Metals are quite useful in our modern world. However, the metals we use in various applications are not pure metals. These metals are treated, reinforced, and mixed with other alloying elements to make them more suitable for specific applications.
When a metal is mixed with other chemical elements, it forms an alloy. It is important to note that the base metal retains its physical properties and mechanical properties in the resultant material.
We will look into different types of alloys and their uses.
1. Aluminum Alloys
Aluminum is a lightweight, silver-white metal that has various uses. But aluminum, as a pure metal, has limited applications. To be useful in more diverse applications, it has to be mixed with other metals to make aluminum alloys by a reputable alloy manufacturer. Aluminum alloys have more tensile strength, denser, more workable, have more resistance to corrosion, and are even better at electrical conductivity.
Aluminum alloys are a result of mixing aluminum with either of the following metals: zinc, silicon, magnesium, copper, or iron.
In the alloying process, the aluminum metal is molten, and then additional metal is added. When the two metals cool, the result is an aluminum alloy.
Different aluminum types of alloys have different names. But there is a four-digit system used to identify the types of alloys. The first digit of the four-digit number identifies the type of alloy. This depends on the metal used to make the alloy.
Series one alloys are 99 percent aluminum. Series two alloys are usually aluminum-copper alloys. The aluminum-copper alloys are strong and tough, but they do not have excellent resistance to corrosion. You have to paint them before using them. A good example of this alloy is aircraft aluminum 2024.
Series three alloys are workable and moderately strong. They make cooking utensils and aluminum beverage cans. These are alloys of aluminum, manganese, and small quantities of magnesium.
The aluminum used to make welding wires is a series four aluminum alloy. These alloys have a low melting point but are not brittle. Silicon is the metal additive of these series-four alloys.
The metal used to make storage tanks and pressure vessels is a series-five aluminum alloy. These are alloys made of aluminum and magnesium. These alloys have more application in the marine industry because they are strong and resist corrosion.
Series six alloys are made from magnesium silicate, which is a combination of magnesium and silicon. Aluminum 6061 is usually used to make boat frames and trucks. These alloys are both strong and weldable, as well as heat treatable.
Series seven aluminum alloys are used to make aircraft. They are made of aluminum and zinc. These alloys are usually strong and heat-treatable.
The eighth series of alloys use other alloying elements. The most common types of alloys in the series are 8500, 8510, and 8520. The ninth-series metals are unused.
The different types of aluminum alloys, including custom alloys, make aluminum very usable in many applications.
2. Stainless Steel Alloys
Stainless steel is reinforced steel that resists corrosion. It has a variety of common applications. These include cutlery and cookware, appliances, surgical instruments, and hardware. It is also applicable in industrial applications, automotive industries, and aerospace applications, as shown below.
Stainless steel alloy types are divided into three different categories: austenitic, ferritic, and martensitic. These alloys are mixed with different amounts of chromium, nickel, and carbon.
Austenitic Alloys: Austenitic alloys contain up to 26 percent chromium and 22 percent nickel. These alloys have exceptional corrosion resistance and are non-magnetic.
Even so, they have excellent formability and workability. They are also easy to keep clean. In addition, they are resistant to most chemicals. So, they are preferred in the food industry.
Ferritic Alloys: These alloys do not contain nickel, but they can have up to 30 percent chromium. They are less ductile than austenitic alloys.
But they are not hardened by heating. They are also ferromagnetic, have excellent corrosion resistance, and have fair weldability.
Martensitic Alloys: These alloys do not have nickel in them, either. But they contain higher amounts of carbon content than austenitic and ferritic alloys.
They also contain up to 14 percent chromium. Like ferritic alloys, they are ferromagnetic. But unlike ferritic alloys, they can be hardened by heating.
There are more suballoys under the three major stainless steel alloys. The alloy-making technology keeps growing hence more and more alloys. All the alloys are curated depending on the use of the metal.
Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin with a ratio of 88 to 12 percent. It may also include some trace amounts of other metals such as phosphorus, silicon, manganese, and aluminum.
Bronze’s chemical properties are very similar to those of brass and copper. However, there are other qualities that are distinctly bronze. One of them has a higher melting point of 950 degrees Celsius hence used in making fireworks. Bronze is also more brittle than brass and copper.
Nonetheless, bronze still has wonderful qualities, including great thermal conductivity, high ductility, and high resistance to saltwater corrosion.
There are different alloys types of bronze, including
Silicon bronze: It contains six percent silicon and is used to make pump and valve parts.
Phosphor bronze: It contains less than half a percent of phosphor and 11 percent tin. It is used in springs, bellows, washers, electrical components, anti-corrosive equipment, and musical instruments.
Aluminum bronze: It contains up to 12 percent aluminum. It is mostly used in marine applications and in the water, oil, and petrochemical supply industries.
Manganese bronze: It contains up to three percent manganese. It is corrosive resistant and used to make boat propellers, bolts, nuts, gears, and pump parts.
Bearing bronze: It has a lead content of up to eight percent. It is used to make bearings and bushings.
Copper-Nickel Bronze: This alloy contains up to 30% nickel and is used to manufacture marine equipment, pumps, ship hulls, and valves.
4. Nickel Alloys
Nickel is a great metal found in the crust of our planet. It has amazing qualities that make it useful in many applications. These include its ductility.
Nonetheless, the metal is mostly used to add different desirable properties to other metals and make metal alloys.
When nickel is used to make an alloy, it can help increase resistance to oxidation and corrosion for given metals. It can increase the temperatures at which a metal is suitable. But it can lower the thermal coefficient of certain metals.
Nickel-iron alloys: These alloys are used to make precision measurement equipment by Mil-spec suppliers, memory storage, transformers, and inductors.
Nickel-copper alloys are used to make marine piping systems, water valves, and pumping shafts.
Nickel-molybdenum alloys have high chemical resistance and are used in piping, pressure vessels, heat exchangers, gaskets, pumps, and valves.
Nickel-chromium alloys are used to make electrical-resistance heaters and toasters because of their high electrical resistance and high-temperature strength.
Nickel can be combined with many other metals to help give the metal functional properties.
Alloys enable a much broader range of metal applications. They do this by making the metals a little stronger, corrosive-resistant, ductile, or any other property desired.
There are different types of metal alloys. The determinant of an alloy’s properties is the base metal, except for ternary alloys. Additional chemicals are added to reinforce the base metal properties.