The majority of products produced require some form of metal component to serve as a support, cage, structure, or enclosure. The capacity of metals to be shaped, configured, or formed to meet any type of application has made them an essential part of modern production. The production and manufacturing of metal products depends on the coordinated efforts of metal suppliers and manufacturers who work together to make raw materials available.
When discussing metals, it is difficult to pin it down to a single type or kind since most metals are alloyed to increase their resilience, stability, and strength. It is seldom that pure metal is used in the production of a product. For this reason, suppliers and manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to improve their products with better quality materials.
With the understanding that all metals are some form of alloy, it is important to know what an alloy is. In extremely simple terms, an alloy is a blending of metals to accentuate their positive characteristics and suppress their poorer qualities. It is the alloying process that adds durability to many of the products we use. The purpose for creating alloys is to make metals harder, resistant to corrosion, more malleable, increase their temperature tolerance, or give them characteristics that make them more flexible for manufacturing processes.
One of the more common alloys is aluminum, a naturally occurring soft metal, that has the ability to be formed and shaped to serve a multitude of purposes when alloyed with stronger metals. Homes, machines, buildings, and vehicles have some form of aluminum component whether it is roofing material, window frames, doors, or a decorative item. Designers look to aluminum as the metal they can use to fit any application. The most common use that many of us know regarding aluminum is aluminum cans, which are easily recyclable.
Since aluminum can be transformed into any shape, it is widely used in the extrusion industry as a very dependable and reliable metal. The main reason that extrusion companies rely on aluminum is its high strength-to-weight ratio as well as its cost effectiveness. A benefit of aluminum is its ability to be used in shaping a variety of profiles from pipes and tubes to lighting fixtures and automobile trim.
Though aluminum has an excellent appearance, copper is another soft metal that has a wide variety of applications, which are increased by being alloyed with tin or zinc to form bronze or brass. Copper and its alloys, bronze and brass, are popular for their aesthetic appearance and resistance to rust and corrosion. They are excellent materials for the production of wire because of their soft texture, exceptional conductivity, and ability to be easily drawn through an extruder. Copper is highly valued as a material for producing piping.
Of the many manufacturing alloys, stainless steel is the most widely used to produce any number of products. Since it was first discovered in 1913, stainless steel has grown to become a central part of nearly every industry that depends on metal to produce its products. Airplanes, automobiles, cookware, construction, and many other industries rely on stainless steel for its rust and corrosion resistance as well as its strength and durability.
Though alloys are the more common forms of metals, a natural metal, nickel, is also very popular for its unique properties. Nickel is a naturally occurring element that is found in nature combined with iron. It is valued for its many properties, which include malleability, ductility, heat resistance, durability, ferromagnetism, and rust and corrosion resistance. Nickel can easily be alloyed with many other metals such as chromium, iron, and copper to enhance its natural characteristics and properties.
Other naturally occurring metals are titanium and tungsten that have similar properties as nickel. When alloyed with steel, iron, or aluminum, tungsten and titanium natural characteristics increase, which makes them more resilient. Much like stainless steel, tungsten and titanium have a wide variety of uses from making jewelry to being essential components for space craft.
The nature and qualities of metals and metal alloys has produced a variety of products from heavy duty industrial magnets to coated and treated construction materials. The ability to transform metals to fit any application is the reason that they are so essential to manufacturing.
Alloys are metallic materials that have been blended with other metals or materials to enhance or suppress specific characteristics. This may be for purposes of hardening, corrosion resistance, malleability, temperature tolerance, or to facilitate other manufacturing capabilities, such as extrusion or die casting.
Alloyed metals are used to make pipe, machine stock, high strength structural components for buildings and equipment, functional and aesthetic architectural elements, jewelry, appliances, tools, electronics, and coins.
Alloy suppliers offer stronger, more durable metals with more desirable properties than those of their individual components, such as increased hardness or malleability. Metals like aluminum, copper, magnesium, steel and non ferrous metals are common metal alloys that have increased material properties that make them more attractive on the market. On the other hand, the alloy‘s engineering properties such as tensile and shear strength, can be very different from the original materials, which were more heat resistant and not so brittle under those circumstances. In these cases, lightweight alloys with strong heat-resistance are created, known as high temperature alloys. High temperature alloys are metals that are composed of two or more metallic elements and have the capacity to operate or be utilized at extremely high temperatures such as 2000°F (1093 C). Superalloys are also high temperature resistant, but with increased mechanical strength, good surface stability and both corrosion and oxidation resistance. Most metals can be used in the forming of alloys and there are therefore many of them, including stainless steel, pewter, brass, bronze and then the specialized custom alloys. Custom alloys are chemically altered to various degrees for specific applications. Alloys can also be categorized by the types of processes that they are utilized within, such as brazing alloys and welding alloys.
Aluminum and aluminum alloys may be made into a variety of shapes for use in a variety of industries. Shapes and similar products include: bars, coils, plates, tubing, sheet, strip, wire, rods, and pipes. These products are useful in the architectural, chemical, defense, automotive, aerospace, transportation, marine, and food and beverage industries, among others.
In architecture, they may be used to construct siding, roofs, windows, and doors, and they may also act as an insulative layer of a building. In the world of chemistry, aluminum is a common ingredient of antacids. Aluminum is also a common element of aircraft wings, military vehicles, and irrigation pipes, not to mention automobiles, transport cables, and overhead power lines. On the factory floor, aluminum is used to make beer and soft drink cans, and around the house, aluminum is found in food storage foil, pots and pans, cooking utensils and appliances. Learn More
Aluminum extrusions are linear aluminum products highly valued in a wide spectrum of structural applications due to aluminum‘s high strength-to-weight ratio and the cost effectiveness of the metal extrusion process. Like other types of metal extrusions, extruded aluminum is either hot extruded or cold extruded through a die, shaping aluminum stock into various types of extruded aluminum shapes, such as angles and beams, aluminum channels, aluminum profiles or aluminum extruded tubing.
Extruded aluminum products like aluminum channels, shapes and profiles are both strong and lightweight, making them perfect for structural applications such as light poles, building and window frames, lighting fixtures, car bumpers, hardware joints, trim, and many other uses in construction, industrial and automotive industries. Shapes and channels can be extruded into complex, precision tolerance shapes to interlock with other aluminum channels or structures, or they may be extruded into heat sinks for cooling electronics, refrigerators and heat engines. Because aluminum is strong, rust and temperature resistant, easily fabricated and 100% recyclable, aluminum and aluminum alloy extrusions are often the first choice in building or structural materials.
Copper is an abundant metal which is used extensively in manufacturing many different products. The metal is used so frequently because it exhibits many useful properties like the ability to effectively conduct both heat and electricity. It is also a ductile metal which makes it easy to mold and draw out into wire, so the metal is used most commonly in electronic devices and wiring. However, copper tubes, sheets, and strips are also commonly used in products like air conditioners, refrigerators, automotive parts, cookware, and lighting components. Copper can be blended with other metals to form useful alloys as well, the most common of these being brass and bronze.
Brass is an extremely popular copper alloy which most often exhibits a muted buttery yellow color similar to gold, though color will vary among the specific brass compositions. Typically, brass is comprised of 67% copper and 33% zinc. As a general rule, the more zinc, the lighter the color of the brass.
Bronze is one of the most popular of copper alloys, in close competition with brass as the most commonly used alloy of this non-ferrous metal. The exact amount of copper in bronze is extremely variable and rangers from 60% to nearly 90% in some commercial grades. The second most prevalent element in bronze is tin, which is also variable commonly composing between 12% and 40% of the alloy. Learn More
Magnets are metallic composites, usually ferrous metal composites, which produce a "magnetic field"; the magnetic field causes other magnetic objects to be attracted to the magnet while other magnets are either attracted or repelled. There are many different types of magnets all with different magnetic strength, heat resistance, corrosion tolerance and permanence.
Magnets can largely be broken up into two categories: non-permanent and permanent; non-permanent magnets are electromagnets which require an external source of power and are triggered electrically to be magnetic. Electromagnets have many industrial applications such as solenoid valves, AC and DC motors, biomagnetic separation, transformers and so on. Permanent magnets include ceramic magnets (also known as ferrite magnets), alnico magnets and rare earth magnets. For instance, magnetic ceramic products have lower magnetic power and are more brittle and easily breakable than some other magnets, but they are much more cost-effective and are used in non-structural applications in motors, magnetic chucks and magnetic tools. Rare earth magnets, on the other hand, are less cost-effective to manufacture but are far more powerful and retain their magnetism better than ferrite magnets; they are used as industrial magnets for holding and lifting, motors, speakers and sensors, testing and MRIs.
Nickel is a naturally occurring chemical element, identified with the atomic number 28 and the symbol Ni. A transition metal, nickel is usually found in the earth in combination with iron (Fe). First isolated and identified as a chemical element in 1751, this silvery-white metal has been found in tools dating all the way back to 3500 BC.
Nickel has enjoyed many years of popularity because of its excellent properties, which include malleability, ductility, high heat resistance, durability, ferromagnetism, and exceptional rust and corrosion resistance.
Suppliers sell nickel to a variety of industries, such as military and defense, electronics, coinage, and industrial manufacturing. In military and defense, nickel and nickel alloys are used to fabricate, among other things, cases for rocket motors and missile components. Learn More
Stainless steel is a category of steel which is especially resistant to corrosion, rust, and staining. This type of steel is distinguished by its chromium content which gives the metal its impressive corrosion and rust resistant qualities. Stainless steel contains a minimum of 10% chromium, and different kinds of stainless steel can be achieved with varying quantities of chromium, nickel, and molybdenum. This metal lasts significantly longer than most other materials, requires very little maintenance, and is completely recyclable, which makes it an exceptional option for a huge variety of applications.
A wide assortment of products and shapes of stainless steel can be found at a steel service center. Some of the materials a steel service center provides are stainless steel foil, stainless steel wire, stainless steel strip, stainless steel bars, stainless steel plate, stainless steel coil, stainless steel sheets, and stainless steel rods. These materials are made through the processes of hot rolling and forming.Stainless steel is used to make a variety of products including kitchen supplies, tableware, electronic appliances flatware, laundry equipment, sinks, kegs and, vats, silos, and large kitchen equipment. In addition to a multitude of products, the use of stainless steel spans a wide range of industries, including engineering and construction, and can be used in smaller items such as elevator doors, gutters, to larger-scale applications such as skyscrapers. Learn More
Stainless steel tubing, or SS tubing for short, is a popular metal form, used in many industries. Hollow, cylindrical forms, stainless steel tubing and stainless steel pipes work perfectly as both the channel through which gases or fluids can pass and as parts of larger equipment or systems.
Stainless steel tubing is valued for its corrosion resistance, strength, and smooth, crack-free surface. The success of stainless steel tubing has led to the creation of many variations on it and piping, such as corrugated stainless steel tubing, which is flexible and features a PVC outer layer, stainless steel pipe fittings, which are pipe attachments, seamless stainless steel pipe, and stainless steel square tubing, a pressure resistant alternative to traditionally round-shaped tubing. Learn More
Steel service centers are facilities that process and treat various alloys of raw steel and sell the treated steel to manufacturers, who use them to produce any number of steel goods. Manufacturers that request the services of steel service centers include those in the aerospace, automotive manufacturing, construction, electronics, and shipbuilding industries, among others.
Typically, steel service centers manufacture a variety of premade shapes, such as steel beams, steel strip, steel tubing, and I beams, as well as a myriad of pre-production treatment processes. In fact, approximately 70% of all steel purchased by steel service centers receives some sort of pre-production processing. Servicers perform services like steel galvanization, steel aluminization, hot rolling, and cold rolling. Learn More
Titanium is a metal that is extracted from the element of the same name, which grows naturally and abundantly, though not in pure form.
Titanium boasts natural qualities of ductility, heat transference, low density, strength and high corrosion resistance. These qualities lend it to many applications, particularly those related to the aerospace and marine industries, automotive manufacturing, surgery and dentistry, racing sports, jewelry making and aquariums. To capitalize upon its qualities, titanium is frequently alloyed with other metals, like steel, iron or aluminum, to create materials with hybrid qualities. Learn More
Number 74 on the periodic table of elements, Tungsten, from the Swedish words "tung" and "sten," which literally translates to "heavy stone," is the heaviest usable element. With a melting point of 6192?, it is also the most temperature resistant metal of all those known today. In addition, non-alloyed tungsten has the lowest vapor pressure of all non-alloyed metals.
On top of this, tungsten and tungsten alloys boast high density, tensile strength, excellent corrosion resistance, and exceptional electric and thermal conductivity. Given its highly desirable qualities, tungsten suppliers receive demand for their product in many industries, including consumer products, construction, electronics, electricity and lighting, engineering, industrial manufacturing, jewelry, mining, and medical supply. Learn More
Wire rope consists of multiple strands of wire filament which themselves are twisted together before being wound helically around a core. First used for mining in Germany during the mid 1800's, wire rope has become a staple in heavy industrial processes such as mining, oil rigging, bridge construction, marine applications and others that require various heavy-duty lifting and support applications such as cable railings.
Manufacturers and distributors identify the differences in wire cable by listing the number of strands and the amount of wires per strand so that anyone that orders understands the strength of the cable. Sometimes they are also categorized by their length or pitch. More complex wire rope identification codes connote information like core type, weight limit and more. Any additional hardware like connectors, fasteners, pulleys and fittings are usually listed in the same area to show varying strengths and degrees of fray prevention. Learn More