Unless you live and work in a net-zero wood-frame house off a dirt road, you almost certainly interact with products or infrastructure made from American custom forge steel on a daily basis.

Minnesota Iron, a trade organization, rounds up some of the things that couldn’t exist without steel or iron: 

  • Stainless steel silverware and cutlery
  • Household appliances, like washing machines and dryers
  • Commercial and multifamily residential construction — steel is one of the most common building materials in use today
  • Cars and trucks
  • Heavy equipment, including the tractors and plows upon which modern agriculture is dependent

The list goes on, but the takeaway is clear: Life wouldn’t be the same without steel and iron. Indeed, life would be much, much more difficult.

Steel is found in a slew of products most of us use or encounter every day. It also has a far more diverse range of uses than most laypeople realize. Let’s take a closer look at five lesser-known uses for American-made steel

1. Public Sculpture

Steel is an underappreciated and — its advocates would say — underutilized art medium. One only need look at the exceptions that prove the rule, like Majestic Steel president and CEO Todd Leebow’s prescient decision to incorporate American-made steel furniture and design elements into his firm’s new headquarters building, to grasp steel’s artistic potential.

2. Non-Structural Architectural Elements

In commercial construction, steel dominates the skeletal framework keeping occupants safe and comfortable. But it’s also renowned as a non-structural architectural element. One only need to look at the spire-studded skyline of any major city to see why.

3. Residential Roofing

This is a “get what you pay for” situation: In small-scale residential applications, steel roofing is more expensive than traditional products like asphalt shingle and stucco. But it lasts far longer, and proves far better at protecting what’s beneath, than those imperfect materials.

4. High-Performance Medical Equipment and Devices

While surgical steel makes up just a tiny fraction of the total volume of steel produced in the United States, its (literally) lifesaving potential can’t be overlooked. Many high-performance medical devices and diagnostic machines contain significant steel content, too.

5. Power Distribution Infrastructure

Copper, not iron and steel, dominate power generation and distribution — right?

Not exactly. Steel is a crucial component of the nation’s electrical infrastructure, from wiring itself to the heavy-duty equipment (transformers, transmission towers, and so on) that safely deliver power from point A to point B.

Steel Is the Foundation of America

It’s no exaggeration to say that steel is literally the foundation of America’s built environment. The skyline of your home city, the roads you drive or ride every day, the modern machines without which your lifestyle wouldn’t be possible — all contain components made from steel, much of it produced right here in the United States.

It’s clear from the applications we’ve explored here that steel is a key driver of the country’s creative potential, too. It just goes to show that American brawn and brains can coexist more comfortably than we realize.