There are many differences between ferrous and non-ferrous metals, but the biggest difference is iron content. Ferrous metals contain iron, while non-ferrous metals like copper and bronze do not. Since both ferrous and non-ferrous metals have different properties, some will be more suitable for certain applications than others. Read on to learn more about these metal types to determine what’s right for your project or application.
Ferrous metal properties
Since ferrous metals contain iron, they’re susceptible to rust and corrosion when exposed to moisture. They’re also magnetic. Stainless steel and wrought iron are better long-term options when it comes to using ferrous metals for certain projects. Protective coatings can also help protect ferrous metals from the elements.
You’ll usually see ferrous metals used in piping, shipping, construction, cars and similar applications. Here are some of the most common:
- Carbon steel: Carbon steel has a much higher carbon content than other types of steel, which makes it very strong. It’s often used in machinery and in blades. Carbon steel is tough but brittle, can conduct electricity and is less malleable than traditional steel.
- Cast iron: Cast iron is brittle when it’s thin. It can also be cast into a mold, thanks to its strong compression strength. It’s particularly susceptible to corrosion, and is good for pans, gates, vices and manhole covers.
- Stainless steel: Stainless steel is corrosion resistant and heat resistant, and has an ability to “self-heal.” It’s extremely durable, and lasts a long time compared to other types of steels. You’ll see this used in anything from appliances to jewelry.
- Wrought iron: Wrought iron is another iron alloy, with little carbon content. It’s corrosion and oxidation resistant, and low in fatigue strength. It’s often used in railings, barbed wire and chains.
Non-ferrous metal properties
Non-ferrous metals tend to be more malleable than ferrous metals. They’re also corrosion resistant, thanks to the lack of iron content. You’ll see non-ferrous metals used for liquid pipes, gutters, roofing and other related applications. Here are some of the most common types of ferrous metals:
- Brass: Brass is a combination of copper and zinc, which makes it ideal for electrical fittings and ornaments. Over time, it can develop a patina that enhances its appeal.
- Copper: Copper is highly malleable and conductive, which makes it good for electrical applications. It’s a naturally-occurring metal, and is used in everything from statues to roofing. It oxidizes to a green color—the Statue of Liberty is a famous example of what copper patina looks like.
- Aluminum: Aluminum is lightweight, malleable and strong, which makes it appropriate for anything from beverage cans to bikes. It’s corrosion resistant and conducts heat well.
- Zinc: Finally, zinc is often used for galvanizing other metals. It has a very low melting point and can prevent ferrous metals from rusting or corroding.
As you can see, choosing the right metals for the job is the key to a successful project. If you have questions about what to use in your next construction job, contact the team at Benchmark Fabricated Steel today.
Categorised in: Metal Fabricators
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