What is ASTM A588 Corten Steel?

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What is ASTM A588 Corten Steel?

ASTM A588 Corten Steel

ASTM A588 steel, also known as Corten® steel, is highly regarded for its exceptional corrosion resistance. It develops a protective rust-like surface that eliminates the need for additional coatings, reducing maintenance costs.

This weathering steel contains elements like copper, chromium, nickel, and others, which contribute to its ability to withstand weathering. It is highly durable and offers significant strength, making it ideal for architectural and structural applications such as bridges, buildings, and outdoor structures.

The ASTM A588 specification is designed specifically to provide superior resistance to atmospheric corrosion, ensuring its suitability for outdoor use where exposure to the elements is a concern.

A key feature of ASTM A588 steel is its natural formation of a protective rust layer when exposed to the atmosphere. This process creates a barrier against further corrosion, enhancing its longevity without needing additional protective coatings. The weathered appearance of ASTM A588 steel is often appreciated for its aesthetic appeal, commonly used in architectural projects.

ASTM A588 steel has a minimum yield strength of 50 ksi and a minimum tensile strength of 70 ksi. However, it’s important to note that weathering steels like ASTM A588 are not suitable for use in load-bearing members under significant stress above 450 degrees Celsius.

Overall, ASTM A588 weathering steel is widely favored in construction for its outstanding corrosion resistance, strong structural properties, and suitability for outdoor applications exposed to harsh environmental conditions.

Key Features and Benefits of ASTM A588 Corten Steel

ASTM A588 steel benefits from the addition of copper and other elements, enhancing its ability to develop a protective rust-like surface when exposed to the elements. This natural patina acts as a barrier, preventing further corrosion and eliminating the need for extra coatings. As a result, structures made with ASTM A588 steel exhibit high resistance to atmospheric corrosion, even in challenging environments.

The atmospheric corrosion resistance of ASTM A588 steel is significantly better than that of carbon steels such as A36 and A572-50, with or without copper addition. When designed properly and exposed to the atmosphere, A588 is suitable for many applications without paint.

  • High Strength and Durability: ASTM A588 weathering steel boasts high tensile strength, enabling it to withstand heavy loads and stresses. Its exceptional toughness and resistance to impact make it well-suited for structures subjected to dynamic forces, including bridges, buildings, and construction equipment. With regular upkeep, ASTM A588 structures can enjoy a long service life.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Beyond its functional advantages, ASTM A588 steel offers an attractive weathered appearance. The rust-like surface, characterized by warm hues and a textured finish, enhances the character and depth of architectural designs. This distinctive aesthetic has contributed to its widespread use in art installations, outdoor sculptures, and various ornamental applications.

ASTM A588 Chemical Composition

ElementsComposition, %
Grade AGrade BGrade K
CarbonA0.19 max0.20 max0.17 max
Phosphorus0.04 max0.04 max0.04 max
Sulfur0.05 max0.05 max0.05 max
Nickel0.40 max0.50 max0.40 max
Molybdenum0.10 max

ASTM A588 Steel Mechanical Properties

 Plates and BarsStructural Shapes
For Thicknesses 4 in. [100 mm] and UnderFor Thicknesses Over 4 in. [100 mm] to 5 in. [125 mm] inclFor Thicknesses Over 5 in. [125 mm] to 8 in.[200 mm] inclAll
Tensile strength, min,ksi [MPa]70 [485]67 [460]63 [435]70 [485]
Yield point, min, ksi [MPa]50 [345]46 [315]42 [290]50 [345]
Elongation in 8 in. [200 mm], min, %18B,C18C
Elongation in 2 in. [50 mm], min, %21B,C21B,C21B,C21D

ASTM A588 Steel Applications

Bridges: ASTM A588 weathering steel is widely chosen for bridge construction due to its strong tensile strength, resistance to corrosion, and cost-efficiency. It is particularly beneficial for bridges exposed to saltwater, coastal regions, or industrial environments, minimizing maintenance requirements and ensuring long-term structural integrity.

Buildings and Facades: From skyscrapers to residential structures, ASTM A588 is utilized in building facades, curtain walls, and roofing systems. Its distinctive appearance enhances architectural designs while providing robust protection against weathering and corrosion.

Outdoor Structures: ASTM A588 is commonly employed in outdoor structures such as stadiums, pavilions, and open-air theaters. These applications demand materials capable of enduring diverse weather conditions without compromising safety or aesthetics. ASTM A588’s resilience in harsh environments makes it an ideal choice for such projects.

Construction Equipment: Heavy machinery and construction equipment face rigorous conditions, including exposure to corrosive substances and severe weather. ASTM A588’s corrosion resistance and high strength make it a dependable material for components like buckets, loader arms, and chassis, ensuring durability and optimal performance of the equipment.

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