They may sound alike and share some characteristics, but stainless steel and carbon steel are completely different materials. Knowing the strengths of each will help you figure out which ones to use for your pipe fittings.
Both are alloys, which is a metal made from the combination of other metals. The components contribute their best characteristics to the alloy.
Stainless steel is a combination of at least 10.5 per cent chromium (by mass) and iron. It can also contain traces of other metals, such as manganese. There are different types and grades of stainless steel based on the chromium they contain, microstructures, and finishes, among others. These include hot and cold rolled and satin and reflective finishes, as well as coarse abrasive finish.
Carbon steel, on the other hand, contains no more than 2.1 per cent carbon (by weight). Like stainless steel, it can also possess other metals including cobalt, tungsten, zinc, and even copper. But for it to be considered carbon steel, it can only contain a limited percentage of these other metals.
Both are more durable than the other metals or alloys, but carbon steel is much stronger than the stainless steel variant. Stainless steel has the advantage of being able to resist corrosion, however. Moreover, the more carbon the steel has, the lesser ductility it possesses.
So, which is best for your pipeworks project?
The hardness of the carbon steel pipe fittings makes it ideal for manufacturing projects, such as automation. Furthermore, the manufacturers don’t need to buy thick steel in order to achieve the desired strength. Some are also manufactured to withstand extreme temperature conditions.
Some manufacturers add stainless steel for aesthetic purposes. Moreover, it is a preferred material in construction because of its bendability.
Which one should you choose? It all depends on the purpose. Define it first and use the information above to make the best judgement.