"N" designations indicate that the compositions contain increased levels of
molybdenum and nitrogen respectively. The combination of molybdenum
and nitrogen is particularly effective in enhancing resistance to pitting and
crevice corrosion, especially in process streams containing acids,
chlorides, and sulfur compounds at elevated temperatures. Nitrogen also
serves to increase the strength of these alloys. Both alloys are intended
for severe service conditions such as flue gas desulfurization (FGD)
systems. 3/7
4/9/2017 Metal and Steel Classification - ASTM, AISI, SAE, ISO and other codes
321similar to 304 but lower risk of weld decay due to addition of

400 Seriesferritic and martensitic chromium alloys

405a ferritic especially made for welding applications

408heat-resistant; poor corrosion resistance; 11% chromium, 8% nickel.
409cheapest type; used for automobile exhausts; ferritic
(iron/chromium only).
410martensitic (high-strength iron/chromium). Wear-resistant, but less
corrosion-resistant. Big Deals
416easy to machine due to additional sulfur
420Cutlery-grade martensitic; similar to the Brearley's original rustless
steel. Excellent polishability.
430decorative, used for automotive trim; ferritic. Good formability, but
with reduced temperature and corrosion resistance.
440a higher grade of cutlery steel, with more carbon in it, which allows
for much better edge retention when the steel is heat-treated properly. It
can be hardened to around Rockwell 58 hardness, making it one of the
hardest stainless steels. Due to its toughness and relatively low cost, most Best Prices on
display-only and replica swords or knives are made of 440 stainless. Also
known as razor blade steel. Available in four grades: 440A, 440B, 440C, Standard
and the uncommon 440F (free machinable). 440A, having the least Vacuum
amount of carbon in it, is the most stain-resistant; 440C, having the most, Furnaces and
is the strongest and is usually considered a more desirable choice in
knifemaking than 440A except for diving or other salt-water applications. on Unlimited
446For elevated temperature service. Customized
500 Seriesheat-resisting chromium alloys

600 Seriesmartensitic precipitation hardening alloys

601 through 604: Martensitic low-alloy steels.

610 through 613: Martensitic secondary hardening steels.
614 through 619: Martensitic chromium steels.
630 through 635: Semiaustenitic and martensitic precipitation-hardening
stainless steels. Type 630 is most common precipitation-hardening
stainless, better known as 17-4; 17% chromium, 4% nickel.
650 through 653: Austenitic steels strengthened by hot/cold work.
660 through 665: Austenitic superalloys; all grades except alloy 661 are
strengthened by second-phase precipitation.

15-5 Stainless Steel

Also known as a PH, or precipitation-hardening, grade of stainless, this

alloy is used a great deal in the aircraft industry in part due to its strength,
and also because there are a wide range of heat treatments to choose
from to reach a specified hardness or other properties.

17-4 Stainless Steel

Also known as a PH, or precipitation-hardening, grade of stainless, this

alloy is used a great deal in the aircraft industry in part due to its strength,
and also because there are a wide range of heat treatments to choose
from to reach a specified hardness or other properties. This alloy is very
similar to 15-5 except that 17-4 tends to have more ferrite, and is slightly
more magnetic.

17-7 Stainless Steel

Also known as a PH, or precipitation-hardening, grade of stainless, this

alloy is used a great deal in the aircraft industry in part due to its strength,
and also because there are a wide range of heat treatments to choose
from to reach a specified hardness or other properties. 17-7 has
exceptionally high strength and hardness, as well as the corrosion
resistance normally associated with stainless. It is one of the more
formable of the PH grades.

- - - - - - - - - - - -- - --- - - - -

Information adapted from 4/7
4/9/2017 Metal and Steel Classification - ASTM, AISI, SAE, ISO and other codes

Aluminum stock is classified with four-digit numbers, just like steel.
The different series (e.g. 1000, 2000, etc.) are divided according to
each alloy added to the aluminum. Like carbon steel, the 1000 series
are the unalloyed form of the metal. However, you'll notice that the
numbering protocol for aluminum then assigns one series per alloy.
(In steel, multiple alloys may show up in one series.)

In the 1000 series of aluminum, the last 2 digits provide the minimum
aluminum percentage above 99%. For example the classification 1325
translates 99.50% minimum aluminum. In all other cases, the three
digits after the first number may signify either different properties or
other additives to the metal. (This will make more sense as you peruse
the designations below.) For a good discussion of the different alloys
and their use, plus more coding specifications, see the tutorial at

Here's the general rundown:

1xxx Aluminum (99% pure aluminum)

Ductile, corrosion resistant, weldable but non-heat treatable. These

alloys are selected primarily for their superior corrosion resistance
such as in specialized chemical tanks and piping, or for their excellent
electrical conductivity as in bus bar applications. However, they have
poor mechanical properties and would seldom be considered for
general structural applications. These base alloys are often welded
with matching filler material or with 4xxx filler alloys.

2xxx Aluminum - Copper alloys

This is the most common heat treatable alloy. Aluminum-copper alloys

respond to solution heat treatment. Subsequent aging will increase
strength and hardness while decreasing elongation. These metals are
often welded with high strength 2xxx series filler alloys, but can
sometimes be welded with the 4xxx series fillers containing silicon or
silicon and copper, dependent on the application and service

3xxx Aluminum - Manganese alloys

Manganese increases strength either in solid solution or as a finely

precipitated inter-metallic phase. It has no adverse effect on corrosion

4xxx Aluminum - Silicon alloys

Predominantly used as filler material. While silicon is non-heat

treatable, a number of these alloys have been designed to have
additions of magnesium or copper, which provides them with the
ability to respond favorably to solution heat treatment. Typically, these
heat treatable filler alloys are used when a welded component is to be
subjected to post weld thermal treatments.

5xxx Aluminum - Magnesium alloys

Aluminum-magnesium alloys are not heat-treatable, and may be

strengthened by cold work (strain hardening). Effectiveness of cold
work hardening increases when magnesium content is increased. The
magnesium base alloys are often welded with filler alloys, which are
selected after consideration of the magnesium content of the base
material, and the application and service conditions of the welded
component. Base alloys with less than approximately 2.5%
magnesium are often welded successfully with the 5xxx or 4xxx series
filler alloys. 5/7
4/9/2017 Metal and Steel Classification - ASTM, AISI, SAE, ISO and other codes
6xxx Aluminum - Magnesium and Silicon alloys

Found widely throughout the welding fabrication industry, and

incorporated in many structural components. These alloys are
naturally solidification crack sensitive, and should not be arc welded
autogenously (without filler material). The addition of adequate
amounts of filler material during the arc welding process is essential
in order to provide dilution of the base material, thereby preventing
the hot cracking problem. The 4xxx and 5xxx filler materials are most
often used.

7xxx Aluminum - Zinc alloys

hese alloys are often used in high performance applications such as

aircraft, aerospace, and competitive sporting equipment. Like the 2xxx
series of alloys, this series incorporates alloys which are considered
unsuitable candidates for arc welding, and others, which are often arc
welded successfully. The commonly welded alloys in this series, such
as 7005, are predominantly welded with the 5xxx series filler alloys.

8xxx Aluminum - Other Aluminum alloys

Aluminum-lithium alloys were developed for reducing weight in

aircraft and aerospace structures. They are heat-treatable.

Unified Numbering System

As mentioned above, the"Unified Numbering System for Metals and
Alloys"(UNS) was developed by ASTM and SAE in an effort to clear up
the alphabet soup problem. To date, it hasn't exactly caught on like
wildfire in industry, but over time you may see more of it. These codes
begin with "UNS", followed by a letter and 5-digit number. A UNS
number can't totally replace other codes, however, since it doesn't
provide complete information about the metal's properties.

Here are the codes for some of the more common metals:

UNS Series:

A00001 to A99999 Aluminum and aluminum alloys

C00001 to C99999 Copper and copper alloys
D00001 to D99999 Specified mechanical property steels
E00001 to E99999 Rare earth and rare earthlike metals and alloys
F00001 to F99999 Cast irons
G00001 to G99999 AISI and SAE carbon and alloy steels (except tool
H00001 to H99999 AISI and SAE H-steels

See the complete list.


Next: Standard Metal Stock Items


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