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Design & Technology

Materials

Metals

Most metals are extracted from their oresore: An ore is a rock containing enough quantities of a mineral that it is profitable to extract it. using a chemical reaction. Metals are rarely used in their pure form, and are usually mixed with other metals to improve their properties. This is called an alloyalloy: An alloy is a compound of two or more elements, at least one of which is a metal.. Most metals are good conductorsconductor: An electrical conductor is a material which allows an electrical current to pass through it easily. It has a low resistance. A thermal conductor allows thermal energy to be transferred through it easily. and can be recycled.

Ferrous metals

Ferrous metals contain iron. Examples are cast iron, mild steel, medium carbon steel, high carbon steel, stainless steel and high speed steel.

The ferrous metals listed below are all alloys.

Composition, properties and uses of ferrous metals

Name and melting pointProperties and characteristicsPrincipal uses
Cast iron 1200°CHard [hard: Able to resist wear, scratching and indentation. ] skin, softer underneath, but brittlebrittle: If something is brittle it is easily broken., corrodes [corrosion: The destruction of a metal by oxidation or chemical action. ] by rustingParts with complex shapes which can be made by casting
Mild steel 1600°CTough [tough: Able to withstand blows or sudden shocks without breaking. ], ductileductile: If a material is ductile it is capable of being drawn into thin sheets or wires without breaking., malleablemalleable: If a material is malleable it is capable of being hammered or pressed out of shape without being likely to break or return to the original shape., good tensile strength [tensile strength: The tension a material can withstand without breaking. ], poor resistance to corrosion [corrosion: The destruction of a metal by oxidation or chemical action. ]General purpose engineering material
High carbon steel 1800°CEven harder than medium carbon steel and more brittle, can be heat-treated to make it harder and tougherCutting tools, ball bearings
Stainless steel 1400°CHard and tough, resistant to wear and corrosion Cutlery, kitchen equipment

Non-ferrous metals

Non-ferrous metals do not contain iron. Some common non-ferrous metals are aluminium, Duralumin, copper, zinc, brass, gilding metal and tin.

Composition, properties and uses of non-ferrous metals:

Name and melting pointCompositionProperties and characteristicsPrincipal uses
Aluminium 660°CPure aluminiumGood strength [strength: The ability of a material to withstand a force without breaking or bending. ]-to-weight ratio, light, soft, ductile, good conductor of heat and electricityKitchen equipment, window frames, general cast components
Copper 1080°CPure copperMalleable and ductile, good conductor of heat and electricity, resistant to corrosionWater pipes, electrical wire, decorative goods
Brass 900-1000°CAlloyResistant to corrosion, fairly hard, good conductor of heat and electricityOrnaments, cast items such as water taps
Tin 230°CPure tinSoft, weak, malleable, ductile and resistant to corrosionUsually used for coating steel to form tin-plate, soft solder [solder: An alloy used to join metallic parts. ]

Back to Resistant materials index

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