A Metallurgy Definition and Overview

Metallurgy is the study of the physical and chemical properties and behaviors of metals and metallic elements. The principles of metallurgy have been used for thousands of years as core components of welding and metalworking, and of course, both our understanding of the field and the technologies used for these processes in Gastonia, NC have significantly evolved over time.

Early metallurgy got its start when humans first discovered that certain forms of metal could be melted down and cast in molds to create brand new shapes. When ancient humans discovered iron working and the addition of iron oxide during the melting of copper, this was a significant step forward in metallurgy and metalworking.

In the early years, metallurgy usually involved working with brass, bronze, copper, gold, iron and other such precious metals for the manufacture of jewelry, weaponry and ornamentation.

Today’s metallurgy research and practice generally involves the commercial production of metals and their use in industries such as transportation, healthcare, entertainment and more. The development and refinement of metals is highly important for many different fields, and to be done properly, it must involve a thorough understanding of the most important metallurgical principles.

There are two main categories of metallurgy in Gastonia, NC, in which there are a several methods that may be used. These categories are extractive and physical metallurgy.

Physical metallurgy

This form of metallurgy focuses primarily on the processes of making products from and creating metallic alloys for construction or manufacturing purposes. Those focused on physical metallurgy will carefully examine the mechanical, electrical, chemical and magnetic properties of the metals, as well as the various crystal structures in metals.

Specific components of physical metallurgy include:

  • Alloying: This is the process of combining several metallic elements into a mixture that creates properties that improve over pure metals. Alloys are often used for increasing strength in certain materials, improving resistance to corrosion or to reduce costs, as some pure metals have a much higher expense than their corresponding alloys.
  • Powder metallurgy: This process involves the creation of certain materials or components from metal powders. In using this process, operations can reduce the need to use metal removal processes that might typically be quite expensive.

Extractive metallurgy

Extractive metallurgy involves the separation of metal from its ore or other chemical compounds, thus allowing the metal to be purified during processing. The main methods of extractive metallurgy are as follows:

  • Hydrometallurgy: This practice involves using water to extract the metals or compounds from ores. Specific processes used within hydrometallurgy include pressure reduction, leaching or precipitation of otherwise insoluble compounds.
  • Pyrometallurgy: As the name suggests, pyrometallurgy involves the use of heat on minerals and ores to create a chemical or physical transformation of the materials, which then allows the metals to be extracted. Specific processes used within pyrometallurgy include smelting, converting and roasting.

Interested in learning more about the study of metallurgy and its modern applications in Gastonia, NC? We encourage you to contact J.F. Heat Treating Inc. for more information about the services we offer.

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