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What is Abrasion-Resistant Steel Plate?
Abrasion-resistant (AR) steel plate is a high-carbon alloy steel plate, which signifies that AR is formable and weather-resistant due to the added alloys, and harder due to the addition of carbon.
Carbon is added during the formation of steel plate which considerably increases hardness and toughness, but reduces strength. Hence, the AR plate is employed in conditions where wear and tear and abrasions are the main causes of failure. The AR plate is not perfect for structural construction applications, like support beams in buildings or bridges.
Common applications of the AR plate include dump liners, grates, buckets, construction attachments, conveyors, body armor, and ballistic plates (and as targets at shooting ranges).
AR400 vs AR450 vs AR500 vs AR600
Before this article dives into the difference between these common types of AR steel, it is significant to explain that AR steels are not controlled by a particular chemistry, but by a level of hardness.
A variety of mills may have different “recipes” for AR steel, but the produced material is subjected to a hardness test — called the Brinell Test — for determining the class in which it falls.
The Brinell Hardness Number (BHN) is the technical difference between AR400, AR450, and AR500. BHN signifies the hardness level of the material:
AR400: 360-440 BHN Typically
AR450: 430-480 BHN Typically
AR500: 460-544 BHN Typically
AR600: 570-625 BHN Typically (less common, but available)
Therefore, what does this mean in terms of usability? How do you know which level of hardness the project requires?
Projects that need AR materials are usually those that require a precise balance between brittleness and hardness. As hardness is increased, brittleness is also increased, making the material hard to form, weld, and shape. For some projects, hardness is crucial, and therefore brittleness is compromised; however, in other cases, the material should be formed and handled, so the level of hardness should be decreased.
As a general rule, AR450 and AR400 are the “sweet spots” in terms of good formability combined with good hardness. AR500 and AR600 will last longer and need to be replaced less often for projects that actually beat up the material.
Eventually, the customers and their team will be the best judge of which material is required for their project. Obviously, cost becomes an important factor, as sometimes it is worth having a formable material that has to be changed more frequently.