Metals are made from ores which are extracted from the earth.
Most ferrous metals contain a material called carbon. The carbon content ranges from 0.1% to 4%. The higher the carbon content, the harder the metal.
Most ferrous metals will rust and almost all ferrous metals can be picked up with a magnet.
Low Carbon Steel
Carbon content: 0.1% – 0.3% (Low carbon steel with 0.15% to 0.3% carbon is sometimes called mild steel.)
Properties: quite strong; most common type of steel used today; produced in many different forms including sheets, bars and tubes
Uses: nuts, bolts, rivets, food cans, car body panels, in construction industry
Carbon content: 0.3% – 0.7%
Properties: tougher than low carbon steel; can be treated with heat to alter its hardness
Uses: nails, screws, metal chains, wire ropes, screwdriver blades, some engine parts and bicycle wheel rims
Carbon content: 0.7% – 1.3% (sometimes called tool steel)
Properties: very hard, but brittle; can be treated by heat to alter its properties
Uses: files, chisels, hacksaw blades, drill bits, scribers, springs
Carbon content: 2% – 4%
Properties: very hard but brittle; suitable for casting because the molten form can be poured at a relatively low temperature
Uses: car engine blocks, manhole covers, engineer’s vices, bodies of various hand tools such as smoothing planes
Non-ferrous metals do not have iron in them. Therefore they do not rust and cannot be picked up by magnets.
Properties: second most widely used metal after steel; light, good conductor of electricity and heat; greyish-white; easy to cut and machine
Uses: display racks, cooking foil, drink cans, overhead power cables, casings and panels for electrical goods, road signs
Properties: reddish-brown; ductile, malleable; can be cut sawn, filed and machined easily; excellent conductor of heat and electricity
Uses: electrical fitting and wires, printed circuit boards, tips of soldering iron, domestic water pipes, cylinders, cooking utensils, decorative ornaments
Properties: silvery-white, non-toxic, soft; normally used by plating it onto other metals such as mild steel (tinplate)
Uses: food cans, plating on copper tracks of printed circuit boards
Properties: silvery-blue, does not corrode easily, ductile, not very strong
Uses: manufacture of other metals such as brass and galvanised iron, batteries, rust-proof paints
Properties: very heavy, but soft; appears bright and shiny bluish-grey when cut but surface changes quickly to a dull grey; toxic, resistant to corrosion and many chemicals
Uses: can be mixed with other materials to make them easier to machine; acts as a protection against x-rays and radiation, core of some batteries
Properties: greyish-white; made by mixing aluminium with copper and manganese; hard and tough
Uses: used in the transport industries for making body panels and machine parts, portable ladders, door and window frames
Properties: good conductor of heat and electricity, golden yellow alloy, easy to machine and solder, made by mixing copper and zinc
Uses: pins of electrical plugs, nuts, bolts, screws, hinges, some machine parts, musical instruments, decorative artifacts, locks, keys
Properties: made by mixing copper and tin; reddish-yellow, hard-wearing, corrosion resistant, easily machined
Uses: ship propellers, bells, gears, bearings, statues