Nature has always blessed us with millions of elements in free and combined forms. And humans have always utilized their wits and skills to use these elements to their fullest. One such element exploited by humans is metal. Metals in every form ranging from ferrous, and non-ferrous to alloys are being used by us in our day-to-day life. But still, many of us would be unable to clearly identify the difference between metals or their uses if asked, like what are ferrous metals, non-ferrous metals & alloys. Also, the uses of ferrous metals, non-ferrous metals & alloys are different. To get more information & understand what is the use of Alloys, ferrous & non-ferrous metal, spend your 2 minutes reading this article.
Ferrous Metals- Definition, Types & Uses
Ferrous metals are elements that contain Iron(Ferrum) as their base or primary component. Due to the high reactivity of Iron, it is found in around 10 different forms namely Pig Iron(Grey, White, and Bessember Pig Iron), Cast Iron(Grey, White, Malleable, Ductile, and Alloy Cast Iron), Wrought Iron and Steel.
It is interesting to note that all of these forms are somehow used in different aspects of our life.
Uses of Ferrous Metals
- Grey Cast Iron is majorly used in construction sites and to manufacture construction tools such as flywheels, automobile housing & heads, and metal pipe fitting due to no ductility and high compressive strength.
- White Cast Iron comes with High wear & tear resistibility and hence is used in crushing grain rollers, car wheels, shot blasting equipment, coal grinding mills, and other such activities.
- Malleable cast iron is designed to undergo high pressures. Hence, it is used for the construction of railway tracks, steering gear, door hinges, locks, anchors of ships, and automotive parts.
- Ductile Cast Iron is used for machine frames, gearboxes, wheels, hydraulic cylinders, rolling mills, shock absorbers, and much more.
- Alloy cast iron is used for camshafts, cylinder liners, automotive components, piston rings, crankcases, IC Engines, grinding machines, and much more.
- Wrought iron is best known for its toughness and shock-absorbing capability and hence is used for manufacturing chains, shackles, iron gates, tubes, metallic plates, and much more.
- High-carbon steel is a ferrous metal that is known for its shear resistance and is used for manufacturing punches, drills, and metal-cutting tools. Recently it is being used in various Covid-19 testing medicine modules.
- Mild-Carbon steel is softer to work with and hence is used in the manufacturing of boilerplates, seamless tubes, non-cutting tools, nuts, manufacturing bolts, and more.
Non-Ferrous Metals: Definition, Types & Uses
Non-Ferrous Metals are the ones that do not have iron as a major constituent in their composition. These metals and their alloys have major advantages due to the increased fabrication, thermal conductivity, and low reactivity.
A few examples of non-ferrous metals are:
Aluminium, Copper, Magnesium, Nickle, Zinc, Lead, Titanium, Gold, Silver, etc.
Uses of Non-Ferrous Metals
- Aluminum is majorly used for manufacturing aircraft’s outer structures due to its lightweight and durability. Apart from the structure, it is also used to manufacture ball bearing, outer engine turbines, seat frames, and fuel nozzles of the airplane.
Al is also used for preparing paints, electric cables, roofings, window frames, kettles, and cookers and is used as a de-oxidizer in marine engineering to stop the reaction of oxygen present in seawater.
- Copper is used for manufacturing copper alloys such as Brasses and Bronze. It is used in engineering applications such as electroplating, and manufacturing of munitions, pipes, and tubes. A layer of copper is used in eclectic devices due to its current holding and flowing capability.
- Magnesium is added to products to keep them lightweight due to their hollow inner structure and molecule arrangement. It is used in laptops, car seats, firecrackers, power tools, sparkles, and flares.
- Nickel and its alloys are used for different purposes such as Coin manufacturing, rechargeable cadmium batteries, turbine blades, propeller shaft, armor plating, and hybrid batteries.
- Zinc is used to neutralize higher reactive metals such as Iron and is used in suspension bridges, safety barriers, and die-casting, it forms alloys such as bronze and brass. Oxides and Sulphides of Zinc are used in medication for diarrhea.
- Lead is used in cable seething, scuba diving, manufacturing of bearings, solder, radiation protection, crystal glasses, car batteries, and as coloring agents.
- Titanium and its alloys are used in the manufacturing of Golf equipment for the last 20 years. Apart from that it is used in plastic paints, enamels, covering powder, and paper.
- Silver and Gold are always been major jewelry-manufacturing metals. But they are used for other purposes such as in tooth restoration medicine, casting, manufacturing of colored glasses, engine bearings, water purification systems, and much more.
Alloys: Definition, Types & Uses
Alloys are metals that are manufactured by combining two metals which are usually reactive and corrosive in nature. These metals are generally stronger and less reactive to corrosion as compared to ferrous and non-ferrous metals.
There are many alloys metals in the market such as Brass, Bronze, Carbon Steel, Monel, Tungsten, and many more. In reality, the alloys can be formed of any 2 metals that are stable. It is also interesting to see how alloys are replacing pure metals in almost every aspect of industries.
Uses of Alloys
- Alloys are used in our daily life in the form of wall decorative materials, microwave cookers, baking ovens, pressure valves, washing machine tubes, and vehicular parts. They are less reactive to corrosion and do not compromise with metallic properties such as conductibility, resistance, ductility, tensile strength, and other factors.
- Brass which is an alloy of Zinc and Copper is widely used for door knobs, handles, and locks.
- Aluminum forms alloys with many metals such as Manganese, Magnesium, Zinc, and Copper to give products such as cooking utensils, air-tight containers, sailing boat masts, car bumpers, foil paper, bottle caps, toothpaste tubes, water heating bags, and more. Therefore form a very important component of food chemistry.
- Alloys are used on a large scale in the marine and airline industries for the manufacturing of various components. Both industries are very prone to rusting and corrosion. Using an allow not only reduces the rate of corrosion but also increases the shelf life and durability of products.
- An alloy of copper and brass is being used to replace the general structure of electric wires due to the better-combined conductivity of both elements.
- Coin Metal(70% Copper and 30% Nickle) is used for making coins rather than pure metals due to cost efficiency.
- A known alloy of mercury is used in the medical field in the form of Amalgum and is used to fill teeth cavities. Also, most of the medical equipment used such as operation trays, scissors, stethoscope buds, needles, and others are alloy metals.
- One of the earliest and most common uses of an alloy is Alloy Wheels. In the current world, almost 89% of vehicle wheels are made up of alloy metals. They not only provide a good visual sense but adds to the wear-tear resistibility of pure metals.
We can safely conclude that natural elements in the form of alloys, ferrous metals, and non-ferrous metals are used in almost every aspect of our life varying from the medical fields, construction sites, and vehicle parts to household goods, jewelry production, and marine industry.