You can find the use and development of metal throughout human history dating back to the Bronze age. However, since then, we have realized that there are thousands of different types of metal and even more uses for it. Metal has become the base of the Industrial Revolution and has since become ingrained in our daily lives

From buildings to household appliances, we come into contact with probably about eighty different metals a day. This guide will walk you through some of the most common types of metals and what they are used for. 

Escalator

STEEL

With over three thousand different grades of steel, this metal is the most common metal used worldwide. Steel is a mix of iron alloy and a small percentage of carbon to produce an almost perfect and residue-free metal. 

Related: A36 Steel Grade Guide and FAQ

Iron is more robust than most metals but is heavy and quickly corrodes, making it difficult in construction applications. Adding carbon helps to stabilize the weaknesses of iron and makes the metal stronger. Steel offers a better strength-to-weight ratio than most other types of metals. That makes steel the perfect metal for manufacturing small parts.  

TOOL STEEL

Steel is perfect for small parts like tools. This specific type of steel is ideal for making pieces for cutting, drilling, or other shock-resistant kinds of tools. Some manufacturers add elements like cobalt, tungsten, molybdenum, or vanadium to harden the steel. There are many different ways to use tool steel in construction, shipbuilding, and automotive industries. Tool steel is explicitly made to machine parts that can make different kinds of steel. 

Bolts, nuts, and washers

STAINLESS STEEL

Stainless steel is the most corrosion-resistant of the steel family. This type of steel is made up of the typical iron and carbon combination and includes amounts of chromium. Stainless steel is durable and easy to work with, making it perfect for household application. Most commonly used for sinks, kitchen utensils. This steel is ideal for food-grade usage due to its non-porous structure and rust resistance. 

CARBON STEEL

Carbon steel is a metal that consists of iron and carbon. Some manufactures add residues of other elements. This steel is separated into three different categories, low, medium, and high carbon, based on the amount of carbon within the steel. The higher the amount of carbon used, the more complex the finished steel will be. Carbon steel is most commonly used in construction as a building material and sometimes to produce tools as well.

ALLOY STEEL

Alloy steel is a mix of chromium, nickel, manganese, tungsten, or vanadium with iron. These different elements offer different properties in the end result. That feature makes it easy to customize this type of steel depending on what a company would need. This customization allows the alloy steel to meet the needs of multiple projects that require specific qualities. Alloy steel can be crafted to be more resistant to wear and corrosion while being inexpensive to produce and easy to use.

Not sure what steel will work best for your project? Give South Austin Metals a call today.

ALUMINUM

Aluminum is easy to use, lightweight, durable, and resistant to corrosion. This metal is made from ore bauxite and was first produced in the 19th century. Overall this metal has found overall positive results due to its many uses. Aluminum is easy to machine and cannot be magnetized. It can hold an electrical current and can be utilized as a conductor. 

Aluminum is Earth’s most common non-ferrous metal. It is considered to be a soft metal and can form alloys with many other types of metals. This metal also has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio and doesn’t rust, making it perfect for things like cans, appliances, and airplanes. It can break down and oxidize when exposed to salt, but overall is a durable and valuable metal.

Metal tubes

IRON

Iron is the sixth most common element in the known universe and makes up about five percent of the Earth’s crust. With how common this metal is, there is no surprise about the popularity of it. It is an unalloyed form. Iron is very unstable. Iron quickly oxidized when exposed to the elements. To alleviate the oxidation process, iron is commonly alloyed with other elements. That is the base of steel. 

Iron has become the primary source of metal that is used in cookware. Its porous surface is perfect for holding oil and prevents sticking. Iron is also used for cast iron cookware because it has such a high melting point. This high melting point is also why this metal is used for the production of wood-burning stoves

BRONZE

Bronze is popular in making church bells. Bronze is a mix of copper and tin with small amounts of other elements such as aluminum, silicon, or phosphorus. Bronze is the first human-made alloy and is historic. This metal is considered to be brittle, but it is a rigid element that can resist fatigue and won’t bend or crack. It has a high corrosion resistance rate and is a great conductor for thermal and electrical energy.

Related: Bronze vs  Brass and Copper

ZINC

Zinc is a standard metal with a low melting point, making it perfect to be cast and recycled. The final product is durable and has a low electrochemical potential. This popular metal is ideal for coating other metals to protect them and can be added to galvanized steel to prevent rusting. Zinc is commonly used for hardware, automotive, and marine industries.

Related: Cold Welding 101

Conclusion

While there are as many applications for metal as there are types, these popular types of metal are commonly used for their durability and versatility. Fabrication is the root of our lives, and without these metals, we wouldn’t have half of the things we use daily.

South Austin Metals has been the heart of the construction industry for more than thirty years. SAM began serving the Austin, Texas, area with welders and other jobs. South Austin Metals is here for all of your metal needs.