What Does the Term “Ferrous Metal” Mean?

February 19, 2020 3:30 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Metal can be classified in many different ways based on various physical properties and compositions. Perhaps the most important categorization of metal is ferrous vs. non-ferrous. But what does this mean? Read on for some clarification from your trusted metal siding dealer in Alaska.

Metal that is deemed “ferrous” has iron in its composition. The term then implies iron makes up a large enough percentage of the elemental composition of the metal to be noteworthy, usually either the most, second-most or third-most abundant element in the metal. If the metal only contains trace amounts of iron, it would not be enough to consider it a ferrous metal.

It can be hard to name common properties of ferrous metals, because there are a lot of alloying elements that can result in a wide range of characteristics. While many ferrous metals are magnetic, this isn’t always the case. Some, for example, might contain a large amount of nickel that results in a crystal structure that prohibits magnetic properties, as is the case with austenitic stainless steel. Austenite is not a magnetic metal, but does contain iron.

Other types of ferrous metals might be extremely strong and brittle, such as cast iron. However, you might find other examples like low-carbon steels that are actually on the softer side and have a high level of ductility due to the lower amounts of carbon compared to cast iron.

Examples of ferrous metals

Let’s take a quick look at some of the most common examples of ferrous metals you’re likely to find in use in industrial applications:

  • Cast iron: We’ve already brought up cast iron, which is known for its durability and brittleness. It has a higher amount of carbon than other types of ferrous metals, which is why it’s so strong. Because there are so few alloying elements aside from the iron and carbon, it generally is more affordable than other high-alloy ferrous metals. You’ll frequently find it used in cookware, mining equipment and small parts and components that would be subject to a lot of wear and tear.
  • Stainless steel: Stainless steel is extremely common in a wide variety of applications. It features a high amount of chromium that helps to create greater corrosion resistance. Stainless steel can also be broken down into subgroups, as there are austenitic stainless steels with outstanding corrosion resistance, as well as duplex, ferritic and martensitic stainless steels, each of which have their own advantages and disadvantages.
  • Carbon steel: Carbon steel might be the most widely used type of ferrous metal you’ll find. It’s primarily made with iron (more than 90 percent), with the only other major alloying element being carbon. It’s frequently used in furniture, structures and vehicle components.
  • Alloy steel: Alloy steels are designed for specific purposes and uses, and will make use of a greater variety of alloying elements to create certain characteristics. They are highly specialized as a result.

For more information about ferrous metals in Alaska and what you should know about the various types of metals you can use for your upcoming project, contact the experts at Superior Products Inc. today.

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