8 Common Metal Materials You Should Know

1. Cast iron

Sewer covers are an insignificant part of our daily living environment, and few people pay attention to them.

The reason why cast iron has such a large and wide range of applications is mainly because of its excellent fluidity and its easy pouring into various complex forms.

Cast iron is actually the name of a mixture of many elements, including carbon, silicon and iron.

The higher the carbon content, the better the flow characteristics during pouring. Here carbon appears in the form of graphite and iron carbide.

The existence of graphite in cast iron makes the sewer cover have excellent wear resistance.

Rust usually appears only on the surface, so it is usually polished.

Nevertheless, there are special measures to prevent rust during pouring, that is, a layer of asphalt coating is added to the surface of the casting, and the asphalt penetrates into the pores on the surface of the cast iron, so as to prevent rust.

Nowadays, the traditional casting materials are used by many designers in other fields.

Material characteristics: excellent fluidity, low cost, good wear resistance, low solidification shrinkage, very brittle, high compressive strength and good machinability.

Typical uses: cast iron has been used for hundreds of years, involving construction, bridges, engineering parts, home, kitchen utensils and other fields.

2. Stainless steel

Stainless steel is an alloy made of chromium, nickel and other metal elements.

Its non rusting characteristic is derived from the composition of chromium in the alloy.

Chromium forms a firm and self-healing chromium oxide film on the surface of the alloy, which is invisible to our naked eyes.

The ratio of stainless steel and nickel we usually mention is generally 18:10.

The term “stainless steel” refers not only to a kind of stainless steel, but to more than 100 kinds of industrial stainless steel.

Each kind of stainless steel developed has good performance in its specific application field.

In the early 20th century, many designers have been involved in the development of stainless steel products, which have never been involved in the field of corrosion resistance before.

This series of design attempts are very revolutionary.

For example, devices that can be reused after disinfection appear in the medical industry for the first time.

Stainless steel is divided into four main types: austenite, ferrite, ferrite austenite (composite) and martensite.

Stainless steel used in household products is basically austenitic.

Material characteristics: health care, anti-corrosion, fine surface treatment, high rigidity, can be formed through various processing processes, and it is difficult to carry out cold processing.

Typical use: among the commonly used primary color stainless steels, austenitic stainless steel is the most suitable coloring material, which can obtain satisfactory color appearance and shape.

Austenitic stainless steel is mainly used in decorative building materials, household goods, industrial pipelines and building structures;

Martensitic stainless steel is mainly used to make cutting tools and turbine blades;

Ferritic stainless steel has corrosion resistance and is mainly used in durable washing machines and boiler parts;

Composite stainless steel has stronger corrosion resistance, so it is often used in corrosive environment.

3. Zinc

Zinc, shining silver and slightly bluish gray, is the third most widely used non-ferrous metal after aluminum and copper.

According to the statistics of the US Bureau of mines, an ordinary person consumes a total of 331 kg of zinc in his life.

The melting point of zinc is very low, so it is also a very ideal pouring material.

Zinc castings are very common in our daily life: materials under the surface layer of door handle watch, faucets, electronic components, etc. zinc has high corrosion resistance, which makes it have another basic function, that is, as the surface coating material of steel.

In addition to these functions, zinc is also an alloy material for synthesizing brass with copper.

Its corrosion resistance is not just applied to steel coatings – it also helps strengthen our human immune system.

Material characteristics: health care, anti-corrosion, excellent castability, excellent anti-corrosion, high strength, high hardness, cheap raw materials, low melting point, creep resistance, easy to form alloys with other metals, health care, fragile at room temperature and ductility at about 100 ℃.

Typical use: electronic components.

Zinc is one of the alloy materials that form bronze. Zinc also has the characteristics of cleanliness and corrosion resistance.

In addition, zinc is also used in roof materials, photo engraving discs, mobile phone antennas and shutter devices in cameras.

4. Aluminum (AL)

Compared with gold, which has been used for 9000 years, aluminum, a white metal with a slight blue light, can only be regarded as a baby in metal materials.

Aluminum came out and was named in the early 18th century. Unlike other metal elements, aluminum does not exist in nature in the form of direct metal elements, but is extracted from bauxite containing 50% alumina (also known as bauxite).

Aluminum, which exists in minerals in this form, is also one of the most abundant metal elements on earth.

When aluminum first appeared, it was not immediately applied to people’s lives.

Later, a number of new products aiming at its unique functions and characteristics gradually came out, and this high-tech material gradually has a wider and wider market.

Although the application history of aluminum is relatively short, the output of aluminum products on the market has far exceeded that of other non-ferrous metal products combined.

Material characteristics: flexible and plastic, easy to make alloy, high strength to weight ratio, excellent corrosion resistance, easy to conduct electricity and heat, recyclable.

Typical uses: Vehicle skeleton, aircraft parts, kitchen utensils, packaging and furniture.

Aluminum is also often used to strengthen some large building structures, such as the statue of love in Piccadilly square in London and the top of Chrysler motor building in New York.

5. Magnesium alloy

Magnesium is a very important non-ferrous metal. It is lighter than aluminum and can form a high-strength alloy with other metals.

Magnesium alloy has the advantages of light specific gravity, high specific strength and specific stiffness, good thermal conductivity, good damping, shock absorption and electromagnetic shielding performance, easy processing and molding, easy recovery and so on.

However, for a long time, due to the high price and technical constraints, magnesium and magnesium alloys are only used in a small amount in aviation, aerospace and military industries, so they are called “noble metals”.

Nowadays, magnesium is the third largest metal engineering material after steel and aluminum. It is widely used in aerospace, automobile, electronics, mobile communication, metallurgy and other fields.

It can be expected that magnesium will become more important in the future due to the increase of production costs of other structural metals.

Magnesium alloy accounts for 68% of aluminum alloy, 27% of zinc alloy and 23% of steel. It is commonly used in automobile parts, 3C product shell, building materials, etc.

Most ultra-thin notebook computers and mobile phone shells are made of magnesium alloy.

Since the last century, human beings still have an indelible love for metal texture and luster. Although plastic products can form a metal like appearance, their luster, hardness, temperature and texture are still different from those of metals.

As a new type of metal raw material, magnesium alloy gives people the feeling of a high-tech product.

The corrosion resistance of magnesium alloy is 8 times that of carbon steel, 4 times that of aluminum alloy and more than 10 times that of plastic.

The corrosion resistance is the best among the alloys.

Commonly used magnesium alloys are nonflammable, especially when used in steam turbine parts and building materials, which can avoid instantaneous combustion.

The reserves of magnesium in the earth’s crust rank eighth.

Most of the magnesium raw materials are extracted from seawater, so its resources are stable and sufficient.

Material characteristics: lightweight structure, high rigidity and impact resistance, excellent corrosion resistance, good thermal conductivity and electromagnetic shielding, good non flammability, poor heat resistance and easy recovery.

Typical uses: widely used in aerospace, automobile, electronics, mobile communication, metallurgy and other fields.

6. Copper

Copper is an incredible versatile metal. It is so closely related to our lives.

Many of man’s early tools and weapons were made of copper.

Its Latin name “cuprum” originates from a place called Cyprus, which is an island rich in copper resources.

People use the abbreviation Cu of the island name to name this metal material, so copper has the current code name.

Copper plays a very important role in modern society: it is widely used in building structures as the carrier of power transmission.

In addition, it has been used as the raw material for making body decorations by people from many different cultural backgrounds for thousands of years.

From the initial simple decoding and transmission to the later key role in complex modern communication applications, this malleable and orange metal has accompanied our development and progress all the way.

Copper is an excellent conductor, and its conductivity is second only to silver.

From the point of view of the time history of people using metal materials, copper is the oldest metal used by mankind after gold.

Material characteristics: good corrosion resistance, excellent thermal conductivity, electrical conductivity, hardness, flexibility, ductility, unique effect after polishing.

Typical uses: wire, engine coil, printed circuit, roof material, pipe material, heating material, jewelry, cooking utensils.

It is also one of the main alloy components for making bronze.

7. Chromium

The most common form of chromium is used as an alloying element in stainless steel to enhance the hardness of stainless steel.

Chromium plating process is usually divided into three types: decorative coating, hard chromium coating and black chromium coating.

Chromium coating is widely used in engineering field.

Decorative chromium coating is usually plated on the outside of nickel layer as the most surface layer.

The coating has a fine polishing effect like a mirror.

As a decorative post-treatment process, the thickness of chromium coating is only 0.006 mm.

When planning to adopt chromium plating process, we must fully consider the danger of this process.

In recent ten years, the trend of hexavalent decorative chromium water being replaced by trivalent chromium water has become more and more obvious, because the former has very strong carcinogenicity, while the latter is considered to be relatively less toxic.

Material characteristics: very high finish, excellent anti-corrosion performance, hard and durable, easy to clean and low friction coefficient.

Typical uses: decorative chromium plating is the coating material of many automotive components, including door handles and buffers.

In addition, chromium is also used in bicycle parts, bathroom faucets, furniture, kitchen utensils, tableware, etc.

Hard chrome plating is more used in industrial fields, including ram in operation control block, jet engine components, plastic molds and shock absorbers.

Black chrome plating is mainly used for musical instrument decoration and solar energy utilization.

8. Titanium

Titanium is a very special metal. It is very light in texture, but it is very tough and corrosion-resistant.

It maintains its own tone all its life at room temperature.

The melting point of titanium is not much different from that of platinum, so it is often used in aerospace Military precision parts.

With current and chemical treatment, different colors will be produced.

Titanium has excellent acid-base corrosion resistance.

Titanium soaked in “aqua regia” for several years is still shiny and shining.

If titanium is added to stainless steel by only about 1%, the rust resistance will be greatly improved.

Titanium has the excellent characteristics of low density, high temperature resistance and corrosion resistance.

The density of titanium alloy is half that of steel, and the strength is about the same as that of steel;

Titanium is resistant to both high temperature and low temperature.

High strength can be maintained in a wide temperature range of – 253 ℃ ~ 500 ℃.

These advantages are necessary for space metal.

Titanium alloy is a good material for making the shell of rocket engine, artificial satellite and spacecraft. It is known as “space metal”.

Because titanium has these advantages, it has become a prominent rare metal since the 1950s.

Pure titanium will not react with metal because of its chemical properties.

In other words, because of its high corrosion resistance and stability, titanium will not affect its essence after long-term contact with people, so it will not cause human allergy.

It is the only metal that has no effect on human autonomic nerve and taste, which is called “biophilic metal”.

The biggest disadvantage of titanium is that it is difficult to refine.

This is mainly because titanium can combine with oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and many other elements at high temperature.

Therefore, people once regarded titanium as a “rare metal”.

In fact, the content of titanium accounts for about 6 ‰ of the weight of the earth’s crust, more than 10 times more than the sum of copper, tin, manganese and zinc.

Material characteristics: very high strength, weight ratio, excellent corrosion resistance, difficult to cold work, good weldability, about 40% lighter than steel, 60% heavier than aluminum, low conductivity, low thermal expansion and high melting point.

Typical uses: golf clubs, tennis rackets, portable computers, cameras, suitcases, surgical implants, aircraft skeleton, chemical appliances and maritime equipment.

In addition, titanium is also used as a white pigment for paper, painting and plastics.


By reading this article, you have learned about 8 common metals.

Do you know how many types of metals there are on the earth? You can read the following articles to learn about the type of metal:

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