Combining two or more different substances produces what is known in Chemistry as a mixture. Depending on the properties of each constituent of the mixture, the desired product, and various other factors, the process may involve more than just stirring or kneading. Mixing metals, for instance, naturally involves smelting and annealing since metals are hard solid, and this is the most efficient way to produce another metal.
The process of combining a metal with one or more metals or with one or more non-metals is called alloying. This practice dates back thousands of years when man discovered that copper can be combined with tin to form bronze. Since then, humans have been obsessed with producing harder and more flexible metals through alloying. Even today, many of the metals that were first used for alloying are still spawning different kinds of materials that are widely utilized for a range of applications.
Copper Alloys: The Most Common and Most Useful Types of Alloy
Because alloying is carried out at the molecular level, the number of materials that can be produced just by combining two types of metal can be staggering. There are, however, some alloys that have become prominent through the years due to their many known valuable properties that are highly beneficial for a plethora of applications. Perhaps the most well-known are the copper alloys, brass and bronze.
– An alloy of copper and zinc, brass is a corrosion-resistant and electrically conductive metal utilized for countless electronic, industrial, and decorative applications. It is the material used for making gears, bearings, and other mechanical parts. Various types of musical instruments are also made from brass. There are currently over 60 different types of brass alloys available on the market, each of which has a specific set of uses. It’s no wonder copper and brass sales keep shooting up year after year.
– When copper is mixed with a little bit of tin, bronze is produced. This copper alloy is well-known for its high ductility’ it can be drawn into small wires without breaking. Although considerably more brittle than copper and brass, bronze is less brittle than steel, which is why it is an ideal material for sculpture.
Purposes of Alloying
Alloying allows for the production of tougher and stronger materials, although this isn’t the only purpose of this practice. Sometimes, it is performed to eliminate certain properties of a metal so that the metal could be utilized for other applications. Simply put, alloying is performed to make metals more useful. By regulating the properties of a metal, new materials can be created, making buildings, machines, and even decorations safer and even better-looking.
The Alloying Process
Alloying consists of several steps, starting with mining the metal ore. As soon as the ores are collected, they are processed to separate the metal from the rocks and other impurities. This is done by crushing the ore into powder until it’s easy to sort out the content. The processing facility is normally located close to the mine to minimize hauling cost. Most large mines use chemicals to extract the metal from the ore. Then the raw metal powder is sent to foundries to be melted and alloyed with other metals.
Thanks to today’s recycling programs, some metals such as copper and its alloys no longer have to go through the same process again. They can simply be collected, melted to remove all impurities, and reworked. This metal manufacturing method is actually more cost-efficient and eco-friendly as well.
If you are looking for metal supplies made from the toughest of alloys, go to one of the bronze and brass suppliers in Brooklyn that has been around providing high-quality materials to all kinds of professionals and businesses for over half a century—Rotax Metals. Not only do they have a large inventory but they can also lead you to your most ideal options.