There are lots of metals found naturally, each of which has specific properties. When these metals are combined, their properties are combined as well. This means that an alloy, which is a combination between two metals, can be stronger, more conductive, or otherwise more useful than what each individual element is. So what are some of the most common alloys that are used in parts manufacturing and other industries?
These alloys are used where low friction is required. The most popular copper alloy by far is brass, which is a combination of zinc and copper. Common applications include gears, bearings, locks, and valves. Brass can also be recycled, increasing its popularity.
Besides brass, there is bronze, which also includes tin. Bronze is popular in artwork, but also in bearings for vehicle transmissions, as well as window weather-stripping.
Aluminum alloys are incredibly important in the world of industry and manufacturing. In fact, they are probably the most popular alloys of all. One popular alloy is alnico, which is made up of aluminum, cobalt, and nickel. It is used in microphones, sensors, cow magnets, and electric motors. Another popular alloy is duralumin, which consists of aluminum, magnesium, manganese, and copper. This is often used in aircraft structures, car body panel sheets, truck wheels, pistons, forgings, and more. Magnalium is also commonly found and used in aircraft and automobile parts.
Iron is one of the world’s best known and most used metals. It is incredibly strong and durable, but is very susceptible to oxidization. This is why alloys such as stainless steel or regular steel are created. Steel is resistant to rust, while retaining the tensile strength as well as the welding ability of iron. Steel is used in skyscrapers, bridges, roads, and railways. Stainless steel is particularly well known and is used in vehicle and aircraft body parts, bridges, industrial equipment, surgical instruments, and jewelry.
Another popular type of iron alloy is that which is mixed with carbon. This includes wrought iron, which can be used in furniture construction (chairs, desks, tables, racks), and gate manufacturing for instance. There is also pig iron, which is used to create blast furnaces as it is very resistant to heat. Both can be used in cooking accessories such as pans, gears crankshafts, and a range of other machine tools.
Tin is also often used in alloys, with solder and pewter being the best known. Pewter is mainly a decorative metal, used in jewelry and art. Solder, by contrast, can be used to join (solder) different materials together and this is used in a range of different industrial settings. Then, there is Sterling silver, which is used to make musical and medical instruments, as well as jewelry. Lastly, there is nichrome, which is a nickel alloy. It is used mainly for resistance wires and electric ignition systems.
These are just some of the most popular alloys out there, and there are many more.