A number of metals have been mined from the earth for many thousands of years, useful for making tools, weapons, and jewelry alike. Precious metals such as gold and silver are sought for jewelry making, while copper, tin, iron, and even lead have been used to make all sorts of goods. A number of prehistoric eras were named after the most commonly used metals of the time, such as the Bronze Age or the Iron Age. By the Industrial Revolution, steel was being produced in the U.S., England, and similar nations in incredible amounts, to make mass production of steel I-beams and railroad tracks possible. Even today, steel is a juggernaut in modern imports and exports, and many nations trade and produce it. But steel is not alone. Many other metals, and alloys too, are widely used, from naval brass C4600 to copper nickel alloy 70 30 to copper and aluminum alloys and more. What is stainless steel used for? How about copper nickel alloy 70 30? Metal can do nearly anything.
The Many Uses of Steel
While there is no single “best” metal, and no metal is truly universal, steel is without a doubt a major player in today’s manufacturing world. This metal has been forged since the Middle Ages, but only in modest amounts until the Industrial Revolution. Steel is refined iron, and is stronger and lighter than natural iron is. Steel I-beams made the construction of skyscrapers possible, and steel is also widely used in the creation of vehicles, train tracks, cutlery, surgical equipment, and more. The United States, Germany, Canada, and China produce and trade great amounts of steel today, and many steel imports to the U.S. arrive from Canada and China in particular.
How to make steel? There are two common routes for making sheet steel: hot rolled, or cold rolled, and there are advantages to each. At first, all steel is sent through rollers at a high temperature, and formed into sheets. Once it cools down, this form hot rolled steel, and some wholesale buyers may purchase it for making I-beams or railroad tracks. Hot rolled steel has imprecise dimensions, but for those applications, that is not a problem. Meanwhile, such steel can be sent through the rollers again at room temperature, and the final result is cold rolled steel. Such steel has precise dimensions and a glossy, protective coat, which makes it ideal for manufacturing car parts, electronic goods parts, and more. Care should be taken when packaging and shipping this cold rolled steel, to avoid damaging it during transit.
Steel may be joined by other metals in a finished product, such as titanium or aluminum. Titanium is known for its extreme durability, and aluminum is very light but tough for its weight, so vehicles made from it may enjoy greater fuel efficiency, such as trains. But for other applications, pure and ordinary metals such as these may not do the job, so alloys such as copper nickel alloy 70 30 and others will be used.
The Power of Alloys
An alloy is, put simply, a composite metal made up of two or more “ingredient” metals in pre-determined ratios and percentages. When made correctly, an alloy will, by design, offer some properties that regular metals cannot match. These alloys are thus very useful in extreme environments, such as exposure to heat, cold, pressure, or corrosive materials where steel or aluminum would be compromised.
To start with, copper nickel alloy 70 30 is a metal alloy often used in undersea pipes, to carry polluted seawater. This alloy can endure constant exposure to seawater both inside and out, where other metals would degrade and corrode, causing leaks. Pumps and valves in those pipes and processing facilities can also be made with copper nickel alloy 70 30, not to mention boiler parts and heat exchanger components.
Alloys can also be used to make corrosion-resistant parts in chemical plants, or alloys can be used to endure pressure and heat. In a workplace, metal bellows will be made of alloys that can flex and bend from exposure to pressurized and heated contents without rupturing. Extremely hot liquids or gases might rupture ordinary steel or aluminum, but not alloys designed for the job. This prevents a catastrophic leak or breakdown.