The Difference Between Ferrous and Nonferrous Metals Used in Heat Treating in Gastonia, NC

While reading up on metallurgy and the process of heat treating in Gastonia, NC for use in your industry, you may have come across the terms “ferrous metals” and “nonferrous metals.” Some of the most common metals known to most people include steel, cast iron, aluminum and copper, but there are many more, as well as particular metals used in specific applications. So what exactly is the difference between ferrous and nonferrous metals? As confusing as these terms seem, there is a simple answer: ferrous metals contain iron, while nonferrous metals don’t.

For a more thorough answer, we must talk a little about the basics of ferrous and nonferrous materials, as knowing some of the types of metals is necessary information we’d need to gain a grasp on the topic.

Ferrous metals

Ferrous metals hold a reputation for being strong and durable. In this group are metals including cast iron, wrought iron, carbon steel and alloy steel, all of which are popular in the construction industry. They provide a structurally sound frame for buildings of various sizes and other structures like bridges and railroad tracks, as well as for constructing automobiles, large shipping containers and commercial tools. Because of their high carbon content, ferrous metals that are regularly exposed to moisture are susceptible to rust (stainless steel and wrought iron are exceptions).

Two examples of ferrous metals are alloy steel and cast iron. Alloy steel is commonly used to make machines and tools, electronic components and parts for construction. When elements such as nickel and titanium are combined, they bestow durability and strength to alloy steels. Toss in chromium and you’ve got stainless steel, another alloy steel. To get cast iron, carbon, silicon and iron must team up. This hard alloy can stand up to wear, which is why cast iron is often used in manufacturing things like stoves, vehicle engines and water pipes.

Nonferrous metals

A major advantage that nonferrous metals have over ferrous metals is malleability—the ease with which a metal or material can be shaped or formed by controlled and applied force. This metal group includes copper, aluminum, lead and tin and contains no iron, thus allowing these metals a high level of resistance to rust and corrosion. It is thanks to this resistance that nonferrous metals are fantastic to use in outdoor materials and building parts, like home rain gutters, roofing, signage and exposed piping. Moreover, these metals are non-magnetic, making them important in many wiring applications and electronic components.

Aluminum and lead are examples of nonferrous metals. Although aluminum has less strength compared to ferrous materials, its lightweight composition makes it easy to cast and weld. It’s often used in aircraft construction and canning, yet it doesn’t fair well when left out in high-temperature environments. Lead is soft with a low melting point, and is used in power cables and building construction. Though also heavy and malleable, lead is pretty good at standing strong against moisture and acid corrosion.

In our industry, we make substantial use of both ferrous and nonferrous metals, and can use our knowledge to plan accordingly for your project. If you are in need of heat treating in Gastonia, NC, contact the skilled team at J.F. Heat Treating Inc. today.

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