Brushes of various sizes are used to remove rust from metal, remove contamination or deburr a rough surface.
Carbon steel brushes are used because they are highly durable and have an excellent cutting ability. Carbon steel on a brush makes a great tool for general metal cleaning purposes. Other steel brushes are made out of stainless steel wire. The benefit of this is that the stainless steel is both heat resistant and corrosive resistant. This makes a good tool for cleaning or roughing a surface before adhesion.
Steel brushes are manufactured in traditional styles to be used manually, or they can be designed to go on rollers and spin in an automated system. Most manual steel brushes are mounted on a handle that a person and grasp. Some of these brushes are very thin and flexible so that they can fit in tight spaces and clean equipment components. The handles are made from plastic, wood or metal.
A steel brush on a roller is usually mounted over a conveyor belt in an industrial setting. Objects run underneath the roller and the contact with the spinning steel brush cleans the object. Small circular steel wire brushes can be manufactured to fit most common power drills. The drill creates a rapid rotation for the brush so that it can quickly remove dirt and rust upon contact with an object.
The only time that steel brushes should not be used is in an environment where flammable liquids or materials are present. The friction of steel wire against other materials at high speeds will create sparks that could fly in any direction. Safety glasses should be worn around a powered steel brush. Steel brushes are often used in welding shops to smooth out ripples and rough edges in joints that have been welded. After being treated with a steel brush, welded corners will be smooth and seamless with the rest of the metal.