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Metal Properties and Characteristics

Metal properties information and resources from your About.com Guide.
  1. Metal Production (4)

Copper History Pt. IV
Along with the advances in metallurgical studies that occurred during the industrial revolution, bringing about an unprecedented number of new applications for copper and copper alloys, the period was also marked by major developments in electrical engineering. The importance of the development of electrical engineering to copper cannot be...

Copper History Pt. III
Pre-industrial copper production and use. With new production methods and advances in metallurgy, copper extraction and use seemed to return to its previous vibrancy by about the 16th century. In 1586, a German working in the Cumberland copper mines claimed to be able to smelt over 560 tons of copper per year, evidence of growing demand for the...

Definition of the material property of malleability.

50+ Metal Properties Resources ... From About Metals
Over 50 additional metal properties resources from your About.com Guide.

Metal Profile: Hafnium
Hafnium is a silvery, hard and rare refractory metal that is used in heat resistant superalloys, nuclear reactor control rods and electronic applications.

About Metals: Free Chemical Compositions
Locate metal standard from any country and receive free chemical compositions. Search for ferrous and non-ferrous metals by standard, grade or society. ASTM, SAE, DIN, EN, WNR, GOST, JIS, ISO and more.

Rare Earth Metals
Information on the rare earth metals, their markets and a list of their common applications.

What Is Mischmetal?
Profile of mischmetal with physical properties, history, industrial information and applications.

Metal Profile: Lead
What is lead? Lead is a soft, grey, lustrous metal with a high density and low melting point. Although hazardous to our health, humans have been extracting and using lead for over 6000 years

Metal Profile: Iron
What is iron? Iron's use by humans dates back about 5000 years. It is the second most abundant metal element in the earth's crust and is primarily used to produce steel, one of the most important structural materials in the world.

Metal Profile: Tungsten
What is tungsten? Tungsten is a dull silver-colored metal with the highest melting point of any pure metal. Also known as wolfram, from which the element takes its symbol, W, tungsten is more resistant to fracturing than diamond and is much harder than steel.

Metal Profile: Tin
What is tin? Tin is a soft, silvery-white metal that is very light and easy to melt. Being so soft, tin is rarely used as a pure metal; instead, it is combined with other metals in order to make alloys that possess tin's numerous beneficial properties.

Aluminum Alloy Properties
Get the full chemical and physical properties of hundreds of aluminum alloys: chemical composition, tensile strength, elongation, hardness, shear strength, fatigue strength, modulus of elasticity.

Metal Profile: Aluminum
What is aluminum? Aluminum (also known as aluminium) is the most abundant metal element in the earth's crust. And it's a good thing too, because we use a lot of it. About 41 million tons are smelted each year and employed in a wide arrange of applications. From auto bodies to beer cans, and from electrical cables to aircraft skins, aluminum is a...

Metal Profiles
Who discovered aluminum? How is iron produced? What is tungsten used for? Learn everything you need to know about the history, properties, production and applications of individual metals in the Metal Profiles section.

Metal Profile: Nickel
What is nickel? Nickel is a strong, lustrous, silvery-white metal that was not isolated by scientists until the mid-18th century, but is now a staple of our daily lives and can be found in everything from the batteries that power our television remotes to the stainless steel that is used to make our kitchen sinks.

Metal Profile: Magnesium
What is magnesium? Magnesium is the lightest of all the metal elements and is primarily used in structural alloys due to its light weight, strength and corrosion resistance.

Metal Profile: Molybdenum
What is molybdenum? Molybdenum (often referred to as 'Moly') metal is valued as an alloying agent in structural and stainless steels because of its strength, corrosion resistance and ability to hold shape and operate at high temperatures.

Platinum Group Metals (PGMs)
The PGMs are the densest known metal elements. Exceptionally rare, the six metals naturally occur in the same ore bodies. They are highly durable and, due to their high value, often recycled, giving them long life cycles.

Metal Profile: Platinum
Platinum is a dense, stable and rare metal that is often used in jewelry for its attractive, silver-like appearance, as well as in medical, electronic and chemical applications due to its various and unique chemical and physical properties.

Metal Profile: Silver
What is silver? Silver is a soft, lustrous metal that has a long history as a medium of exchange in coins and currency, and as a store of wealth (silver bullion). A precious metal, silver has been used in jewellery and as a decorative metal for millennia, while, more recently, it has become an important metal for electronic, industrial and...

Metal Profile: Cobalt
What is cobalt? Cobalt is a shiny, brittle metal that is used to produce strong, corrosion and heat resistant alloys, permanent magnets and hard metals.

Minor Metals
What are minor metals? The term 'minor metals' is used to describe about 40 elemental metals that are normally produced as by-products and not traded on any major exchanges.

Metal Profile: Uranium
What is uranium? Uranium is a dense, radioactive element that is primarily extracted and refined as a fuel source for nuclear energy. In its metal form, uranium is used as a radioactive shield as well as in military armor and ammunition.

Metal Profile: Mercury
What is mercury? Mercury, or 'quicksilver' as it is otherwise known, is a dense, toxic metal element that exists in liquid form at room temperature. Produced and studied for millennia, mercury's use has steadily declined since the 1980s as a result of greater attention to the negative health impacts that it has on humans and the environment.

Metal Profile: Titanium
What is titanium? Titanium is a strong and lightweight refractory metal. Alloys of titanium are critical to the aerospace industry but, due to their numerous unique properties, are also used in medical, chemical and military applications, as well as in sporting goods.

Metal Profile: Chromium
What is chromium? Chromium metal is most widely recognized for its use in chromium plating (which is often referred to simply as 'chrome'), but its largest use is as an ingredient in stainless steels. Both applications benefit from chromium's hardness, resistance to corrosion and ability to be polished for a lustrous appearance.

Metal Profile: Manganese
What is manganese? Manganese is a key component in the production of steel. Although classified as a minor metal, the quantity of manganese produced worldwide each year falls behind only iron, aluminum, copper and zinc.

Base Metals
The term 'base metals' commonly refers to the industrial, non-ferrous metals: copper, lead, nickel and zinc.

Rare Earth Elements (REEs)
Until fairly recently, the lanthanide - or rare earth - elements (REEs) were a little known group of industrial metals. Locked away at the bottom of the periodic table, REEs were often overlooked, perhaps due in part to their limited uses and difficult to pronounce names.

A Short History of Steel: Part I
The development of steel can be traced back 4000 years to the beginning of the Iron Age. Proving to be harder and stronger than bronze, which had previously been the most widely used metal, iron began to displace bronze in weaponry and tools.

A Short History of Steel: Part II
The growth of railroads during the 19th century in both Europe and America put great pressure on the iron industry, which still struggled with inefficient production processes. Yet steel was still unproven as a structural metal and production was slow and costly. That was until 1856, when Henry Bessemer came up with a more effective way to...

Steel History
By the 17th century, iron's properties were well understood, but increasing urbanization in Europe demanded a more versatile structural metal. And by the 19th century, the amount of iron being consumed by expanding railroads provided metallurgists with financial incentive to find a solution to iron's brittleness and inefficient production...

Steel Applications
What is steel used for? Steel is both the most widely used and most recycled metal material on earth. From stainless and high temperature steels to flat carbon products, steel's various forms and alloys offer different properties to meet a wide range of applications. For these reasons, as well as the metal's combination of high strength and a...

Metal Profile: Bismuth
What is bismuth? Bismuth is a silvery and brittle metal that is frequently found in low-melt alloys. Demand for bismuth metal has grown over the past 20 years in large part due to its effective use as a substitute for lead.

Metal Profile: Steel
What is steel?

Steel Grades
According to the World Steel Association, there are over 3,500 different grades of steel, encompassing unique physical, chemical and environmental properties. In essence, steel is composed of iron and carbon, although it is the amount of carbon, as well as the level of impurities and additional alloying elements that determines the properties of...

General Properties of Steels
The following table lists the properties of steels at room temperature (25C).

Metal Profile: Scandium
What is scandium? Scandium is a lightweight, silvery metal that is produced and used in limited quantities as an alloying element and a component in halide lamps.

Steel Production
How is steel made? Methods for manufacturing steel have evolved significantly since industrial production began in the late 19th century. Modern methods, however, are still based the same premise as the Bessemer Process, namely, how to most efficiently use oxygen to lower the carbon content in iron.

Metal Profile: Palladium
What is palladium? Palladium is a soft, rare platinum group metal (PGM) that is valued for its catalytic properties.

Metal Profile: Indium
Indium is a lustrous, silver metal that is predominantly used in the production of flat panel display screens.

What is Galinstan?
Galinstan® is a eutectic alloy composed of gallium, indium and tin (hence its name, which is derived from the gallium, indium and stannum, the latin name for tin).

Metal Profile: Rhodium
What is rhodium? Rhodium is a rare platinum group metal (PGM) that is chemically stable at high temperatures, resistant to corrosion and mainly used in the production of automobile catalytic converters.

Metal Profile: Tellurium
What is tellurium? Tellurium is a heavy and rare minor metal that is used in steel alloys and as a light-sensitive semiconductor in solar cell technology.

Metal Profile: Germanium
What is germanium? Germanium is a rare, silver-colored semiconductor metal that is used in infrared technology, fibre optic cables and solar cells.

Metal Profile: Ruthenium
What is ruthenium? Ruthenium is a brittle and rare platinum group metal (PGM) that is widely used in the electronics industry due to its conductive properties and durability.

Metal Profile: Rhenium
What is rhenium? Rhenium is a rare metal that is highly resistant to heat and wear, making it ideal for use in superalloys, such as those used in the manufacture of jet engines.

What are metalloids? Metalloids, or semi-metals, are a group of elements that possess both properties of metals and non-metals.

Metal Profile: Iridium
Iridium is a hard, brittle and lustrous platinum group metal (PGM) that is very stable at high temperatures as well as in chemical environments.

Metal Profile: Tantalum
What is tantalum? Tantalum is a hard, corrosion resistant refractory metal with electrical properties that make it a valued ingredient in capacitors, such as those found in mobile phones and laptop computers.

Refractory Metals
The term 'refractory metal' is used to describe a group of metal elements that have exceptionally high melting points and are resistant to wear, corrosion and deformation.

Lead Prices 2013
Contracts for lead comprise about 8% of the metals (by volume) traded on the London Metal Exchange, while the global lead market generates sales of roughly US$ 16 billion annually. The prices listed below are based on the daily cash buyer contract prices settled at the LME averaged for each month.

Metal Profile: Gallium
Gallium is a silvery-white metal that has the largest liquid range of any metal element and is widely used in producing light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and semiconductor materials.

Metal Profile: Neodymium
What is neodymium? Neodymium is the third most abundant rare earth, or lanthanide, metal and is a critical in the production of high strength permanent magnets.

Metal Profile: Antimony
Antimony is a hard, brittle metalloid that is used as an alloying agent in lead-acid batteries, Babbit bearings and pewter. In its chemical forms, antimony is valued as a flame-retardant and catalyst material.

Copper Applications
From common household electrical wiring to boat propellers and from photovoltaic cells to saxophones, copper and its alloys are employed in a myriad of end-uses. In order to better understand copper's various applications, the Copper Development Association (CDA) has categorized them into four end-use sectors: electrical, construction, transport...

Electrical Conductivity in Metals
Electrical conductivity in metals is a result of the movement of electrically charged particles. The atoms of metal elements are characterized by the presence of valence electrons - electrons in the outer shell of an atom that are free to move about. It is these 'free electrons' that allow metals to conduct an electric current.

Copper Alloys in Marine Environments
Copper has good resistance to corrosion in marine environments and in seawater with moderate flow velocities. These properties are enhanced by alloying copper with nickel, iron, manganese, zinc, lead, beryllium and other metals.

What is cupronickel? Cupronickel (also referred to as “cupernickel” or copper-nickel alloy) refers to a group of copper-nickel alloys that utilize iron and manganese and are used in saltwater environments due to their corrosion resistant properties.

Brass Alloy Additives
Brass, a binary alloy containing copper and zinc, is made of various compositions, depending upon the hardness, durability, machinability and corrosion resistance properties required by the end-user.

Composition of Common Brass Alloys
The chart below summarizes the composition of a number of commonly used brass alloys:

The History of Brass
Not long after the Romans had discovered how to produce brass, the alloy started to be used in coinage in areas of modern day Turkey. Brass coins soon spread throughout the Roman Empire and there is evidence that calamine brass production moved into northern Europe under Rome's authority.

Brass Applications
Brass's valuable properties and relative ease of production has made it one of the mostly widely used alloys. While compiling a complete list of all of brass's applications would be a colossal task, we can get an idea of the breadth of industries and the types of products in which brass is found by categorizing and summarizing some end-uses...

Metal Profile: Brass
What is brass? Brass is a binary alloy composed of copper and zinc that has been produced for millennia and is valued for its workability, hardness, corrosion resistance and attractive appearance. The exact properties of different brasses depend on the composition of the brass alloy, particularly the copper-zinc ratio.

Copper Production
How is copper produced? Copper is typically extracted from oxide and sulfide ores that contain between 0.5 and 2.0 percent copper. The refining techniques employed by copper producers depend on the ore type, as well as other economic and environmental factors. Currently, about 80 percent of global copper production is extracted from sulfide...

Metal Profile: Copper
What is copper? Copper is a ductile and malleable base metal that is valued for its high thermal and electrical conductivity. Easily identifiable because of its iridescent, golden red color, copper and its alloys, such as bronze, have been used by humans for thousands of years. Due to its effectiveness as an electrical conductor, copper is now...

Platinum Production
Like the platinum along the banks of the Pinto river, the metal is most often naturally occurs in placer deposits. Platinum and PGMs miners, however, usually extract the metal from sperrylite and cooperate; two platinum containing ores.

Copper History Pt. I
Copper is considered to be one of the first metals to be used by humans. The main reason for its early discovery and use is that copper can naturally occur in relatively pure forms.

Metal Profile: Beryllium
What is beryllium? Beryllium is a hard and light metal that has a high melting point and unique nuclear properties, which make it vital to numerous aerospace and military applications.

Beryllium History
Although first isolated in the late 18th century, a pure metal form of beryllium was not produced until 1828. It would be another century before commercial applications for beryllium developed. Siemens and Halske Konzern of Germany were early pioneers, patenting copper beryllium alloys as conductive spring components in telephone switchboard relays.

Physical and Chemical Properties of Beryllium
The physical and chemical properties of beryllium compared with other common alloying elements

Physical Properties of Beryllium Copper
Standard beryllium copper alloys contain close to 2 percent beryllium, while the beryllium content in proprietary alloys can range from 1.5 to 2.7 percent. The standards in the chart below should be for reference only, as each can be subject to considerable variation depending upon conditions of heat treatment.

Alloy and Trade Name Technical Properties
Get information on over 6,000 metals and alloys from MaterialNet's technical property database. Search by alloy or trade name, chemical composition or properties required.

Hafnium History
Although predicted to exist by Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869, hafnium was one of the last elements to be discovered, only found using x-ray spectroscopy analysis of zircon in 1923 and isolated shortly thereafter. The development of light water nuclear reactors led to growing demand for the metal, which can be used in control rods to maintain a stable number of neutrons in the reactor and, therefore, stabilize the temperature of the reactor.

Metal Profile: Lithium
Lithium is a soft, light and reactive metal that is critical to modern portable and rechargeable batteries. The silvery-white metal is reactive with both air and water, as a result of it only having a single electron in its outermost shell. In contact with air, it quickly oxidizes to form a black layer, and in contact with water lithium releases

Lithium History
Lithium products were first commercially available and marketed by Metallgesellschaft AG (Germany) in 1923. Prior to World War II, however, the only market for lithium was

Lithium Production
In order to extract lithium from brines, the salt-rich waters must first be pumped to the surface into a series of evaporation ponds where solar evaporation occurs over a number of months. Because salar brines naturally occur at high altitudes and in areas of low rainfall, solar evaporation is an ideal and cost-effective method for precipitating salts.

Beryllium-Copper Alloys
What are beryllium-copper alloys? Beryllium-copper alloys are known for their unique combination of strength, hardness and corrosion resistance.

200 Series Stainless Steel
The 200 series is a class of austenitic stainless steels that are characterized by having a low-nickel content. They are also referred to as chrome-manganese (CrMn) stainless steel.

Metal Profile: Austenitic Stainless
What is Austenitic Stainless Steel? Austenitic steels are non-magnetic stainless steels that contain high levels of chromium and nickel, and low levels of carbon. Known for the formability and resistance to corrosion, austenitics are the most widely used grade of stainless steel.

Metal Profile: Ferritic Stainless
Ferritic steels are high chromium, magnetic stainless steels that have a low carbon content. Known for their good ductility, resistance to corrosion and stress corrosion cracking, ferritic steels are commonly used in automotive applications, kitchenware and industrial equipment.

Metal Profile: Stainless Steel

Chromium Applications
What is chromium metal used for? According to the International Development Association for Chromium, of the total chromite ore extracted...

Titanium Applications
What is titanium metal used for? Titanium metal alloys are primarily used in the following industries:

Metal Profile: Stellite

Physical Properties of Gold
The chart below lists the atomic identification and physical properties of pure gold.

Metal Profile: Toledo Steel
Toledo steel refers to pre-modern steel produced in Toledo, Spain and famously used to manufacture swords beginning as early as the 6th century BCE.

Iridium Applications
Although iridium finds itself in a wide range of products, its end-uses can be generally categorized into three sectors: Electrical Chemical Electrochemical

Nickel Applications
Nickel is one of the most widely used metals on the planet. According to the Nickel Institute, the metal is used in over 300,000 different products. Most often it is found in steels and metal alloys, but it is also used in the production of batteries and permanent magnets.

Metal Profile: Dysprosium
Dysprosium metal is a soft, lustrous-silver rare earth element (REE) that is used in permanent magnets due to its paramagnetic strength and high temperature durability.

Copper Characteristics
Pure copper is a bright reddish-brown metal that, when exposed to corrosive environments, takes on a green-hued patina. This green layer of copper sulfate (or copper carbonate) results from

Metal Profile: Zinc
Zinc is a lustrous bluish-grey metal that is primarily used to galvanize iron and steel in order to protect against...

Zinc Applications
Approximately half of all zinc produced is used to galvanize carbon steel products. Due to its electro-positivity, zinc acts as a sacrificial anode when

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