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Silicon Steel

Silicon Steel Product Guide

Silicon steel is a kind of steel that consists of iron mixed with up to 3.2% silicon by weight. Silicon increases steel’s magnetic conductivity and electrical resistance (the opposite would be electrical conductivity). With this, the electrical resistance in irons may be increased by up to five times when silicon is added. This alteration reduces the eddy current losses of the alloy, which has an effect that is immediately felt in the magnetic core.

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Silicon steel, an essential soft magnetic material, has established itself as a key player in contemporary industrial applications. Ranging from small-scale operations in relays and pulse transformers to large-scale use in generators, motors, and transformers, silicon steel continues to grow in importance. Its adoption has been driven by the need for more efficient energy use and the miniaturization of powerful equipment.

Silicon Steel: An Evolutionary Journey

The initial soft magnetic material, iron, came with its share of impurities. However, upon the discovery of silicon’s addition, there was a marked improvement in resistivity, reduction in hysteresis loss, an increase in permeability, and a near-total elimination of aging. Today, we see large quantities of oriented silicon steel primarily in power and distribution transformers. But that doesn’t make non-oriented silicon steel any less important. Non-oriented silicon steel finds its extensive use where low-cost, low-loss material is indispensable, especially in rotating equipment.

Key Properties of Silicon Steels

1. Resistivity

In comparison to iron, silicon steel shows a significant increase in resistivity. This increase reduces core loss by minimizing the eddy current component, hence improving energy efficiency.

2. Saturation Induction

The degree to which silicon steel can be magnetized, or its saturation induction, is another vital property. The higher the silicon content, the lower the saturation induction. It’s a balancing act between maintaining high resistivity and ensuring adequate saturation induction.

3. Magneto-crystalline Anisotropy and Magnetostriction

These properties influence how the material behaves under the influence of magnetic fields and mechanical stress, respectively. While increasing silicon content lowers magnetostriction, the processing becomes more challenging.

4. Curie Temperature

The Curie temperature, which is quite high for iron, can be reduced by alloying elements. However, the decrease doesn’t significantly impact silicon steel users.

Cold-rolled-non-grain-oriented steel (CRNGO)

There is no particular pressing used to adjust the crystal orientation of this silicon steel product (this is the overall texture of the material). An isotropic material is produced from this jumble of unoriented grain (where magnetic properties are omnidirectional). This is the more cost-effective choice, and it is used in circumstances in which cost is prioritized above efficiency and in which the magnetic flux does not need to be kept constant. CRNGO is often found in electric motors and generators that have moving components.

Non-oriented silicon steels don’t require a secondary recrystallization process for their property development, nor is a high-temperature anneal necessary. Hence, the lower limit on silicon is not essential. Non-oriented silicon steels contain between 0.5 and 3.25% Si plus up to 0.5% Al. This addition increases resistivity and lowers the temperature of primary recrystallization.

Non-oriented silicon steels find usage in large rotating equipment, including motors, power generators, and AC alternators. These steels can come in two conditions: fully-processed or semi-processed.

Cold-rolled-grain-oriented steel (CRGO)

The magnetic flux in this silicon steel is steady and directed to the processing. The rolling procedure gave it a highly ordered crystal structure, which can be seen in its appearance. Cold-rolled strips with a thickness of less than 2mm are made from CRGO, which is provided in coil form. First, the coil is rolled out, and then it is cut into the desired shape. This process is repeated for both grain-oriented and non-grain-oriented laminated sheets. This is the motivation for the need of its workability.

The manufacturing of oriented silicon steel requires a more controlled composition and more sophisticated processing. The final texture development process includes a series of careful working and annealing operations, ensuring that the material stays essentially single-phase, particularly during the final anneal. This is because phase transformation destroys the texture.

The silicon content in today’s commercial steel is about 3.25%. Although having more silicon might be favorable due to increased resistivity and lower magnetostriction, this leads to complications in cold rolling.

Applications of Oriented Silicon Steel

Oriented silicon steel is utilized in a variety of transformers and generators. For transformers, factors like economic considerations, transformer rating, noise level requirement, loss requirements, operating density, and core size all play a role in determining the material grade and gauge. As for generators, the steel is used in both steam turbines and water wheels.

Five Tips for Choosing the Right Silicon Steel for Your Application

1. Understand Your Application Requirements

Different applications require different properties. For example, transformers need oriented silicon steel, while rotating machinery might benefit more from non-oriented silicon steel.

2. Consider the Cost

Oriented silicon steel tends to be more expensive than its non-oriented counterpart due to the additional processing steps.

3. Factor in Efficiency

Higher silicon content improves efficiency by reducing energy loss. However, too much silicon can make the steel harder to work with.

4. Think About Size

Large components might be better suited to non-oriented silicon steel, which is less sensitive to mechanical strain.

5. Remember the Environment

The operating environment could influence your choice. For instance, silicon steel with higher Curie temperatures may perform better in high-temperature applications.


In conclusion, silicon steel is an integral part of modern industries, playing a key role in various applications. Its unique properties make it an irreplaceable component in transformers, motors, and other electrical apparatus. With continuous research and development, better forms of silicon steel are anticipated, further revolutionizing the industrial landscape.
IEC 404-8-4 (1986) EN 10106 (1995) AISI ASTM A677 (1989) JIS 2552 (1986) GOST 21427 0-75
250-35-A5 M250-35A M 15 36F145 35A250 2413
270-35-A5 M270-35A M 19 36F158 35A270 2412
300-35-A5 M300-35A M 22 36F168 35A300 2411
330-35-A5 M330-35A M 36 36F190
270-50-A5 M270-50A 50A270
290-50-A5 M290-50A M 15 47F168 50A290 2413
310-50-A5 M310-50A M 19 47F174 50A310 2412
330-50-A5 M330-50A M 27 47F190
350-50-A5 M350-50A M 36 47F205 50A350 2411
400-50-A5 M400-50A M 43 47F230 50A400 2312
470-50-A5 M470-50A 47F280 50A470 2311
530-50-A5 M530-50A M 45 47F305 2212
600-50-A5 M600-50A 50A600 2112
700-50-A5 M700-50A M 47 47F400 50A700
800-50-A5 M800-50A 47F450 50A800 2111
350-65-A5 M350-65A M 19 64F208
400-65-A5 M400-65A M 27 64F225
470-65-A5 M470-65A M 43 64F270
530-65-A5 M530-65A 2312
600-65-A5 M600-65A M 45 64F360 2212
700-65-A5 M700-65A 64F400 2211
800-65-A5 M800-65A 65A800 2112
M 47 64F500
1000-65-A5 M1000-65A 64F550 65A1000

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