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A spool of wire rope made from steel, which is a metal alloy whose major component is iron, with carbon content between 0.02% and 2.14% by mass. Attribution: I, Johannes 'volty' Hemmerlein.



An alloy is a mixture of metals or a mixture of a metal with another non-metallic element. Alloys are defined by a metallic bonding character. An alloy may be a solid solution of metal elements (a single phase) or a mixture of metallic phases (two or more solutions). Intermetallic compounds are alloys with a defined stoichiometry and crystal structure. Zintl phases are also sometimes considered alloys depending on bond types, like Van Arkel-Ketelaar triangle bonding in binary compounds).

Alloys are used in a wide variety of applications. In some cases, a combination of metals may reduce the overall cost of the material while preserving important properties. In other cases, the combination of metals imparts synergistic properties to the constituent metal elements such as corrosion resistance or mechanical strength. Examples of alloys are steel, solder, brass, pewter, duralumin, bronze and amalgams.

The alloy constituents are usually measured by thire mass. Alloys are usually classified as substitutional or interstitial alloys, depending on the atomic arrangement that forms the alloy. They can be further classified as homogeneous (consisting of a single phase), or heterogeneous (consisting of two or more phases) or intermetallic.

Alloying elements are added to a base metal, to induce hardness, toughness, ductility, or other desired properties. Most metals and alloys can be work hardened by creating defects in their crystal structure. These defects are created during plastic deformation by hammering, bending, extruding, etcetera, and are permanent unless the metal is recrystallized. Otherwise, some alloys can also have their properties altered by heat treatment. Nearly all metals can be softened by annealing, which recrystallizes the alloy and repairs the defects, but not as many can be hardened by controlled heating and cooling. Many alloys of aluminium, copper, magnesium, titanium, and nickel can be strengthened to some degree by some method of heat treatment, but few respond to this to the same degree as does steel.

An amalgam is an alloy of mercury with another metal. Almost all metals can form amalgams with mercury, the notable exceptions being iron, platinum, tungsten and tantalum. Silver-mercury amalgams are important in dentistry, and gold-mercury amalgam is used in the extraction of gold from ore.







The term latten referred loosely to the copper alloys such as brass or bronze that appeared in the Middle Ages and through to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It was used for monumental brasses, in decorative effects on borders, rivets or other details of metalwork (particularly armour), in livery and pilgrim badges or funerary effigies. Metalworkers commonly formed latten in thin sheets and used it to make church utensils. Brass of this period is made through the calamine brass process, from copper and zinc ore. Later brass was made with zinc metal from Champion's smelting process and is not generally referred to as latten. This calamine brass was generally manufactured as hammered sheet or "battery brass" (hammered by a "battery" of water-powered trip hammers) and cast brass was rare.

"Latten" also refers to a type of tin plating on iron (or possibly some other base metal), which is known as white latten; and black latten refers to laten-brass, which is brass milled into thin plates or sheets.

The term "latten" has also been used, rarely, to refer to lead alloys.

In general, metal in thin sheets is said to be latten such as gold latten; and lattens (plural) refers to metal sheets between 1/64" and 1/32" in thickness.


  • Not to be confused with the skin tan tone, hair dye colour, the UK political figure Andrew Bronz or the European corporate award of Best Graduate Recruitment Program Bronze Award in APAC work.

Bronze (true bronze)[]

Detail of the relief memorial to Cyprian Kamil Norwid, Wawel Cathedral, Kraków, by Czesław Dźwigaj.

Some of the Benin Bronzes. Attribution: ​English-speaking Wikipedia user Warofdreams.

Bronze deer figurine dating from between the 9th and 6th centuries BC, National Archaeological Museum of Bulgaria of Sofia, Bulgaria.

A Chinese ritual bronze, Ding form, Western Zhou (1046–771 BC). Photographer: Mountain.


Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12% tin and often with the addition of other metals (such as aluminium, manganese, nickel or zinc) and sometimes non-metals or metalloids such as arsenic, phosphorus or silicon. These additions produce a range of alloys that may be harder than copper alone, or have other useful properties, such as stiffness, ductility, or machinability.

The archeological period where bronze was the hardest metal in widespread use is known as the Bronze Age. In the ancient Near East this began with the rise of Sumer in the 4th millennium BC, with India and China starting to use bronze around the same time; everywhere it gradually spread across regions. The Bronze Age was followed by the Iron Age starting from about 1300 BC and reaching most of Eurasia by about 500 BC, though bronze continued to be much more widely used than it is in modern times.

Because historical pieces were often made of brasses (copper and zinc) and bronzes with different compositions, modern museum and scholarly descriptions of older objects increasingly use the more inclusive term "copper alloy" instead.

Metallurgical formula[]

There are many different bronze alloys, but typically modern bronze is 88% copper and 12% tin. Alpha bronze consists of the alpha solid solution of tin in copper. Alpha bronze alloys of 4–5% tin are used to make coins, springs, turbines and blades. Historical "bronzes" are highly variable in composition, as most metalworkers probably used whatever scrap was on hand; the metal of the 12th-century English Gloucester Candlestick is bronze containing a mixture of copper, zinc, tin, lead, nickel, iron, antimony, arsenic with an unusually large amount of silver – between 22.5% in the base and 5.76% in the pan below the candle. The proportions of this mixture suggests that the candlestick was made from a hoard of old coins. The Benin Bronzes are really brass, and the Romanesque Baptismal font at St Bartholomew's Church, Liège is described as both bronze and brass.

In the Bronze Age, two forms of bronze were commonly used: "classic bronze", about 10% tin, was used in casting; and "mild bronze", about 6% tin, was hammered from ingots to make sheets. Bladed weapons were mostly cast from classic bronze, while helmets and armor were hammered from mild bronze.

Commercial bronze (90% copper and 10% zinc) and architectural bronze (57% copper, 3% lead, 40% zinc) are more properly regarded as brass alloys because they contain zinc as the main alloying ingredient. They are commonly used in architectural applications. 

Bismuth bronze is a bronze alloy with a composition of 52% copper, 30% nickel, 12% zinc, 5% lead, and 1% bismuth. It is able to hold a good polish and so is sometimes used in light reflectors and mirrors. 

Plastic bronze is bronze containing a significant quantity of lead which makes for improved plasticity possibly used by the ancient Greeks in their ship construction. 

Silicon bronze has a composition of Si: 2.80–3.80%, Mn: 0.50–1.30%, Fe: 0.80% max., Zn: 1.50% max., Pb: 0.05% max., Cu: balance. 

Other bronze alloys include aluminium bronze, phosphor bronze, manganese bronze, bell metal, arsenical bronze, speculum metal and cymbal alloys.


Bronzes are typically very ductile alloys. By way of comparison, most bronzes are considerably less brittle than cast iron. Typically bronze only oxidizes superficially; once a copper oxide (eventually becoming copper carbonate) layer is formed, the underlying metal is protected from further corrosion. However, if copper chlorides are formed, a corrosion-mode called "bronze disease" will eventually completely destroy it. Copper-based alloys have lower melting points than steel or iron, and are more readily produced from their constituent metals. They are generally about 10 percent denser than steel, although alloys using aluminium or silicon may be slightly less dense. Bronzes have lower hardness, strength and elastic modulus—bronze springs, for example, are less stiff and so store less energy for the same deflection. Bronze resists corrosion (especially seawater corrosion) and metal fatigue more than steel and is a better conductor of heat and electricity than most steels. The cost of copper-base alloys is generally higher than that of steels but lower than that of nickel-base alloys.

Copper and its alloys have a huge variety of uses that reflect their versatile physical, mechanical, and chemical properties. Some common examples are the high electrical conductivity of pure copper, the low-friction properties of bearing bronze (bronze which has a high lead content— 6–8%), the resonant qualities of bell bronze (20% tin, 80% copper), and the resistance to corrosion by sea water of several bronze alloys.

The melting point of bronze varies depending on the ratio of the alloy components and is about 950 °C (1,742 °F). Bronze is usually nonmagnetic, but certain alloys containing iron or nickel may have magnetic properties.

Varieties of ship fittings[]

Bronze, or bronze-like alloys and mixtures, were used for coins over a longer period. Bronze was especially suitable for use in boat and ship fittings prior to the wide employment of stainless steel owing to its combination of toughness and resistance to salt water corrosion. Bronze is still commonly used in ship propellers and submerged bearings.

In the 20th century, silicon was introduced as the primary alloying element, creating an alloy with wide application in industry and the major form used in contemporary statuary. Sculptors may prefer silicon bronze because of the ready availability of silicon bronze brazing rod, which allows colour-matched repair of defects in castings. Aluminium is also used for the structural metal aluminium bronze.

It is also widely used for casting bronze sculptures. Many common bronze alloys have the unusual and very desirable property of expanding slightly just before they set, thus filling in the finest details of a mould. Bronze parts are tough and typically used for bearings, clips, electrical connectors and springs.

Bronze also has very low friction against dissimilar metals, making it important for cannons prior to modern tolerancing, where iron cannonballs would otherwise stick in the barrel. It is still widely used today for springs, bearings, bushings, automobile transmission pilot bearings, and similar fittings, and is particularly common in the bearings of small electric motors. Phosphor bronze is particularly suited to precision-grade bearings and springs. It is also used in guitar and piano strings.

Unlike steel, bronze struck against a hard surface will not generate sparks, so it (along with beryllium copper) is used to make hammers, mallets, wrenches and other durable tools to be used in explosive atmospheres or in the presence of flammable vapors. Bronze is used to make bronze wool for woodworking applications where steel wool would discolour oak.

Aluminium bronze[]

Aluminium bronze with 20% Aluminium at 500x magnification. Author: Eisenbeisser.


Aluminium bronze is a type of bronze in which aluminium is the main alloying metal added to copper, in contrast to standard bronze (copper and tin) or brass (copper and zinc). A variety of aluminium bronzes of differing compositions have found industrial use, with most ranging from 5% to 11% aluminium by weight, the remaining mass being copper; other alloying agents such as iron, nickel, manganese, and silicon are also sometimes added to aluminium bronzes. Most common standard compositions are listed by the ISO 428 designations.

Properties and usages[]

Aluminium bronzes are most valued for their higher strength and corrosion resistance as compared to other bronze alloys. These alloys are tarnish-resistant and show low rates of corrosion in atmospheric conditions, low oxidation rates at high temperatures, and low reactivity with sulfurous compounds and other exhaust products of combustion.

Aluminium bronzes are most valued for their higher strength and corrosion resistance as compared to other bronze alloys. These alloys are tarnish-resistant and show low rates of corrosion in atmospheric conditions, low oxidation rates at high temperatures, and low reactivity with sulfurous compounds and other exhaust products of combustion.

Aluminium bronzes are most commonly used in applications where their resistance to corrosion makes them preferable to other engineering materials. These applications include plain bearings and landing gear components on aircraft, guitar strings, engine components (especially for seagoing ships), underwater fastenings in naval architecture, ships' propellers, jwellery and alike.

Aluminium bronze can be welded using the MIG welding technique (not related to MiG fighters) with an aluminium bronze core and pure argon gas.

Aluminium bronzes tend to have a golden color.

Alloys similar to aluminium bronze are used in making coins, for example the 20, 200 and 500 Italian Lire, the one and two dollar coins of Australian and New Zealand currency produced by the Royal Australian Mint, some Mexican coins and the Nordic gold used for some Euro coins. The Canadian 2 dollar coin, produced by the Royal Canadian Mint and circulated since 1996, is a bi-metallic piece with an outer ring of nickel-plated steel and an inner circle of Aluminium bronze composed of 92% copper, 6% Aluminium, and 2% nickel (also known as Bronzital).

Metallurgical compositions[]

The following table lists the most common standard aluminium bronze wrought alloy compositions, by ISO 428 designations. The percentages show the proportional composition of the alloy by weight. Copper is the remainder by weight and is not listed:

Alloy Aluminium Iron Nickel Manganese Zinc Arsenic
CuAl5 4.0–6.5% 0.5% max. 0.8% max. 0.5% max. 0.5% max. 0.4% max.
CuAl8 7.0–9.0% 0.5% max. 0.8% max. 0.5% max. 0.5% max. .
CuAl8Fe3 6.5–8.5% 1.5–3.5% 1.0% max. 0.8% max. 0.5% max. .
CuAl9Mn2 8.0–10.0% 1.5% max. 0.8% max. 1.5–3.0% 0.5% max. .
CuAl10Fe3 8.5–11.0% 2.0–4.0% 1.0% max. 2.0% max. 0.5% max. .
CuAl10Fe5Ni5 8.5–11.5% 2.0–6.0% 4.0–6.0% 2.0% max. 0.5% max. .

French Bronze[]

French Bronze is a form of bronze typically consisting of 91% copper, 2% tin, 6% zinc, and 1% lead.

The term French bronze was also used in connection with cheap zinc statuettes and other articles, which were finished to resemble real bronze, and some older texts call the faux-bronze finish itself "French bronze". Its composition was typically 5 parts hematite powder to 8 parts lead oxide, formed into a paste with spirits of wine. Variations in tint could be obtained by varying the proportions. The preparation was applied to the article to be bronzed with a soft brush, then polished with a hard brush after it had dried.

Phosphor bronze[]


Corinthian bronze[]



Mag-Thor is the common name for a range of magnesium alloys containing thorium that are used in aerospace engineering.

Alloy car wheals[]

Road cars have an alloy which is 95% aluminium, 4.95% magnesium, trace amounts of manganese, trace amounts of titanium. Racing cars have an alloy which is 95% magnesium, 4.95% aluminium and trace amounts of manganese, vanadium and\or titanium.

Magnesium is 1.5 times less dense than aluminum, so magnesium wheels can be designed to be significantly lighter than aluminum alloy wheels, while exhibiting comparable strength.





Nickel alloys[]

Nickel silver[]


Raney nickel[]


Cupronickel (also known as copper-nickel)[]




Nickel aluminide[]

Nickel aluminide (Ni3Al) is an intermetallic alloy of nickel and aluminum with properties similar to both a ceramic and a metal.

  • There are three materials called nickel aluminide:
  1. NiAl, CAS number 12003-78-0 (see also )
  2. NiAl3, CAS number 12004-71-6
  3. Ni3Al, tri-nickel aluminide

An intermetallic compound can be defined as an ordered alloy phase formed between two metallic elements, where an alloy phase is ordered if two or more sublattices are required to describe its atomic structure. The ordered structure exhibits superior elevated-temperature properties because of the long-range ordered superlattice, which reduces dislocation mobility and diffusion processes at elevated temperatures.

Nickel aluminide is used as a strengthening constituent in high-temperature nickel-base superalloys, however, unalloyed nickel aluminide has a tendency to exhibit brittle fracture and low ductility at ambient temperatures. Nickel aluminide is unique in that it has very high thermal conductivity combined with high strength at high temperature. These properties, combined with its high strength and low density, make it ideal for special applications like coating blades in gas turbines and jet engines.

In 2005, the most abrasion-resistant material was reportedly created by embedding diamonds in a matrix of nickel aluminide.

  • IC-221M's properties:
  1. Density = 7.16 g/cm3
  2. Yield Strength = 855 MPa
  3. Hardness = HRC 12
  4. Thermal Conductivity Ni3Al = 28.85 (W/m.K)
  5. Thermal Conductivity NiAl = 76 (W/m.K)
  6. Melting Point Ni3Al = 1668 K
  7. Melting Point NiAl = 1955 K
  8. Thermal expansion coefficient = 12.5 (10−6/K−1)
  9. Bonding = covalent/metallic
  10. Electrical resistivity = 32.59 (10−8Ωm)



Constantan is a copper–nickel alloy also known as Eureka, Advance, and Ferry. It usually consists of 55% copper and 45% nickel. Its main feature is its resistivity, which is constant over a wide range of temperatures. Other alloys with similarly low temperature coefficients are known, such as manganin (Cu86Mn12Ni2).


In 1887, Edward Weston discovered that metals can have a negative temperature coefficient of resistance, inventing what he called his "Alloy No. 2." It was produced in Germany where it was renamed "constantan".


Of all modern strain gauge alloys, constantan is the oldest, and still the most widely used. It has other similar uses these days.


Nichrome (NiCr, nickel-chrome, chrome-nickel, etc.) are alloys of nickel, chromium, and often iron (and possibly other elements). The most common usage is as resistance wire, though they are also used in some dental restorations (fillings) and in a few other applications.


Patented in 1905, Nichrome is the oldest documented form of resistance heating alloy. A common Nichrome alloy is 80% nickel and 20% chromium, by mass, but there are many other combinations of metals for various applications. Nichrome is consistently silvery-grey in colour, is corrosion-resistant, and has a high melting point of about 1,400 °C (2,550 °F). Due to its low cost of manufacture, strength, ductility, resistance to oxidation and stability at high temperatures, as well as its resistance to the flow of electrons, Nichrome is widely used in electric heating elements such as in hair dryers and heat guns. Typically, nichrome is wound in coils to a certain electrical resistance, and when current is passed through it the joule heating produces heat.


Almost any conductive wire can be used for heating, but most metals conduct electricity with great efficiency, requiring them to be formed into very thin/ delicate wires in order to create enough resistance to generate heat. Once heated, most metals then oxidize quickly, become brittle, and break when heated in air. When heated to red hot temperatures, nichrome wire, however, develops an outer layer of chromium oxide, thermodynamically stable in air, mostly impervious to oxygen, and protects the heating element from further oxidation.

Nichrome is used in the explosives and fireworks industry as a bridgewire in electric ignition systems, such as electric matches and model rocket igniters.

Industrial and hobby hot-wire foam cutters use nichrome wire.

Nichrome wire is commonly used in ceramic as an internal support structure to help some elements of clay sculptures hold their shape while they are still soft. Nichrome wire is used for its ability to withstand the high temperatures that occur when clay work is fired in a kiln.

Nichrome wire can be used as an alternative to platinum wire for flame testing by colouring the non-luminous part of a flame to detect cations such as sodium, potassium, copper, calcium etc.

Other areas of usage include motorcycle mufflers, in certain areas in the microbiological lab apparatus, as the heating element of plastic extruders by the RepRap 3D printing community, in the solar panel deployment mechanism of spacecraft LightSail-A, as the heating coils of electronic cigarettes.

The alloy price is controlled by the relatively more-expensive nickel content. Distributor pricing is typically indexed to market prices for nickel.

NiCrA stats[]

  1. Chemical Composition: 80% Ni, 20% Cr
  2. Approx. Melting Point: 1400°C

NiCrC stats[]

  1. Chemical Composition: 61% Ni, 15% Cr, 24% Fe
  2. Approx. Melting Point: 1350°C

Aluminium-lithium alloy (Al 2195)[]

A Space Shuttle External Tank (ET) on its way to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Cape Kennedy.

It is 30 % stronger and 5 % less dense than the Al 2219 alloy used in the original Space Shuttle's external tank.

The alloy composition of Al 2195 aluminium is:

  1. Aluminium: 91.9 to 94.9%
  2. Copper: 3.7 to 4.3%
  3. Lithium: 0.8 to 1.2%
  4. Manganese: 0.25 to 0.8%
  5. Silver: 0.25 to 0.6%
  6. Zirconium: 0.08 to 0.16%
  7. Iron: 0.15% max
  8. Silicon: 0.12% max
  9. Titanium: 0.1% max
  10. Zinc: 0.25% max
  11. Residuals: 0.15% max




Britannia metal[]


Zinc alloys[]

Zinc aluminium[]

Zinc-aluminium (ZA) alloys are alloys whose main constituents are zinc and aluminium. Other alloying elements include magnesium and copper. This type of alloy was originally developed for gravity casting. Noranda, New Jersey Zinc Co. Ltd., St. Joe Mineral Co. and the International Lead Zinc Research Organization (ILZRO) were the main companies that pioneered the ZA alloys between the 1950s and the 1970s. They were designed to compete with bronze, cast iron and aluminium using sand and permanent mold casting methods. Distinguishing features of ZA alloys include high as-cast strength, excellent bearing properties, as well as low energy requirements (for melting).

ZA alloys make good bearings because their final composition includes hard eutectic zinc-aluminium-copper particles embedded in a softer zinc-aluminium matrix. The hard particles provide a low-friction bearing surface, while the softer material wears back to provide space for lubricant to flow, similar to Babbitt metal.[citation needed]

The numbers associated with the name represent the amount of aluminium in the alloy (i.e. ZA8 has 8% aluminium).


Spelter, while sometimes used merely as a synonym for zinc, is often used to identify a zinc alloy. In this sense it might be an alloy of equal parts copper and zinc, i.e. a brass, used for hard soldering and brazing, or as an alloy, containing lead, that is used instead of bronze. In this usage it was common for many 19th-century cheap, cast articles such as candlesticks and clock cases and early 20th-century Art Nouveau ornaments and Art Deco figures.

Early twentieth-century Art Nouveau and Art Deco figures and lamps were often made of spelter. The metal has been used since about the 1860s to make statues, tablewares, and lamps that resemble bronze. Spelter is soft and breaks easily. To test for spelter, scratch the base of the piece. Bronze will appear as bright yellow while spelter will show a silvery scratch.

The word "pewter" is thought to be derived from the word "spelter". Zinc ingots formed by smelting might also be termed spelter.




Ferrocerium is a synthetic pyrophoric alloy that produces hot sparks that can reach temperatures of 3,000 °C (5,430 °F) when rapidly oxidized by the process of striking. This property allows it to have many commercial applications, such as the ignition source for lighters (often misidentified as the "flint" component), strikers for gas welding and cutting torches, deoxidization in metallurgy, and ferrocerium rods (also called ferro rods, flint-and-steel, and flint-spark-lighters). Due to ferrocerium's ability to ignite in adverse conditions, rods of ferrocerium are commonly used as an emergency combustion device in survival kits.

Invented in 1903 by the Austrian chemist Carl Auer von Welsbach, ferrocerium takes its name from its two primary components: iron (from Latin: ferrum), and the rare earth element cerium. The pyrophoric effect is dependent on the brittleness of the alloy and its low autoignition temperature.

While ferrocerium-and-steels function in a similar way to natural flint-and-steel in fire starting, ferrocerium takes on the role that steel played in traditional methods: when small shavings of it are removed quickly enough the heat generated by friction is enough to ignite those shavings, converting the metal to the oxide, i.e., the sparks are tiny pieces of burning metal. The sparking is due to cerium's low ignition temperature of between 150 and 180 °C (302 and 356 °F). About 700 tons were produced in 2000.


Ferrochrome (FeCr) is an alloy of chromium and iron containing 50% to 70% chromium by weight. Ferrochrome is produced by electric arc carbothermic reduction of chromite.

Wood's metal[]


Electrum\electram (alloyed metal)[]




Electrical resistance wire[]


Resistance wire is wire intended for making electrical resistors (which are used to control the amount of current in a circuit). It is better if the alloy used has a high resistivity, since a shorter wire can then be used. In many situations, the stability of the resistor is of primary importance, and thus the alloy's temperature coefficient of resistivity and corrosion resistance play a large part in material selection.

When resistance wire is used for heating elements (in electric heaters, toasters, and the like), high resistivity and oxidation resistance is important.

Sometimes resistance wire is insulated by ceramic powder and sheathed in a tube of another alloy. Such heating elements are used in electric ovens and water heaters, and in specialized forms for cooktops.


Nichrome, a non-magnetic 80/20 alloy of nickel and chromium, is the most common resistance wire for heating purposes because it has a high resistivity and resistance to oxidation at high temperatures. When used as a heating element, resistance wire is usually wound into coils. One difficulty in using nichrome wire is that common tin-based electrical solder will not bond with it, so the connections to the electrical power must be made using other methods such as crimp connectors or screw terminals.

Kanthal (Alloy 875/815), a family of iron-chromium-aluminium (FeCrAl) alloys used in a wide range of high-temperature applications.

Constantan [Cu55Ni45] has a low temperature coefficient of resistivity and as a copper alloy, is easily soldered. Other constant-resistance alloys include manganin [Cu86Mn12Ni2], Cupron [Cu53Ni44Mn3] and Evanohm.

The Evanohm family of nickel-chrome alloys [Ni72Cr20Mn4Al3Si1], [Ni73Cr20Cu2Al2Mn1Si], have high resistance, low temperature coefficient of resistance, low electromotive force (Galvani potential) when in contact with copper, high tensile strength, and also are very stable with regards to heat treatment.

Balco [Ni70Fe30] and similar alloys have very high, but more linear, temperature coefficient of resistivity, making them suitable for sensing elements.

Many elements and alloys have been used as resistance wire for special purposes. The table below lists the resistivity of some common materials. The resistivity of amorphous carbon actually has a range of 3.8 - 4.1 × 10−6 Ω m.




Kanthal resistance wire. Author: MAx 92.

Kanthal is the trademark for a family of iron-chromium-aluminium (FeCrAl) alloys used in a wide range of resistance and high-temperature applications. Kanthal FeCrAl alloys consist of mainly iron, chromium (20–30%) and aluminium (4–7.5 %). The first Kanthal FeCrAl alloy was developed by Hans von Kantzow in Hallstahammar, Sweden. The alloys are known for their ability to withstand high temperatures and having intermediate electric resistance. As such, it is frequently used in heating elements. The trademark Kanthal is owned by Sandvik Intellectual Property AB.


For heating, resistance wire must be stable in air when hot. Kanthal FeCrAl alloy forms a protective layer of aluminum oxide (alumina). Aluminium oxide is an electrical insulator but has a relatively high thermal conductivity; special techniques may be required to make good electrical connections.

Ordinary Kanthal FeCrAl alloy has a melting point of 1,500 °C (2,730 °F). Special grades can be used as high as 1,425 °C (2,597 °F).

Uses []

Kanthal is used in heating elements due to its flexibility, durability and tensile strength. Its uses are widespread, with it being used in toasters, home and industrial heaters and diffusion heaters (used in the making of crystalline silicon). Recently, Kanthal has been used in electronic cigarettes as a heating coil. Unlike alternative types of metal such as Nichrome, Kanthal is durable enough to withstand the temperatures needed, but flexible and cheap enough to be practical.

Kanthal comes in standardised Wire gauge|gauging, with higher numbers being thinner and lower being thicker.


Nichrome (NiCr, nickel-chrome, chrome-nickel, etc.) are alloys of nickel, chromium, and often iron (and possibly other elements). The most common usage is as resistance wire, though they are also used in some dental restorations (fillings) and in a few other applications.


Patented in 1905, Nichrome is the oldest documented form of resistance heating alloy. A common Nichrome alloy is 80% nickel and 20% chromium, by mass, but there are many other combinations of metals for various applications. Nichrome is consistently silvery-grey in colour, is corrosion-resistant, and has a high melting point of about 1,400 °C (2,550 °F). Due to its low cost of manufacture, strength, ductility, resistance to oxidation and stability at high temperatures, as well as its resistance to the flow of electrons, Nichrome is widely used in electric heating elements such as in hair dryers and heat guns. Typically, nichrome is wound in coils to a certain electrical resistance, and when current is passed through it the joule heating produces heat.


Almost any conductive wire can be used for heating, but most metals conduct electricity with great efficiency, requiring them to be formed into very thin/ delicate wires in order to create enough resistance to generate heat. Once heated, most metals then oxidize quickly, become brittle, and break when heated in air. When heated to red hot temperatures, nichrome wire, however, develops an outer layer of chromium oxide, thermodynamically stable in air, mostly impervious to oxygen, and protects the heating element from further oxidation.

Nichrome is used in the explosives and fireworks industry as a bridgewire in electric ignition systems, such as electric matches and model rocket igniters.

Industrial and hobby hot-wire foam cutters use nichrome wire.

Nichrome wire is commonly used in ceramic as an internal support structure to help some elements of clay sculptures hold their shape while they are still soft. Nichrome wire is used for its ability to withstand the high temperatures that occur when clay work is fired in a kiln.

Nichrome wire can be used as an alternative to platinum wire for flame testing by colouring the non-luminous part of a flame to detect cations such as sodium, potassium, copper, calcium etc.

Other areas of usage include motorcycle mufflers, in certain areas in the microbiological lab apparatus, as the heating element of plastic extruders by the RepRap 3D printing community, in the solar panel deployment mechanism of spacecraft LightSail-A, as the heating coils of electronic cigarettes.

The alloy price is controlled by the relatively more-expensive nickel content. Distributor pricing is typically indexed to market prices for nickel.

NiCrA stats[]

  1. Chemical Composition: 80% Ni, 20% Cr
  2. Approx. Melting Point: 1400°C

NiCrC stats[]

  1. Chemical Composition: 61% Ni, 15% Cr, 24% Fe
  2. Approx. Melting Point: 1350°C



Constantan is a copper–nickel alloy also known as Eureka, Advance, and Ferry. It usually consists of 55% copper and 45% nickel. Its main feature is its resistivity, which is constant over a wide range of temperatures. Other alloys with similarly low temperature coefficients are known, such as manganin (Cu86Mn12Ni2).


In 1887, Edward Weston discovered that metals can have a negative temperature coefficient of resistance, inventing what he called his "Alloy No. 2." It was produced in Germany where it was renamed "constantan".


Of all modern strain gauge alloys, constantan is the oldest, and still the most widely used. It has other similar uses these days.

The electric resistance levels of various metals[]

Material Resistivity



(10−6 ohm-cm)

Aluminum 15.94 2.650
Brass 42.1 7.0
Carbon (amorphous) 23 3.95
Constantan 272.97 45.38
Copper 10.09 1.678
Iron 57.81 9.61
Manganin 290 48.21
Molybdenum 32.12 5.34
Nichrome 675 112.2
Nichrome V 650 108.1
Nickel 41.69 6.93
Platinum 63.16 10.5
Stainless steel (304) 541 90
Steel (0.5% carbon) 100 16.62
Zinc 35.49 5.90

Common Alloy Trade Names[]

MWS Wire Ind. Carpenter Tech. Driver-Harris Harrison Hoskins Jelliff Kanthal
MWS-875 Alchrome 875 - HAI-FeCr AI 25 Alloy 875 - Kanthal A-1
MWS-800 Evanohm Karma HAI-431 Chromel R Alloy 800 Nikrothal L
MWS-675 Tophet C Nichrome HAI-NiCr 60 Chromel C Alloy C Nikrothal 6
MWS-650 Tophet A Nichrome V HAI-NiCr 80 Chromel A Alloy A Nikrothal 8
MWS-294 Cupron Advance HAI-CuNi 102 Copel Alloy 45 Cuprothal 294
MWS-180 180 Alloy Midohm HAI-180 Alloy 380 Alloy 180 Cuprothal 180
MWS-120 Balco Hytemco HAI-380 - Alloy 120 -
MWS-90 90 Alloy #95 Alloy HAI-90 Alloy 290 Alloy 90 Cuprothal 90
MWS-60 60 Alloy Lohm HAI-60 Alloy 260 Alloy 60 Cuprothal 60
MWS-30 30 Alloy #30 Alloy HAI-30 Alloy 230 Alloy 30 Cuprothal 30


A soldered joint used to attach a wire to the pin of a component on the rear of a printed circuit board. Author: MJN123.

Spool of solder. 1.6 mm.

Desoldering a contact from a wire


Solder (/ˈsoʊldər/,/ˈsɒldər/ or in North America /ˈsɒdər/) is a fusible metal alloy used to create a permanent bond between metal workpieces. The word solder comes from the Middle English word soudur, via Old French solduree and soulder, from the Latin solidare, meaning "to make solid". In fact, solder must be melted in order to adhere to and connect the pieces together, so a suitable alloy for use as solder will have a lower melting point than the pieces it is intended to join. Whenever possible, the solder should also be resistant to oxidative and corrosive effects that would degrade the joint over time. Solder that is intended for use in making electrical connections between electronic components also usually has favorable electrical characteristics.

Soft solder typically has a melting point range of 90 to 450 °C (190 to 840 °F; 360 to 720 K), and is commonly used in electronics, plumbing, and sheet metal work. Manual soldering uses a soldering iron or soldering gun. Alloys that melt between 180 and 190 °C (360 and 370 °F; 450 and 460 K) are the most commonly used. Soldering performed using alloys with a melting point above 450 °C (840 °F; 720 K) is called 'hard soldering', 'silver soldering', or brazing.

In specific proportions, some alloys can become eutectic — that is, their melting point is the same as their freezing point. Non-eutectic alloys have markedly different solidus and liquidus temperatures, and within that range they exist as a paste of solid particles in a melt of the lower-melting phase. In electrical work, if the joint is disturbed in the pasty state before it has solidified totally, a poor electrical connection may result; use of eutectic solder reduces this problem. The pasty state of a non-eutectic solder can be exploited in plumbing as it allows molding of the solder during cooling, e.g. for ensuring watertight joint of pipes, resulting in a so-called 'wiped joint'.

For electrical and electronics work, solder wire is available in a range of thicknesses for hand-soldering, and with cores containing flux. It is also available as a paste or as a preformed foil shaped to match the workpiece, more suitable for mechanized mass-production. Alloys of lead and tin were commonly used in the past, and are still available; they are particularly convenient for hand-soldering. Lead-free solders have been increasing in use due to regulatory requirements plus the health and environmental benefits of avoiding lead-based electronic components. They are almost exclusively used today in consumer electronics. 

Plumbers often use bars of solder, much thicker than the wire used for electrical applications. Jewelers often use solder in thin sheets, which they cut into snippets.


Soldering (AmE: /ˈsɒdərɪŋ/, BrE: /ˈsɒldərɪŋ/), is a process in which two or more items (usually metal) are joined together by melting and putting a filler metal (solder) into the joint, the filler metal having a lower melting point than the adjoining metal. Soldering differs from welding in that soldering does not involve melting the work pieces. In brazing, the filler metal melts at a higher temperature, but the work piece metal does not melt. In the past, nearly all solders contained lead, but environmental and health concerns have increasingly dictated use of lead-free alloys for electronics and plumbing purposes.

There is evidence that soldering was employed as early as 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia. Soldering and brazing are thought to have originated very early in the history of metal-working, probably before 4,000 BC. Sumerian swords from ~3,000 BC were assembled using hard soldering.

Soldering was historically used to make jewelry items, cooking ware and tools, as well as other uses such as in assembling stained glass.

Soldering is used in plumbing, electronics, and metalwork from flashing to jewelry.

Soldering provides reasonably permanent but reversible connections between copper pipes in plumbing systems as well as joints in sheet metal objects such as food cans, roof flashing, rain gutters and automobile radiators.

Jewelry components, machine tools and some refrigeration and plumbing components are often assembled and repaired by the higher temperature silver soldering process. Small mechanical parts are often soldered or brazed as well. Soldering is also used to join lead came and copper foil in stained glass work.

Electronic soldering connects electrical wiring and electronic components to printed circuit boards (PCBs).

Types of solder[]

On July 1, 2006 the European Union Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) and Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) came into effect prohibiting the inclusion of significant quantities of lead in most consumer electronics produced in the EU. In the US, manufacturers may receive tax benefits by reducing the use of lead-based solder. Lead-free solders in commercial use may contain tin, copper, silver, bismuth, indium, zinc, antimony, and traces of other metals. Most lead-free replacements for conventional 60/40 and 63/37 Sn-Pb solder have melting points from 5 to 20 °C higher, though there are also solders with much lower melting points.

It may be desirable to use minor modification of the solder pots (e.g. titanium liners or impellers) used in wave-soldering, to reduce maintenance cost due to increased tin-scavenging of high-tin solder.

Lead-free solder may be less desirable for critical applications, such as aerospace and medical projects, because its properties are less thoroughly known.

Tin-Silver-Copper (Sn-Ag-Cu, or "SAC") solders are used by two-thirds of Japanese manufacturers for reflow and wave soldering, and by about 75% of companies for hand soldering. The widespread use of this popular lead-free solder alloy family is based on the reduced melting point of the Sn-Ag-Cu ternary eutectic behavior (217 ˚C), which is below the 22/78 Sn-Ag (wt.%) eutectic of 221 °C and the 59/41 Sn-Cu eutectic of 227 °C (recently revised by P. Snugovsky to 53/47 Sn-Cu). The ternary eutectic behavior of Sn-Ag-Cu and its application for electronics assembly was discovered (and patented) by a team of researchers from Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, and from Sandia National Laboratories-Albuquerque.

Much recent research has focused on selection of 4th element additions to Sn-Ag-Cu to provide compatibility for the reduced cooling rate of solder sphere reflow for assembly of ball grid arrays, e.g., 18/64/14/4 Tin-Silver-Copper-Zinc (Sn-Ag-Cu-Zn) (melting range of 217–220 ˚C) and 18/64/16/2 Tin-Silver-Copper-Manganese (Sn-Ag-Cu-Mn) (melting range of 211–215 ˚C).

Tin-based solders readily dissolve gold, forming brittle intermetallics; for Sn-Pb alloys the critical concentration of gold to embrittle the joint is about 4%. Indium-rich solders (usually indium-lead) are more suitable for soldering thicker gold layer as the dissolution rate of gold in indium is much slower. Tin-rich solders also readily dissolve silver; for soldering silver metallization or surfaces, alloys with addition of silvers are suitable; tin-free alloys are also a choice, though their wettability is poorer. If the soldering time is long enough to form the intermetallics, the tin surface of a joint soldered to gold is very dull.

Soldering filler materials are available in many different alloys for differing applications. In electronics assembly, the eutectic alloy of 63% tin and 37% lead (or 60/40, which is almost identical in melting point) has been the alloy of choice. Other alloys are used for plumbing, mechanical assembly, and other applications. Some examples of soft-solder are tin-lead for general purposes, tin-zinc for joining aluminium, lead-silver for strength at higher than room temperature, cadmium-silver for strength at high temperatures, zinc-aluminium for aluminium and corrosion resistance, and tin-silver and tin-bismuth for electronics.

A eutectic formulation has advantages when applied to soldering: the liquidus and solidus temperatures are the same, so there is no plastic phase, and it has the lowest possible melting point. Having the lowest possible melting point minimizes heat stress on electronic components during soldering. And, having no plastic phase allows for quicker wetting as the solder heats up, and quicker setup as the solder cools. A non-eutectic formulation must remain still as the temperature drops through the liquidus and solidus temperatures. Any movement during the plastic phase may result in cracks, resulting in an unreliable joint.

Common solder formulations based on tin and lead are listed below. The fraction represent percentage of tin first, then lead, totaling 100%:

63/37: melts at 183 °C (361 °F) (eutectic: the only mixture that melts at a point, instead of over a range).
60/40: melts between 183–190 °C (361–374 °F).
50/50: melts between 183–215 °C (361–419 °F).

For environmental reasons (and the introduction of regulations such as the European RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive)), lead-free solders are becoming more widely used. They are also suggested anywhere young children may come into contact with (since young children are likely to place things into their mouths), or for outdoor use where rain and other precipitation may wash the lead into the groundwater. Unfortunately, most lead-free solders are not eutectic formulations, melting at around 250 °C (482 °F), making it more difficult to create reliable joints with them.

Other common solders include low-temperature formulations (often containing bismuth), which are often used to join previously-soldered assemblies without un-soldering earlier connections, and high-temperature formulations (usually containing silver) which are used for high-temperature operation or for first assembly of items which must not become unsoldered during subsequent operations. Alloying silver with other metals changes the melting point, adhesion and wetting characteristics, and tensile strength. Of all the brazing alloys, silver solders have the greatest strength and the broadest applications. Specialty alloys are available with properties such as higher strength, the ability to solder aluminum, better electrical conductivity, and higher corrosion resistance.

Flux is a reducing agent designed to help reduce (return oxidized metals to their metallic state) metal oxides at the points of contact to improve the electrical connection and mechanical strength. The two principal types of flux are acid flux (sometimes called "active flux"), used for metal mending and plumbing, and rosin flux (sometimes called "passive flux"), used in electronics, where the corrosiveness of the vapors released when acid flux is heated would risk damaging delicate circuitry.

Due to concerns over atmospheric pollution and hazardous waste disposal, the electronics industry has been gradually shifting from rosin flux to water-soluble flux, which can be removed with deionized water and detergent, instead of hydrocarbon solvents.

In contrast to using traditional bars or coiled wires of all-metal solder and manually applying flux to the parts being joined, much hand soldering since the mid-20th century has used flux-core solder. This is manufactured as a coiled wire of solder, with one or more continuous bodies of non-acid flux embedded lengthwise inside it. As the solder melts onto the joint, it frees the flux and releases that on it as well.

Hard solders are used for brazing, and melt at higher temperatures. Alloys of copper with either zinc or silver are the most common.

In silversmithing or jewelry making, special hard solders are used that will pass assay. They contain a high proportion of the metal being soldered and lead is not used in these alloys. These solders vary in hardness, designated as "enameling", "hard", "medium" and "easy". Enameling solder has a high melting point, close to that of the material itself, to prevent the joint desoldering during firing in the enameling process. The remaining solder types are used in decreasing order of hardness during the process of making an item, to prevent a previously soldered seam or joint desoldering while additional sites are soldered. Easy solder is also often used for repair work for the same reason. Flux or rouge is also used to prevent joints from desoldering.

Silver solder is also used in manufacturing to join metal parts that cannot be welded. The alloys used for these purposes contain a high proportion of silver (up to 40%), and may also contain cadmium.


Dental amalgam[]

Amalgam filling on first molar. Author: Kauzio.

Dental amalgam is a liquid mercury and metal alloy mixture used to fill cavities caused by tooth decay. Low-copper amalgam commonly consists of mercury (40-50%), silver (~22–32%), tin (~14%), copper (~8%), Zinc (~6-0%) and other trace metals like molybdenum and lead.

Dental amalgams were first documented in a Tang Dynasty Chinese medical text written by Su Kung in 659, and appeared in Germany in 1528. In the 1800s, amalgam became the dental restorative material of choice due to its low cost, ease of application, strength, and durability.

Although the mercury in cured amalgam is not available as free mercury, concern of its toxicity has existed since the invention of amalgam as a dental material. It is banned or restricted in Norway, Sweden and Finland. See Dental Amalgam Controversy.

Arquerite, a natural amalgam of silver and mercury[]

Arquerite is a natural amalgam of silver and mercury. Attribution: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0.

Arquerite is a naturally occurring alloy of silver with mercury. It is a very rare mineral, consisting of a silver-rich variety of amalgam, containing about 87% silver and 13% mercury. Arquerite has been reported from only four localities worldwide, two are in Chile and the other two are in British Columbia, Canada. Other names for arquerite include, argental mercury, mercurian silver, and silver amalgam.

Zinc amalgam[]


Potassium amalgam[]


Sodium amalgam[]


Aluminium amalgam[]


Tin amalgam[]


Gold-mercury amalgam[]


Copper-mercury amalgam (Viennese metal cement)[]


Other amalgams[]


Depleted uranium[]




Tungsten carbide (chemical formula: WC)[]

Tungsten carbide drill and end mills.


Tungsten carbide (chemical formula: WC) is a chemical compound (specifically, a carbide) containing equal parts of tungsten and carbon atoms. In its most basic form, tungsten carbide is a fine gray powder, but it can be pressed and formed into shapes for use in industrial machinery, cutting tools, abrasives, armor-piercing rounds, other tools and instruments, and jewelry.

Historically referred to as Wolfram, Wolf Rahm, wolframite ore discovered by Peter Woulfe was then later carburized and cemented with a binder creating a composite now called "cemented tungsten carbide". Tungsten is Swedish for "heavy stone".

Colloquially among workers in various industries (such as machining and carpentry), tungsten carbide is often simply called carbide, despite the inaccuracy of the usage. Among the lay public, the growing popularity of tungsten carbide rings has also led to consumers calling the material tungsten.

Metallurgical proprieties[]

Tungsten carbide is approximately two times stiffer than steel, with a Young's modulus of approximately 530–700 GPa (77,000 to 102,000 ksi), and is double the density of steel—nearly midway between that of lead and gold. It is comparable with corundum (α-Al 2O3) in hardness and can only be polished and finished with abrasives of superior hardness such as cubic boron nitride and diamond powder, wheels, and compounds.

  1. Extremely hard and long lasting.
  2. Will never scratch.
  3. Cobalt free tough steel.
  4. Will never loose it's polish.
  5. Hypo-allergenic.
  6. Non tarnishing.
  7. Can handle high torsion stress.
  8. Can handle high friction forces.


  1. Cutting tools for machining
  2. Ammunition
  3. Mining
  4. Nuclear
  5. Sports
  6. Surgical instruments
  7. Jewelry
  8. The rotating ball in the tips of ballpoint pens that disperse ink during writing.
  9. Gauge blocks, used as a system for producing precision lengths in dimensional metrology.
  10. English guitarist Martin Simpson is known to use a custom-made tungsten carbide guitar slide. The hardness, weight, and density of the slide give it superior sustain and volume compared to standard glass, steel, ceramic, or brass slides.
  11. Tungsten carbide has been investigated for its potential use as a catalyst and it has been found to resemble platinum in its catalysis of the production of water from hydrogen and oxygen at room temperature, the reduction of tungsten trioxide by hydrogen in the presence of water, and the isomerisation of 2,2-dimethylpropane to 2-methylbutane. It has been proposed as a replacement for the iridium catalyst in hydrazine-powered satellite thrusters.


The primary health risks associated with carbide relate to inhalation of dust, leading to fibrosis. Cobalt–cemented tungsten carbide is also reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program.


Steel (true steel)[]

A spool of wire rope made from steel, which is a metal alloy whose major component is iron, with carbon content between 0.02% and 2.14% by mass. Attribution: I, Johannes 'volty' Hemmerlein.

The base metal iron of the iron-carbon alloy known as steel, undergoes a change in the arrangement (allotropy) of the atoms of its crystal matrix at a certain temperature (usually between 1,500 °F (820 °C) and 1,600 °F (870 °C), depending on carbon content). This allows the smaller carbon atoms to enter the interstices of the iron crystal. When this diffusion happens, the carbon atoms are said to be in solution in the iron, forming a particular single, homogeneous, crystalline phase called austenite. If the steel is cooled slowly, the carbon can diffuse out of the iron and it will gradually revert to its low temperature allotrope. During slow cooling, the carbon atoms will no longer be as soluble with the iron, and will be forced to precipitate out of solution, nucleating into a more concentrated form of iron carbide (Fe3C) in the spaces between the pure iron crystals. The steel then becomes heterogeneous, as it is formed of two phases, the iron-carbon phase called cementite (or carbide), and pure iron ferrite. Such a heat treatment produces a steel that is rather soft. If the steel is cooled quickly, however, the carbon atoms will not have time to diffuse and precipitate out as carbide, but will be trapped within the iron crystals. When rapidly cooled, a diffusionless (martensite) transformation occurs, in which the carbon atoms become trapped in solution. This causes the iron crystals to deform as the crystal structure tries to change to its low temperature state, leaving those crystals very hard but much less ductile (more brittle).

While the high strength of steel results when diffusion and precipitation is prevented (forming martinsite), most heat-treatable alloys are precipitation hardening alloys, that depend on the diffusion of alloying elements to achieve their strength. When heated to form a solution and then cooled quickly, these alloys become much softer than normal, during the diffusionless transformation, but then harden as they age. The solutes in these alloys will precipitate over time, forming intermetallic phases, which are difficult to discern from the base metal. Unlike steel, in which the solid solution separates into different crystal phases (carbide and ferrite), precipitation hardening alloys form different phases within the same crystal. These intermetallic alloys appear homogeneous in crystal structure, but tend to behave heterogeneously, becoming hard and somewhat brittle.

A miniscule amount of nickel, aluminium, chrome, vandium, manganese and copper can me added to steel to inprove properties like tensile streng and corrosion resistance. 



Vanadium steel[]


Manganese steel[]


Stainless steel[]


Surgical (stainless) steel and cutlery stainless steel[]

Surgical stainless steel is an informal term which refers to certain grades of stainless steel that are used in biomedical applications. The most common "surgical steels" are austenitic 316 stainless and martensitic 440 and 420 stainless steels. There is no formal definition on what constitutes a "surgical stainless steel", so product manufacturers and distributors apply the term to refer to any grade of corrosion resistant steel.

316 stainless steel, also referred to as marine grade stainless steel, is a chromium, nickel, molybdenum alloy of steel that exhibits relatively good strength and corrosion resistance. Along with the titanium alloy Ti6Al4V, 316 stainless is a common choice of material for biomedical implants. Although Ti6Al4V provides greater strength per weight and corrosion resistance, 316 stainless components can be more economical to produce. However, immune system reaction to nickel is a potential complication of 316. Implants and equipment that are put under pressure (bone fixation screws, prostheses, body piercing jewelry) are made out of austenitic steel, often 316L and 316LVM compliant to ASTM F138. 316 surgical steel is used in the manufacture and handling of food and pharmaceutical products where it is often required in order to minimize metallic contamination. ASTM F138 -compliant steel is also used in the manufacture of body piercing jewellery and body modification implants.

440 and 420 stainless steels, known also by the name "Cutlery Stainless Steel", are high carbon steels alloyed with chromium. They have very good corrosion resistance compared to other cutlery steels, but their corrosion resistance is inferior to 316 stainless. Biomedical cutting instruments are often made from 440 or 420 stainless due to its high hardness coupled with acceptable corrosion resistance. This type of stainless steel may be slightly magnetic.

Aviation steel[]


Titanium steel[]


White metals[]

White metals[]

The white metals are any of several light-colored alloys used as a base for plated silverware, ornaments or novelties, as well as any of several lead-based or tin-based alloys used for things like bearings, jewellery, miniature figures, fusible plugs, some medals and metal type.

A white metal alloy may include antimony, tin, lead, cadmium, bismuth, and zinc (some of which are quite toxic). Not all of these metals are found in all white metal alloys. Metals are mixed to achieve a desired goal or need. As an example, a base metal for jewellery needs to be castable, polishable, have good flow characteristics, have the ability to cast fine detail without an excessive amount of porosity and cast at between 230 °C and 300 °C (450 °F and 575 °F).

In compliance with British law, the British fine art trade uses the term "white metal" in auction catalogues to describe foreign silver items which do not carry British Assay Office marks, but which are nonetheless understood to be silver and are priced accordingly.

During cooling white metal shrinks 5mm/m

Tin-lead and tin-copper alloys[]

Tin-lead and tin-copper alloys such as Babbitt meta have a low melting point that is ideal for use as solder, but these alloys also have ideal characteristics for plain bearings. Most importantly for bearings, the material should be hard and wear-resistant and have a low coefficient of friction. It must also be shock-resistant, tough and sufficiently ductile to allow for slight misalignment prior to running-in.

Pure metals are soft, tough and ductile with a high coefficient of friction. Intermetallic compounds are hard and wear-resistant but brittle. By themselves, these do not make ideal bearing materials.

Alloys consist of small particles of a hard compound embedded in the tough, ductile background of a solid solution. In service the latter can wear away slightly leaving the hard compound to carry the load. This wear also provides channels to allow in lubricant (oils). All bearing metals contain antimony (Sb) which forms hard cubic crystals.

Tin\Sn Antimony\Sb Copper\Cu Lead\Pb Applications
93 3.5 3.5 Light and medium IC engine big end bearings
86 10.5 3.5 Light and medium IC engine main bearings
80 11 3.0 6 General purpose heavy bearings (lead increases plasticity)
60 10 28.5 1.5 Heavy duty marine engine bearings, electrical machines
40 10 1.5 48.5 Low cost, general purpose, medium duty bearings

Pot metal[]

Pot metal—also known as monkey metal, white metal, or die-cast zinc—is a colloquial term that refers to alloys of low-melting point metals that manufacturers use to make fast, inexpensive castings. The term "pot metal" came about due to the practice at automobile factories in the early 20th century of gathering up non-ferrous metal scraps from the manufacturing processes and melting them in one pot to form into cast products. A small amount of iron usually made it into the castings, but too much iron raised the melting point, so it was minimized.


There is no metallurgical standard for pot metal. Common metals in pot metal include zinc, lead, copper, tin, magnesium, aluminium, iron, and cadmium. The primary advantage of pot metal is that it is quick and easy to cast. Because of its low melting temperature, it requires no sophisticated foundry equipment or specialized molds. Manufacturers sometimes use it to experiment with molds and ideas (e.g., prototypes) before casting final products in a higher quality alloy.

Depending on the exact metals "thrown into the pot," pot metal can become unstable over time, as it has a tendency to bend, distort, crack, shatter, and pit with age. The low boiling point of zinc and fast cooling of newly cast parts often trap air bubbles within the cast part, weakening it. Many components common in pot metal are susceptible to corrosion from airborne acids and other contaminants, and internal corrosion of the metal often causes decorative plating to flake off. Pot metal is not easily glued, soldered, or welded.

In the late nineteenth century, pot metal referred specifically to a copper alloy that was primarily alloyed with lead. Mixtures of 67% copper with 29% lead and 4% antimony and another one of 80% copper with 20% lead were common formulations.

The primary component of pot metal is zinc, but often the caster adds other metals to the mix to strengthen the cast part, improve flow of the molten metal, or to reduce cost. With a low melting point of 419 °C (786 °F), zinc is often alloyed with other metals including lead, tin, aluminium, and copper.


Pot metal is generally used for parts that are not subject to high stresses or torque. Items created from pot metal include toys, furniture fittings, tool parts, electronics components, automotive parts, inexpensive jewelry and improvised weaponry. It is also used in inexpensive electric guitars and other budget priced musical instruments.

Babbit aloy[]

Microstructure of babbitt. Author:Edward Pleshakov.

Pigs and bars of Grade #2 Babbitt. Author: WillisPThomas.

Babbitt, also called Babbitt metal, Babbit aloy or bearing metal, is any of several alloys used for the bearing surface in a plain bearing.

The original Babbitt alloy was invented in 1839 by Isaac Babbitt in Taunton, Massachusetts, United States. He disclosed one of his alloy recipes but kept others as trade secrets. Other formulations were later developed. Like other terms whose eponymous origin is long since deemphasized (such as diesel engine or eustachian tube), the term babbitt metal is frequently styled in lowercase. It is preferred over the term "white metal", because the latter term may refer to various bearing alloys, lead- or tin-based alloys, or zinc die-casting metal.

Babbitt metal is most commonly used as a thin surface layer in a complex, multi-metal structure, but its original use was as a cast-in-place bulk bearing material. Babbitt metal is characterized by its resistance to galling. Babbitt metal is soft and easily damaged, which suggests that it might be unsuitable for a bearing surface. However, its structure is made up of small hard crystals dispersed in a softer metal, which makes it a metal matrix composite. As the bearing wears, the softer metal erodes somewhat, which creates paths for lubricant between the hard high spots that provide the actual bearing surface. When tin is used as the softer metal, friction causes the tin to melt and function as a lubricant, which protects the bearing from wear when other lubricants are absent.

Internal combustion engines use Babbitt metal which is primarily tin-based because it can withstand cyclic loading. Lead-based Babbitt tends to work-harden and develop cracks but it is suitable for constant-turning tools such as sawblades.


Jewelers' gold[]


"Red gold"[]


"White gold"[]


Crown gold[]














How it is done[]


Also see[]

  1. Nickel
  2. Useful metals
  3. Thoriated magnesium (AKA- Mag-Thor)
  4. Minerals and fuel in central Africa
  5. Mineral mining, smelting and shipping videos
  6. What is 'galvanizing'
  7. Hastelloy/Haynes International
  8. Minerals and fuel in central Africa
  9. Mineral mining, smelting, processing and shipping videos!
  10. Today's OTL types of economies, societies and regimes


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