Metal 

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Metal

Steel

Steel is an alloy of multiple elements, the two main elements being iron and carbon. It is malleable and has a high strength but is still low cost. Because of these properties, steel is a large factor in the building, marine, appliance, weapon/body armour and infrastructure industries. Most modern structures of significant size are made using a steel frame, such as sports stadiums, bridges, airports and skyscrapers. Constructions which use concrete still often use steel for extra reinforcement. Steel is also used frequently in the automobile industry and is still the main material used in making the body of a vehicle. Steel is also widely used in the construction industry to make items such as bolts, nails and screws. Steel is used in many goods around the home, such as washing machines, utensils and splashbacks.There are many varieties of steel alloys, some of which are listed below:

Mild Steel

Mild Steel may also be referred to as carbon steel or plain steel. Mild Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. The percentage of carbon present within the mild steel has a large effect on the properties of the metal. Mild Steel is made up of approximately 0.05% - 0.25% carbon which provides it with desirable properties such as malleability and ductility. Mild Steel is the most common form of steel due to its relatively low price. Some popular uses of Mild Steel include the catering industry, particularly cooking utensils. In the automotive industry, Mild Steel is commonly used to make car parts and bodies, whilst in construction it is favoured as a suitable frame for buildings. Mild Steel is also popular for machine part manufacturing and is becoming increasingly common in fencing and pipelines. Mild Steel has a low corrosion resistance in comparison to other steels however can easily be primed or painted to protect it and minimalise the effects of rusting.

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Galvanised Steel

Galvanised Steel is Mild Steel which has been covered with a protective zinc coating making it resistant to rust and are ideal for using outdoors. The steel goes through a chemical process known as hot dip galvanisation which provides protection to the mild steel. The corrosion of zinc is much slower in comparison to mild steel which makes it more resistant to rusting than ordinary mild steel and also improves the durability and gives a hard to scratch finish which creates an aesthetically pleasing look. Galvanised mild steel is therefore great for outdoor use including harsh environments such as marine or industrial applications as it can withstand the elements, giving it a longer life expectancy. As well as these properties, galvanised mild steel is also popular as it can be recycled and reused multiple times. The effectiveness of the zinc coating may decrease over time meaning rusting is inevitable due to exposure to the weather over a period of decades. Any cut edges in the steel can be treated with our zinc spray to ensure all edges are protected. Galvanised Steel products may have a small hole in them to enable the product to be dipped in the galvanising tank.

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Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel is the name given to a range of steels which contain enhanced levels of chromium providing the steel with very good corrosion and heat resistance properties. Every grade of Stainless Steel is able to resist some level of corrosion and heat, however each grade contains different levels of chromium and therefore different corrosion and heat resistance properties. The higher the chromium content, the more able the Steel is to resist corrosion. These qualities make Stainless Steel very versatile and suitable for use in a range of industries. The most common grades are 303, 304 and 316. The presence of sulphur in Grade 303 makes it ideal for machining. It is also easier to drill and cut compared to other grades. Grade 304 is the most commonly used grade and is suitable for most general applications. It is easy to weld and has good forming properties and corrosion resistance. Grade 316 has a higher corrosion resistance than grade 304 making it more suited to tough environments such as exposure to salt water and heavily industrialised areas. Stainless steel's resistance to corrosion and staining and low maintenance make it an ideal material for many applications where both the strength of steel and corrosion resistance are required. Some popular uses of Stainless Steel include the food industry such as cutlery, storage for food products and for decorative and practical uses in commercial kitchens as it is easy to be sterilised. Stainless Steel may also be used for larger applications. It is used as a construction material for practical and cosmetic reasons; it is durable and malleable meaning it can be used to form different shapes and the finish of the Stainless Steel is widely considered to be aesthetically pleasing. Other construction uses include bridges, and airport roofs. Stainless steel is also used widely in medicine and dentistry for surgical instruments, surgical implants such as bone replacements, needles and wiring for braces. Other uses include firearms, jewellery making, plumbing and waste water treatment works.

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Aluminium

Aluminium is a highly versatile metal and has many uses including packaging, household items, transportation, machinery and construction. It is the most widely used metal second only to steel. Aluminium is very lightweight with an excellent strength to weight ratio - even superior to the strength to weight ratio of steel. Aluminium is naturally resistant to corrosion however this resistance can be improved by anodising or painting the aluminium. Aluminium can also be welded and has good thermal and electrical conductivity. For the most part, aluminium is alloyed as this greatly improves its desirable properties. Some common materials which aluminium is alloyed include copper, magnesium, silicone and zinc. The major uses for aluminium metal are in the transportation industry where it is used for its low density to make aeroplanes, spacecraft and cars; packaging where it is used for its non-toxic properties and the construction industry, including roofing and doors, where it is favoured over steel when weight and corrosion resistance are important to the application. Aluminium is also widely used in electrical applications such as conductors, transformers, generator and motors as it is highly conductive and has moderate strength; and in household items such as cooking utensils and even furniture as it is widely considered to have an attractive appearance.

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Brass

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc and is recognisable by its bright yellow-gold appearance. It is harder than copper and has excellent corrosion resistance, although it does tarnish. Brass is used in many decorative applications where its gold like appearance is desired such as door knobs; for applications where low friction is required such as locks, bearings and gears; for plumbing and electrical applications and widely in the making of musical instruments due to its high durability and pleasant acoustic properties. Brass is also ideal for use in applications where flammable or explosive materials are present as it does not produce sparks. Brass is also widely recyclable as it is easy to extrude from the alloy and the softness of it makes it relatively easy to machine. Brass also has antibacterial properties; it can kill the unwanted microorganisms which is comes into contact with, making it useful in marine environments. To enhance the properties of brass it is often combined with other materials such as aluminium which makes it stronger and more resistant to corrosion; tin which is beneficial in salt water environments, iron or silicone which increase the life expectancy of brass by making it more resistant to wear and tear; and lead which increases the machinability of brass.

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Copper

Copper is a medium strength, non-magnetic metal. It has excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, as well as being malleable, ductile and corrosion resistant. Copper is easily recognisable by its pink-orange surface colour. Although when used in outdoor applications, copper develops a green coloured patina which protects it from further corrosion. It is possible to machine copper however this is much easier to do when the copper is alloyed. Copper is widely recycled and does not lose its quality when it is reused. Copper is sometimes used for decorative art, jewellery and to make coins and thermometers. Like brass, it is antibacterial and is often painted on to marine equipment, in particular the hull of ships to slow the growth of plants and other organisms. Copper can also be used as a nutritional supplement and fungicide in the agricultural industry. However, the most popular and well known uses of copper are in electrical applications, particularly wiring and for roofing and plumbing purposes.

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