The term “cast iron” designates an entire family of metals with a wide variety of properties. It is a generic term like steel which also designates a family of metals. Steels and cast irons are both primarily iron with carbon as the main alloying element. Steels contain less than 2% and usually less than 1% carbon, while all cast irons contain more than 2% carbon. About 2% is the maximum carbon content at which iron can solidify as a single phase alloy with all of the carbon in solution in austenite. Thus, the cast irons by definition solidify as heterogeneous alloys and always have more than one constituent in their microstructure. Read more