What are Alloys?

Alloys are simply a metallic solution of two or more elements, smelted together or otherwise combined into an inseparable mixture. They’re typically designed to overcome certain weaknesses that might be present in one of the component metals – for instance, a tendency to rust, physical weakness, or poor resistance to temperature extremes. The mark of a useful alloy is that it improves in some manner on the qualities of its individual parts.

Commonly Encountered Alloys

Alloys actually comprise the great majority of metals in commercial use today – here are just a few common examples:

• Steel

SteelDid you know that steel itself is an alloy? By adding small amounts of carbon to iron and burning off common impurities like nitrogen, phosphorus, and silicon, smelters create a product with greatly increased strength and resistance to rusting – there’s a reason that the advent of steel-making technologies was such a turning point in the development of industry! Today, steel is one of the most common materials in the world, and is used in everything from building construction and industrial machinery to home goods like automobiles, appliances, and tools.

• Solder

This mixture of tin and lead is heavily used in the manufacture of electronics, as well as in plumbing and for various sheet metal constructions. Different forms of solder are created from the combination of varying ratios of these two metals, but all work similarly to join together metal components. Combining tin and lead grants solder a hardness that exceeds that of either element alone, and also gives it a melting point lower than that of both metals – making it very easy to work with.

• Bronze

BronzeThis distinctive alloy is one of humanity’s earliest breakthroughs in technology, and still very much in use today. Bronze is primarily made of copper, with other metals (usually tin, but occasionally arsenic – especially in the past) added in smaller amounts, and appends additional strength and durability to the malleable and rust-resistant properties of regular copper. Though it’s been displaced in some aspects by the superior strength of materials like steel, you’ll still find it used in statues, musical instruments, and electrical contacts.  

If you have additional questions about alloy creation or uses, contact the experts at Madison Steel today.