Alloys are metallic substances composed of a mixture or metallic solid solution of two or more metals. They can even be composed of a metal and another element which may be non-mettalic to produce an alloy. An alloy usually has different properties from the elements that it is composed of. A variation in the concentration and ratios of elements produces alloys with different properties. They can be classified into two types, substitutional or interstitial alloys which difference depends on the arrangement of the atoms that make up them. There are several combinations of alloys which can be achieved by combining different metals or elements to have different properties and serve different functions. The uses of alloys are vast, and they can be manipulated to serve different functions by combining metals to produce alloys with specific properties ideal for the application. The use of alloys is vast in several different industries, ranging from military and medical equipment to commercial and industrial materials. Some examples of alloys are copper, stainless steel, aluminium and bronze, with each of them having different properties.
Alloys have been around for a very long time, even before modern technology. However, the progress in alloy technology only occurred in the last few decades. Copper was the first metal to be extracted from an ore and it was later combined with tin to create bronze. Today there are several combinations of alloys that serve different needs and functions. In this form of merger, the metals are not made to chemically bond with one another but are simply mixed together to achieve certain properties.
Alloys made out of the combination of copper and zinc is known as brass. These alloys are a type of decorative metal that are used to make musical instruments. Even gold and silver that are used to make jewelry do not usually contain pure gold or silver but have a certain percentage of copper or other metals to provide the jewelry with longer lasting properties. Also, when iron is extracted from its ore, it produces alloys that have varyin amount of carbon.
Uses of Aluminium Alloys
Just like other metal alloys, aluminium alloys gain strength and specific characteristic after they are produced from the merger of aluminium with other elements. Properties such as light weight and great strength allow aluminium to be used in several different industries. Applications of aluminium include transportation, electrical applications, construction and medicine. High altitude flying would not have been possible without aluminium as it posses properties that can withstand high pressures.
Uses of Copper Alloys
Possessing properties such as high corrosion resistance, ductility, low cost and electrical and thermal conductivity, copper alloys are used vastly in manufacturing electrical equipment. They are commonly used for heat exchangers as they can conduct thermal energy efficiently. Their low cost allows them to be used for making several electrical appliances in the industry.
Uses of Nickel Alloys
Used in applications such as aircraft turbine engines, nuclear power plants and many chemical and petrochemical industries, nickel alloys have contributed to today’s economy greatly. These alloys have great corrosion and heat resistance and are commonly used in control equipment to determine the base electrical characteristics of that equipment.
Uses of Stainless steel Alloys
One of the most vastly used alloys, steel is a combination of iron with a small amount of carbon, which gives the alloy a different type of crystal arrangement within allowing the crystal layer to slide past one another and thus giving the alloy properties like resistance to oxidation and strength. Stainless steel alloys are also vastly used in many industries. Their key property to resist corrosion and rusting allow them to be used in applications at the bottom of the sea. Commercial applications of these alloys include cutleries and watch straps. In the manufacturing industry, stainless steel alloys are used to make electronic agricultural materials.