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The Man of Steel vs Iron Man

This article looks at the properties of steel and iron and the advantages of using each as a casting material.


A battle between the super metals – which casting material to choose

Like the superheroes themselves, steel and iron both have their good and bad points and it is difficult to conclude that one is better than the other.

One obvious point to make is that iron is a ‘pure metal’/ element, whereas steel is an alloy of iron – a combination of iron and carbon.  However, this has little impact on the discussion of which is better as a casting material.


If you choose ductile iron as a casting material, like Iron Man it is tough, strong and resistant to heat.  It is also very flexible.  It is a common metal for use in piping and automotives.  Although grey cast iron has Iron Man’s impressive wear resistance, it isn’t very strong.  It is versatile though with a low amount of shrinkage, which adds to its appeal as a casting material.  Grey cast iron is often used for castings / parts utilised in the automotive industry.

The difference between ductile iron and grey iron is the graphite arrangement. Ductile iron has a spherical graphite pattern whilst grey iron has a flake like pattern making the ductile iron stronger.
To recap, benefits / powers of Iron / Iron man:

  • Super strong
  • Versatile (Tony Stark possesses an array of technologies)
  • Durable


Steel is flexible and strong like Superman (Man of Steel).  Akin to the superhero himself and his invulnerability and healing powers, steel is anti corrosive.

Carbon steel has varying grades depending on the amount of carbon making up its structure.  The higher the amount of carbon, the more tough and resilient it is.  Carbon steel is ideal for applications that will need a wear resistant material.  These applications include machinery, oil rigs, railways and mining.

Low alloy steel includes additional elements which help to increase toughness.  These additions make low alloy steel superior to carbon steels in a couple of ways.  Low alloy steel has enhanced hardenability and a higher temperature resistance.  In the same way that Superman absorbs solar energy to become stronger, this type of steel strengthens / hardens as it is heated up.

Stainless steel is anti corrosive and resists rust.  It is extremely strong, is easily machined, is durable and has good impact resistance.  It is used in many domestic and commercial applications including the food industry, labs, hospitals and construction.

To recap, benefits / powers of Steel / Superman:

  • Invulnerable / anti corrosive
  • Strong
  • Becomes stronger with heat (hardenability)

As with most things, the choice is mainly down to what your application is.  At Jade Trading, both steel and iron are used to make investment and sand castings up to various weights.

We use the following types of steel and iron in our foundry:

Cast Iron
Ductile Iron
ENI Hard

Low Alloy
Heat Resisting