There is no doubt that metals rank among the most important construction materials that the human race has ever used. In fact, a number of prehistoric eras are named after the most commonly used metals of the time; take the Iron Age as an example, or the Bronze Age. And while steel dates back to the Middle Ages (knight swords and armor), the Industrial Revolution modernized steel production as we know it. Vast amounts of refined steel, lighter and stronger than iron, allowed for the construction of I-beams for skyscrapers, railroad tracks, steam engines, and other marvels. Now in the modern age, steel is still used to make railroads and I-beams, but high yield steel is more advanced than ever, and that includes A286 stainless steel alloys and other grades of steel for 21st century work. Meanwhile, what is aluminum used for, and what about alloys such as K500 alloys or Cupro Nickel 70 30? The likes of A286 stainless steel, copper alloys, and more can do quite a few different jobs out there.
The Uses of Steel and Aluminum
While steel and aluminum cannot be used for absolutely everything, these metals are quite common today, and they are produced in vast amounts. The United States imports a lot of steel from China, Canada, and Germany, and produces a lot of its own steel, too. The sheet metal industry employs some 138,900 Americans today, and it contributes $30 billion to the American economy, including sheet steel. Steel rolls are produced when the material is passed through pressurized rollers at a high temperature to produce hot rolled steel, and this steel is ideal for making the likes of I-beams and railroad tracks. But if that steel is passed through rollers again but at room temperature, then this produces cold rolled steel, which boasts a protective finish and precise dimensions. This makes it suitable for for car parts and many other manufactured goods. Stainless steel, for its part, is used to make surgical equipment such as scalpels, and cutlery such as forks and knives.
Aluminum is softer and even lighter than steel, and it is being used more and more often to make vehicle body parts, so these vehicles can be lightweight and therefore fuel efficient. Not only that, but aluminum is widely used in the manufacture of electronic item parts, since it is lighter than steel and tougher than plastic. Meanwhile, modern power lines feature not copper, but aluminum wires inside, since aluminum is more ductile than copper and is lighter, so the power lines do not sag from the sheer weight. Aluminum is also widely used to make car rims.
Using Metal Alloys
While steel and aluminum are certainly useful, they cannot perform every job out there. Some applications involve extremes of heat, cold, pressure, weight, or corrosive materials that would damage and degrade steel or aluminum, so alloys such as A286 stainless steel and copper alloys are used instead. An alloy is a composite metal made up of two or more ingredient metal to perform a certain job, and the involved metals may include steel, aluminum, iron, nickel, copper, brass, titanium, and even tungsten or elements such as silicon.
So, what is A286 stainless steel used for? This alloy offers high strength in temperatures ranging from -300 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and it is easy to weld. So, it’s often used to make jet engine components, fasteners, and springs that are exposed to temperatures up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. The oil industry has need for nozzles, turbines, and exhaust ports that can endure corrosive materials and pressure, so A286 stainless steel and its great tensile strength are used.
Meanwhile, other alloys are used to make train engine parts or jet engine parts that are exposed to extremes of pressure and heat, and alloys are certainly used in the construction of the space shuttle. Copper alloys are vital for making undersea pipes that are constantly exposed to salt water both inside and outside, and copper can easily resist corrosion. The same is true of chemical plant tanks, pipes, and valves. Metal bellows, meanwhile, are made of alloys so they can bend, flex, and expand and contract safely while carrying heated gases or liquids without rupturing.