We often refer to ferrous metals and non-ferrous metals, but what determines which category a metal falls under, and why does it matter?
Simply put, ferrous metals contain iron, while non-ferrous metals don’t.
Iron offers strength and durability to an alloy, and as it is mixed in various ratios with other elements it results in unique products with their own benefits.
Examples of ferrous metals
Stainless steel is mostly composed of iron which, while incredibly strong, is susceptible to rust. However, when chromium is added to the mix it reacts with oxygen and moisture in the environment and forms a protective oxide film on the entire surface of the material.
Other additions may include manganese, silicon, carbon, nickel and molybdenum which change the structure and strength of the metal resulting in a variety of grades.
Wrought iron is created by mixing slag with liquid iron while keeping the carbon content to a minimum. This results in a product which is both strong and resistant to corrosion.
The more wrought iron is heated and worked, the stronger it becomes, which makes it ideal for outdoor applications such as gates, fences, nails, balconies and more which may require a decorative slant.
While incredibly strong, cast iron is also brittle. It is made by reducing iron ore into liquid iron when it is cast into pigs or ingots. These pigs are re-melted along with other elements such as ferrite, cementite, pearlite and graphite carbon and then cast into shape.
Examples of cast iron products include a host of products from heavy-duty pans to machinery, pipes, and automotive parts. Easily machined and cast with brilliant wear resistance, cast iron is an incredibly versatile ferrous metal.
Recognised as one of the strongest ferrous metals, carbon steel has a high carbon content and is frequently used to make heavy-duty machinery and parts. It is also used in building and construction to create shafts, axles, support beams, rails, and more.
Indeed, the ever-shifting world of metal and fabrication is a fascinating one which we keep a close eye on. Can we help you with your next project?