What is an alloy?
December 2021 | 8 minute read
What is an alloy? A metal made by combining two or more metallic elements, especially to give greater strength or offer resistance to corrosion.
Learn and compare aluminum, zinc, and magnesium alloys.
Did you know different metals can be blended in a process called alloying to make new metal? Many types of alloys exist, like bronze (copper and tin), brass (zinc and copper), and even tungsten carbide which is an incredibly hard metal.
These blends are made to give greater strength and added benefits, like corrosion resistance, to other metals.
Being able to combine metals gives engineers more options when choosing metals for products and manufacturing. Engineers will select the metals based on the needs of the part itself.
This might be either for lowering the cost of an existing part, offering better energy consumption, recyclability, or selecting new metals because of disruptions in the supply chain.
The most common metals are aluminum, zinc, and magnesium alloys.
What is an Alloy?
Choices for Metals
So what is an alloy? With a wide variety of metals to choose from, you may want to work with a metal expert to find what metals are the best selection for your parts or products.
This is a quick look at a few different metal options.
Used in most aerospace manufacturing because of its low weight to strength ratio. When aluminum is blended with magnesium it’s also less flammable.
This is also one of the most malleable metals available. Giving more design flexibility makes it perfect for automobiles, furniture, kitchen appliances, Solar energy management, and electronics.
This blend has the highest tensile strength of up 700 MPa.
It also is highly corrosion resistant and provides great thermal conduction, high electrical conductivity, and helps save our planet by being 100% recyclable.
What is an alloy? Let’s look at Zinc
Prominently zinc combined with other metals. This is used in many items including engine parts, musical instruments, heat exchangers, metal roofs, and washing machines.
This blend is typically stronger than other options but isn’t as lightweight as aluminum or magnesium. Because of its high durability, it is often used for die castings.
There is a wide variety made from all sorts of metals and best to work with a metal expert to find the correct blend for what your project may need.
What is an alloy?
What is a “Super” Blend?
Most are combined with aluminum and zinc. The benefit of magnesium-zinc is that it is the lightest alloy and stronger than many other alloys.
This blend is also a great option for many aerospace and aviation needs because of its lightweight and durability but also benefits the biomedical and electronic industries to create lightweight tools and electronic parts.
Although steel remains the strongest alloy, new “Super magnesium alloys” have been concocted in the last couple of years and may be able to go head-to-head with steel. The benefits would be offering a metal stronger than steel while being 30% more lightweight.
This is great news for companies wanting to keep production costs low while offering strength and lighter-weight products like mountain bikes for example.
Selecting the right metal
If you want to learn more about what alloy is best for your project speak with our metal experts. We specialize in one-off, custom, and low-volume production castings.
Get a metal casting quote for your next project. To learn more about other metals check out these links: