What is an Alloy? – Definition, Properties, Formation, Facts, Examples

Alloys are homogeneous solid solutions that contain at least one metal and are distributed randomly among the atoms of other metals to change their composition, strengthen, and their intrinsic properties.

It may be the mixture of two or more types of metals, and sometimes non-metals can also be used in making alloys (in the case of stainless steel, <1.2% carbon atoms are used) that have physical properties different from those of the individual elements.

Alloys are a mixture of different metallic elements, such as zinc, nickel, and copper, that are combined to create materials with enhanced properties such as strength and hardness. Alloys are often stronger, lighter, more resistant to corrosion, and more ductile than the individual metals that make them up. Alloys are used in applications ranging from construction and automotive to aerospace and medical.

Formation of alloys

Alloys are generally formed by those atoms which have metallic radii within about 15% of each other.

Transition metals form a large number of alloys because these metals are quite similar in size and therefore the atoms of one metal can substitute the atoms of other metals in its crystal lattice.

Classification

Engine gear made of alloys
Engine gear made of alloys

High Strength Alloys

High-strength alloys are alloys that are designed to have high strength and hardness. High-strength alloys are typically used in applications that require components that can withstand high stresses and pressures. Common high-strength alloys include steel, titanium, and nickel-based superalloys.

Heat Resistant Alloys

Heat-resistant alloys are alloys that are designed to have high resistance to heat. Heat-resistant alloys are typically used in applications that require components that can withstand high temperatures. Common heat-resistant alloys include nickel-based superalloys and stainless steels.

Corrosion Resistant Alloys

Corrosion-resistant alloys are alloys that are designed to have high resistance to corrosion. Corrosion-resistant alloys are typically used in applications that require components that can withstand harsh chemicals and environments. Common corrosion-resistant alloys include stainless steel, nickel alloys, and aluminum alloys.

They often have superior physical and chemical properties compared to their component elements. Commonly used alloys include bronze, brass, and steel. Some alloys are made by melting and mixing two or more metals together. Other alloys are formed by chemical reactions between the components. Alloys are used in a wide variety of products, from jewelry to airplanes.

Types of Alloys

Ferrous Alloys

Ferrous alloys are alloys that contain iron as a major component. Steel is the most common type of ferrous alloy, and it is composed mainly of iron, chromium, nickel, and carbon. Other common ferrous alloys include cast iron, alloy steel, tool steel, stainless steel, and other types of steel.

These alloys are used in a wide variety of applications, including automotive and construction components, tools, and cutting tools.

Non-Ferrous Alloys

Non-ferrous alloys are alloys that do not contain iron as a major component. Common non-ferrous alloys include copper, brass, bronze, aluminum, magnesium, and nickel. These alloys are used in applications such as electrical components, aircraft components, and electronics.

Specialty Alloys

These are alloys that are designed for specific applications. Examples include superalloys, magnetic alloys, and shape memory alloys.

Examples of alloy

  1. Alnico: Alnico is an alloy of Al + Ni + Co
  2. Brass: Brass is an alloy of Cu (60-80%) + Zn (20-40%)
  3. Bronze or Bell Metal: Bronze is an alloy of Cu (75-90%) + Sn (20-40%)
  4. Constantan: Constatan is an alloy of Ni + Cu
  5. Duralumin: Duralumin is an alloy of Cu + Al + Mn
  6. German Silver: German silver is an alloy of Cu + Ni + Zn in a ratio of 2:1:1
  7. Gun Metal: Gunmetal is an alloy of Cu + Sn + Zn in a ratio of 87:10:3
  8. Nichrome: Nichrome is an alloy of Ni + Cr + Fe
  9. Solder: Solder is an alloy of Sn + Pb
  10. 18 Carat Gold: 18 Carat gold is an alloy of Au + Ag + Cu
  11. 22 Carat Gold: 22 Carat gold is an alloy of Au + Ag
  12. Alloys of steel: It is made up of a combination of iron and at least one other element, such as carbon, manganese, chromium, vanadium, nickel, and molybdenum. The other elements are added to increase the strength, hardness, and other properties of the steel. These alloys are used in a variety of applications, such as automotive parts, aerospace components, and construction materials.
    • Chromium Steel: Cr (2-4%)
    • Invar: Ni (36%)
    • Nickel Steel: Ni (3-5%)
    • Stainless Steel: Cr + Fe + Ni + Carbon

Facts

  • An alloy with mercury (Hg) is called amalgam.
  • Iron (Fe), Cobalt (Co), and Nickel (Ni) do not form an amalgam with mercury (Hg) because of the large size difference with respect to mercury.
  • The alloy of lanthanoid series elements with iron is called misch metal.
  • Nickel (Ni) is used in the formation of alloys because of their shining properties.
  • Chromium (Cr) is used in the formation of alloys because of its rust-resistant properties, it forms an oxide layer over the iron and protects them from rusting.
  • Iron (Fe) and Carbon (C) are used in the formation of alloys to increase the hardness.

Uses

They are used for many applications, ranging from jewelry and coins to industrial components and medical implants. Common alloy examples include steel, bronze, brass, aluminum, pewter, and gold.

Alnico– It is used in making permanent magnets.

Duralumin– It is used in making airplane parts because of its lightweight property.

Solder– It is used in electrical industries for making electrical connections by the soldering process.

Conclusion

Alloys are a combination of two or more elements that have enhanced properties compared to the individual elements. Alloys are classified into ferrous and non-ferrous alloys, and they are further classified into high-strength, heat-resistant, and corrosion-resistant alloys. Alloys are used in a wide variety of applications, ranging from construction to aerospace.

FAQs

What is an alloy?

An alloy is a combination of two or more metals, or a metal and a non-metal, that has different and enhanced physical and chemical properties compared to the individual components.

What are the benefits of using alloys?

Alloys are known for their strength, durability, and corrosion resistance. They can also be used to create specialized materials with specific properties that can be used in a variety of applications.

What are the common alloys?

Common alloys include brass, bronze, steel, and aluminum.

How are alloys made?

Alloys are made by melting two or more metals together in a furnace and then cooling the molten metal until it solidifies.

What is the difference between an alloy and a metal?

A metal is a pure chemical element that has certain characteristics, such as strength and malleability. An alloy is a combination of two or more metals, or a metal and a non-metal, that has different and enhanced physical and chemical properties compared to the individual components.

What are the most common alloys used in industry?

The most common alloys used in industry include aluminum, brass, bronze, steel, and stainless steel.

What is the difference between ferrous and non-ferrous alloys?

Ferrous alloys contain iron and are magnetic. Non-ferrous alloys do not contain iron and are not magnetic.

What are the most common ferrous alloys?

The most common ferrous alloys include steel, cast iron, and stainless steel.

What are the most common non-ferrous alloys?

The most common non-ferrous alloys include aluminum, copper, brass, and bronze.

How can alloys be used in everyday life?

Alloys are used in many everyday items, such as cars, bicycles, electronics, and jewelry. They are also used in industrial applications, such as aerospace and medical equipment.

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