Non-Ferrous Alloys

What is a Non-Ferrous Metal?

Non-ferrous metals do not contain iron. They are softer and therefore more malleable. They have industrial uses as well as aesthetic purposes – precious metals like gold and silver are both non-ferrous. Actually, all pure metal forms, except for pure iron, are non-ferrous.

Non-Ferrous Metals Properties

Non-ferrous metal advantages make them usable in many applications instead of iron and steel. The properties of non-ferrous metals:

  • High corrosion resistance
  • Easy to fabricate – machinability, casting, welding, etc.
  • Great thermal conductivity
  • Great electrical conductivity
  • Low density (Light Weight)
  • Non-magnetic

Non-Ferrous Metals List

Examples of non-ferrous metals:

Copper

Copper is pretty widely spread in the industrial market. Add the alloys brass (copper and zinc) and bronze (copper and tin), and you may already see the many uses of copper. Still, copper and copper alloys properties allow more applications:

  • High thermal conductivity
  • High electrical conductivity
  • Good corrosion resistance
  • High ductility

Aluminum

In engineering terms, a very special and important metal. May not be so useful in everyday application because of the price but its combination of low weight and great machinability make it the go-to metal in yachts, planes, and many automotive parts. Aluminum is also the base metal in many alloys. Aluminum properties include:

  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Good conductor of heat and electricity (but less than copper) – in combination with ductility and malleability replaces copper in some instances
  • High ductility and lightweight
  • Becomes hard after cold working, so needs heat treatments

Zinc

Zinc on its own doesn’t mean much to the average person. As an alloying element, on the other hand, it has a wide range of purposes. It is mainly used for galvanizing steel in all kinds of fields. Galvanizing makes the material more durable against corrosion. It also has uses that when mixed with aluminum, it creates Zinc-Aluminum alloys. They were designed to compete with bronze, cast iron, and aluminum using sand and permanent mold casting methods. Distinguishing features of ZA alloys include high as-cast strength, excellent bearing properties, as well as low energy requirements (for melting).

ZA alloys make good bearings because their final composition includes hard eutectic zinc-aluminum-copper particles embedded in a softer zinc-aluminum matrix. The hard particles provide a low-friction bearing surface, while the softer material wears back to provide space for lubricant to flow, similar to Babbitt metal.

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