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“I have a five cent question, looking for a million dollar answer.”

Recently I received a phone call from a long time customer. He is one of several brothers running a 3rd generation family owned aggregate (rock crushing) business.

The brother who called is a bright, dedicated person who asks the right questions to make certain he buys the best products and materials for their equipment. He rarely buys anything some pushy salesman is trying to sell him.

Yesterday he discovered his brother bought some AR200 steel for a chute application. He promptly called me because he had never heard of this material before.

He started out our conversation saying, “I have a five cent question, looking for a million dollar answer”. At JADCO Mfg, we have earned the reputation as the go-to-company for wear resistant answers throughout the USA.

Here Is A Perfect Example of ‘You Don’t Know – What You Don’t Know’
His brother was well-intentioned, but is inexperienced when selecting wear resistant steel. It can be easy to jump at the lure of a bargain on low priced ‘wear’ material.

The old saying is alive and well: “If it seems too good to be true; it probably is.”

Or he may have fallen for some sleazy salesman’s misrepresentation of the product.

Unfortunately Good Intentions Do Not Automatically Equal Good Results

In my experience with wear resistant materials since 1993, I explained to him AR200 steel has little more wear resistance than mild steel.

AR200 is a essentially a medium carbon steel plate with none of the alloying chemistry found in ‘real’ wear plate.

Installing AR200 in an area that takes a pounding more than 10 hours per day, is an absolute waste of time. He will have to replace it when it fails in the middle of their next big project.

If one is good, two should be great; right?
The customer’s brother purchased two AR200 plates. He planned to immediately install one over top of the other. His thinking was when one wore out; the other one is still there for extra protection.

After all, using grade school math this should mean AR200 + AR200 = AR400 – right?

Not when it comes to protecting your equipment investment! This time it doesn’t even work on paper.

In Reality This Concept Is Even Worse
He doesn’t plan for these worn out steel patches to break loose and wreck their expensive crushing equipment when the failed ‘bargain’ steel creates havoc as it goes through a system designed for rocks.

That will be very expensive.

To determine the total accurate cost of this project, you must also include the cost of unplanned downtime, lost profits, additional replacement parts cost, replacement wear plate, etc.

You cannot forget the additional overtime labor needed to dismantle the equipment, just to pull out the scrap material. You still must purchase and install the replacement steel just to get it up and running again.

His Realistic Bottom Line? This cheap steel ‘bargain’ just became their most expensive available option.

And It Is Even Worse
By doubling up the plates, this compounds the issue because the equipment manufacturer did not design the vibratory equipment for the extra weight.

Now he is unintentionally creating additional problems, and causing future bearing failures. He will likely experience broken straps and other components which are now operating out of the manufacturers designed specifications.

Anyone Can Make Inexpensive Steel Have High Hardness Test Values
By simply adding more Carbon or Manganese, the resulting steel will have a harder surface after heat treating, but no deeper than the surface.

Think about an Oreo® cookie. The wafer portion is harder on the top and bottom surface than the soft crème filling in the center.

That is exactly the results you get with AR200. It is somewhat harder than mild steel on the surface. Without any alloying elements that will create the same hardness throughout the thickness of the wear plate.

To verify this information is accurate, I checked websites of two steel distributors and one steel manufacturer online.

The first distributor website states:

“AR200 Medium-carbon manganese steel with moderate hardness of 212-255 BHN.

An inexpensive abrasion resistant material. Can be machined, drilled, punched and formed. Recommended for: Truck liners, material chutes, and material moving equipment.”

In a prior blog post we covered how you should never punch through hardened wear resistant steel. It can make the shatter. This immediately tells you the steel has no alloying chemistry present to make it the same hardness all the way through.

The second steel distributor's website states:

“This product is an as-rolled, medium-carbon steel plate designed for moderate wear resistance. It is referred to as AR200, AR235, or AR Medium depending on the manufacturer. This product is produced to a chemistry to achieve a desired Brinell Hardness range. The typical Brinell Hardness range is 200-250 BHN.”

Here is the translation of their paragraph, so you understand exactly what this information IS NOT TELLING YOU:
• ‘As rolled’ means the steel has not gone through any heat treating process. It is simply rolled to size at the steel mill.
• ‘Medium Carbon Steel’ means the Carbon content of the steel ranges between 0.25% and 0.60%. When welding medium carbon steel in this Carbon range, preheat becomes vital and careful welding alloy selection is needed for a successful installation. This higher the carbon content, it is more likely the steel is difficult to form, weld and is prone to cracking in application.
• Calling their steel “AR200, AR235, or AR Medium depending on the manufacturer”. This means they buy at the lowest price from any steel mill for that shipment. They don’t know what product they will receive, and you have no choice at all. This makes eliminates every effort on your part to achieve any consistent, predictable results.
• “..produced to a chemistry to achieve a desired Brinell Hardness range is 200-250 BHN.” This means by adding a bit more Carbon, they can make an inexpensive steel that has a test hardness in an approximate range. NOTE: This does not guarantee any specific hardness. Later on the page it states the hardness as: “180 BHN minimum, 235 nominal”. Unless you receive the hardness on YOUR specific steel plate, ASTM only requires the hardness on one plate out of every 40 tons of steel produced. The rest can be anything at all.

The steel mill lists the chemistry for their AR200.

It is important to note Chromium, Nickel, Molybdenum and Boron are not listed. It is because AR200 does not contain any of those elements. This means the steel CANNOT achieve the same hardness throughout the thickness of the steel.

Their plate did have higher levels of Carbon and Manganese, allowing the steel to be hard on the top and bottom surfaces as stated before.

This means it will likely be brittle, certainly not suitable for impact applications.

So Where Do You Find The Right Solution to select the correct wear resistant steel for your most challenging applications? You can count on a truly through-hardened 500 BHN plate like QT Plus ® from JADCO.

Unlike the AR200 discussed above, JADCO QT Plus ® is a low carbon steel, having high substantial quantities of Nickel, Chromium, Molybdenum and Boron. These are required to make wear resistant steel the same hardness all the way through the thickness of the plate.

After comprehensive testing, QT Plus ® has been specified by several highly respected OEM mining equipment manufacturers as the wear plate they use to combat their most challenging applications.

We know you will benefit using JADCO QT Plus ® in your most challenging wear applications.

Remember, the time and money you do not waste on a poor initial material decision, goes straight to your bottom line profits.

Take a few minutes to scroll through JADCO’s previous blog posts for additional articles revealing wear resistant steel misconceptions. These are topics your current steel vendor will never tell you.

Isn’t it time for you to invite on of our JADCO sales professional to review your current applications before it is too late?

Together we will review what you are currently using, what you have tried and how it worked previously. Then we can help you achieve real improvements in your process.

Contact your local JADCO professional by calling us at (724) 452-5252 or email us at: info@jadcomfg.com.

We look forward to helping you control your biggest wear related challenges.

If you have questions, or are uncertain working with wear resistant steel, we will be happy to answer them for you. There is a good chance someone else is also not sure if they are traveling down the right path to success using wear resistant steel plate.

If we use your question in an upcoming blog post, you will receive a JADCO cap and T-shirt. Simply email us your inquiry at: info@jadcomfg.com.

TAGS: #AR200, #AR400, #wear resistant steel, #abrasion resistant steel, #impact resistant steel, #customer questions, #aggregate wear plate, #mining wear plate.