ALLOY METALS

ALLOY METALS An alloy is a mixture of chemical elements, which forms an impure substance (admixture) that retains the characteristics of a metal. An alloy is distinct from an impure metal in that, with an alloy, the added elements are well controlled to produce desirable properties, while impure metals such as wrought iron are less controlled, but are often considered useful. Alloys are made by mixing two or more elements, at least one of which is a metal. This is usually called the primary metal or the base metal, and the name of this metal may also be the name of the alloy. The other constituents may or may not be metals but, when mixed with the molten base, they will be soluble and dissolve into the mixture. The mechanical properties of alloys will often be quite different from those of its individual constituents. A metal that is normally very soft (malleable), such as aluminum, can be altered by alloying it with another soft metal, such as copper. Although both metals are very soft and ductile, the resulting aluminum alloy will have much greater strength. Adding a small amount of non-metallic carbon to iron trades its great ductility for the greater strength of an alloy called steel. Due to its very-high strength, but still substantial toughness, and its ability to be greatly altered by heat treatment, steel is one of the most useful and common alloys in modern use. By adding chromium to steel, its resistance to corrosion can be enhanced, creating stainless steel, while adding silicon will alter its electrical characteristics, producing silicon steel. Although steel is an alloy of iron and carbon, the term "alloy steel" usually only refers to those steels which contain other elements like vanadium, molybdenum, or cobalt in amounts sufficient to alter the properties of the base steel. Since ancient times when steel was used primarily for tools and weapons, the methods of producing and working the metal were often closely guarded secrets. Even long after the Age of reason, the steel industry was very competitive and manufacturers went through great lengths to keep their processes confidential, resisting any attempts to scientifically analyze the material for fear it would reveal their methods. For example, the people of Sheffield, a center of steel production in England, were known to routinely bar visitors and tourists from entering town to deter industrial espionage. Thus, almost no metallurgical information existed about steel until 1860. Because of this lack of understanding, steel was not generally considered an alloy until the decades between 1930 and 1970 (primarily due to the work of scientists like William Chandler Roberts-Austen, Adolph Martens, and Edgar Bain), so "alloy steel" became the popular term for ternary and quaternary steel-alloys. After Benjamin Huntsman developed his crucible steel in 1740, he began experimenting with the addition of elements like manganese (in the form of a high-manganese pig-iron called spiegeleisen), which helped remove impurities such as phosphorus and oxygen; a process adopted by Bessemer and still used in modern steels (albeit in concentrations low enough to still be considered carbon steel). Afterward, many people began experimenting with various alloys of steel without much success. However, in 1882, Robert Hadfield, being a pioneer in steel metallurgy, took an interest and produced a steel alloy containing around 12% manganese. Called mangalloy, it exhibited extreme hardness and toughness, becoming the first commercially viable alloy-steel. Afterward, he created silicon steel, launching the search for other possible alloys of steel. Robert Forester Mushet found that by adding tungsten to steel it could produce a very hard edge that would resist losing its hardness at high temperatures. "R. Mushet's special steel" (RMS) became the first high-speed steel. In 1912, the Krupp Ironworks in Germany developed a rust-resistant steel by adding 21% chromium and 7% nickel, producing the first stainless steel.

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