While a variety of standard alloys are available to meet a wide range of needs, specialized applications may require a custom alloy. A custom alloy can be engineered based on requirements for corrosion resistance, abrasion resistance, strength, weight, ductility and hardness. In some cases, a custom alloy may be only a slight variation on a standard alloy.
Custom alloys may be specified to include different metals, different proportions of metal or to include additional, non-metallic elements. Common metals used to produce alloys include aluminum, steel, copper and magnesium. A custom alloy may be formed by alloy suppliers by melting under air, vacuum or inert gas, by powder metallurgy, which is the mixing of powdered metals followed by the application of pressure and heat, or by ion implantation. Regardless of what method is used to combine the custom alloy, there are two different mechanisms that actually form them; atom exchange and interstitial mechanism. Atom exchange occurs when the atoms of each metal are approximately the same size and simply switch out with each other as they are melting together. Interstitial mechanism involves metal atoms of vastly different sizes that are too different to switch out with each other so instead the small atoms become trapped between the larger ones while melting occurs. Depending on their composition, custom alloys can vary significantly in cost.
Because custom alloys can be produced through the slight adjustment of any alloy base mixture, they can basically be applied to any application and industry that all the other alloys are for. Within the industrial manufacturing context, custom alloys can be used for heat treating equipment and components such as furnace baffles, flame holders and more. The electronics industry may utilize custom alloys in components such as printed wiring board plating systems, and the aerospace industry may use them for fuel nozzles, thrust reverse assemblies, rocket motors and jet engines. Also amongst the power generator products, custom alloys may be used as nuclear power components such as nuclear reactors and nuclear steam generator tubing. In the automotive industry, custom alloys are used to produce wheels, radiators and brushes as well as other power transmission parts, and in the marine industry they may be employed in the construction of shipping vessels. The uses of custom alloys are numerous, which is why it is such a common substance on the market today.