It cannot be denied that when it comes to heavy-duty construction, the hardness and durability of the materials being used are absolutely key. When considering this, ferrous metals are the ideal candidates for such heavyweight projects. This is because ferrous metals contain iron, therefore they have increased strength and hardness, as well as being magnetic. Despite these positive qualities, ferrous metals are prone to rust when exposed to water and moisture due to increased levels of carbon. Once you have weighed up the pros and cons, you must then contemplate the various ferrous metal examples.
Steel is made from a combination of carbon and iron, resulting in the metal’s hardness. However, other elements are involved, which make up the properties to form alloy steel.
Examples of steel alloys include stainless steel, carbon steel, and engineering steel.
Stainless steel contains chromium and other alloying elements. It is resistant to corrosion and its mechanical properties can be enhanced by the inclusion of other elements such as nickel, molybdenum, titanium, and many more.
Carbon steel is described as a “low-alloy” steel due to its lower levels of chromium when compared with stainless steel. Carbon steel is more vulnerable to corrosion and is often cheaper than that of stainless steel. Its properties also vary depending on its carbon content; low-carbon steels are easily welded but are weaker and softer, whereas high-carbon steels are stronger but more difficult to process.
Engineering steels are wrought steels and are designed for mechanical purposes. This is due to their elasticity, strength, ductility, and fatigue resistance. Additionally, they often need to resist extreme temperatures, corrosive and aggressive environments.
Cast iron is produced by the melting of three elements:
- Pig iron
Due to its delicate yet strong nature, cast iron is most appropriately used in engines, other car parts, and machine tools. Its high levels of resistance make it ideal for such projects.
In order to produce ferrous metals, the elements must undergo “the process of reduction”. This is when limestone and coke are melted in a blast furnace to remove all of the oxygen and foreign material.
For the manufacturing of wrought iron, pig iron is bound in a puddling furnace, to which the carbon is eradicated, and the other components are separated. This leaves as much pure iron as possible. Since it is the purest form of iron mentioned, it is most often used for chains, furniture, and barbed wire.
The variation of ferrous metals allows for diverse possibilities, which you can mould to your construction needs. It is important to consider what your project requirements are and compare the properties of each metal before embarking on your new venture.
If no ferrous metal seems suitable for your project, you may consider a non-ferrous metal, such as aluminum, aluminum alloys, brass, copper, lead, zinc, and tin. You may wish to use a non-ferrous metal for aircrafts, tin cans, housing guttering, water pipes, signage, small electronics, and other devices.
Non-ferrous metals are ideal for such projects due to their minimal weight, non-magnetic and conductive qualities. However, for heavy-duty construction, non-ferrous metals would be inadequate, mainly due to their lack of weight. For constructions such as skyscrapers, suspension bridges, industrial piping, railway tracks, and shipping containers, it is essential that they hold enough weight to be strong and durable. Therefore, ferrous metals are the most appropriate contender when it comes to heavyweight projects.
Despite this, each example has varying properties and so extensive research is key to accurately select which ferrous metal is for you.