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Almost 75% of all elements are metals.

Metals are used in electronics for wires and in cookware for pots
and pans because they conduct electricity and heat well. Most metals are malleable and ductile and are,
in general, heavier than the other elemental substances. Two or more metals can be alloyed to create
materials with properties that do not exist in a pure metal.

All metals can be classified as either ferrous or non-ferrous. Ferrous metals contain iron and non-ferrous
metals do not. All ferrous metals are magnetic and have poor corrosion resistance while non-ferrous
metals are typically non-magnetic and have more corrosion resistance. An overview of the most common
ferrous and non-ferrous metals is shown below.

Ferrous Metals

Composition Properties Applications
Low Carbon Up to 0.30% Good formability, 0.1%-0.2% carbon: Chains,
Steels Carbon good weld-ability, low stampings, rivets, nails, wire, pipe,
cost and where very soft, plastic steel is

0.2%-0.3% carbon: Machine and

structural parts
Medium 0.30% to 0.80% A good balance of 0.3%-0.4% carbon: Lead screws,
Carbon Carbon properties, fair gears, worms, spindles, shafts, and
Steels formability machine parts.

0.4%-0.5% carbon: Crankshafts,

gears, axles, mandrels, tool shanks,
and heat-treated machine parts

0.6%-0.8% carbon: "Low carbon tool

steel" and is used where shock
strength is wanted. Drop hammer
dies, set screws, screwdrivers, and

0.7%-0.8% carbon: Tough and hard

steel. Anvil faces, band saws,
hammers, wrenches, and cable wire.
High Carbon 0.80% to ~2.0% Low toughness, 0.8%-0.9% carbon: Punches for
Steels Carbon formability, and weld- metal, rock drills, shear blades, cold
ability, high hardness chisels, rivet sets, and many hand
and wear resistance, tools.
fair formability
0.9%-1.0% carbon: Used for hardness
and high tensile strength, springs,
cutting tools
1.0%-1.2% carbon: Drills, taps,
milling cutters, knives, cold cutting
dies, wood working tools.

1.2%-1.3% carbon: Files, reamers,

knives, tools for cutting wood and

1.3%-1.4% carbon: Used where a

keen cutting edge is necessary
(razors, saws, etc.) and where wear
resistance is important.
Stainless Stainless steel is a Good corrosion
Steel family of resistance, appearance,
corrosion resistant and mechanical
steels. They properties
contain at least
10.5% chromium,
with or without
other elements.
The Chromium in
the alloy forms a
protective clear
oxide layer. This
oxide layer gives
stainless steels
their corrosion
Austenitic Steels: Good mechanical and Kitchen sinks, architectural
Contains corrosion resisting applications such as roofing,
chromium and properties, high cladding, gutters, doors and windows;
nickel. The hardness and yield Food processing equipment; Heat
typical chromium strength as well as exchangers; Ovens; Chemical tanks
content is in the excellent ductility and
range of 16% to are usually non-
26%; nickel magnetic
content is
commonly less
than 35%.
Ferritic Steels: Good ductility, weld- Automotive trim, catalytic converters,
Magnetic with a ability, and radiator caps, fuel lines, cooking
high chromium formability; reasonable utensils, architectural and domestic
and low nickel thermal conductivity, appliance trim applications
content usually and corrosion
alloyed with other resistance with a good
elements such as bright surface
aluminum or appearance
Martensitic Good combination of Cutlery, scissors, surgical
Steels: Typically corrosion resistance instruments, wear plates, garbage
contains 11.0% to and excellent disposal shredder lugs, industrial
17.0% chromium, mechanical properties, knives, vanes for steam turbines,
no nickel, and produced by heat fasteners, shafts, and springs
0.10% to 0.65% treatment, to develop
carbon levels. The maximum hardness,
high carbon strength, and resistance
enables the to abrasion and
material to be erosion.
hardened by
heating to a high
followed by rapid

Non-Ferrous Metals

Composition Properties Applications
Aluminum / Pure metal / Low density, good Window frames, aircraft parts,
Aluminum Easily alloyed electrical conductivity automotive parts, kitchenware
alloys with small (approx. 60% of
amounts of copper), nonmagnetic,
copper, noncombustible,
manganese, ductile, malleable,
silicone, corrosion resistance;
magnesium, and easily formed,
other elements machined, or cast
Brass Alloy of copper Reasonable hardness; Parts for electrical fittings, valves,
and zinc, 65% to casts, forms, and forgings, ornaments, musical
35% is the machines well; good instruments
common ratio electrical conductivity
and acoustic properties
Copper Pure metal Excellent ductility, Electrical wiring, tubing, kettles,
thermal and electrical bowls, pipes, printed circuit boards
Lead Pure metal Heaviest common Pipes, batteries, roofing, protection
metal, ductile, and against X-Rays
malleable, good
corrosion resistance
Magnesium / Pure metal / Used Lightest metallic Automobile, portable electronics,
Magnesium as an alloy material (density of appliances, power tools, sporting
Alloys element for about 2/3 of that of goods parts, and aerospace equipment
aluminum, lead, aluminum), strong and
zinc, and other tough, most
nonferrous alloys; machinable metal,
alloyed with good corrosion
aluminum to resistance, easily cast
improve the
fabrication, and
Nickel / Pure metal / Very good corrosion The major use of nickel is in the
Nickel Alloys very well resistance (can be preparation of alloys or plating -
Alloys with large alloyed to extend frequently used as an undercoat in
amounts of other beyond stainless decorative chromium plating and to
elements, chiefly steels), good high improve corrosion resistance;
chromium, temperature and applications include electronic lead
molybdenum, and mechanical wires, battery components, heat
tungsten performance, fairly exchangers in corrosive environments
good conductor of heat
and electricity
Titanium / Pure metal / Low density, low Aerospace structures and other high-
Titanium Easily alloys with coefficient of thermal performance applications, chemical
Alloys aluminum, nickel, expansion, high and petrochemical applications,
chromium, and melting point, marine environments, and biomaterial
other elements excellent corrosion applications
resistance, nontoxic
and generally
compatible with
human tissues and
bones, high strength,
stiffness, good
Zinc / Zinc Pure metal/ Metal Excellent corrosion Used principally for galvanizing iron
Alloys is employed to resistance, light (more than 50% of metallic zinc goes
form numerous weight, reasonable into galvanizing steel), numerous
alloys with other conductor of electricity automotive applications because of its
metals. Alloys of light weight
primarily zinc
with small
amounts of
aluminum, and
magnesium are
useful in die-
casting. The most
widely used alloy
of zinc is brass

Plastic is a commercial name for a group of materials that while being processed, can be pushed or
formed into almost any desired shape and then retain that shape. Plastics can be cast, molded, or
pressed into an unlimited variety of shapes. They are one of the most used materials on a volume basis
in industrial and commercial life. Plastics are on par with metals, wood, and ceramics and are essential to
the needs of virtually the entire spectrum of business. Plastics, properly applied, will perform functions at
a cost that other materials cannot match.

Most plastics can be classified as either thermoplastic or thermosetting materials. Thermoplastic materials
can be formed into desired shapes under heat and pressure and become solids on cooling. If they are
subjected to the same conditions of heat and pressure, they can be reprocessed into new shapes.
Thermosetting materials are like concrete, once processed and shaped, they cannot be reshaped. Today,
the vast majority of plastics are thermoplastics.

Plastics are made up of polymers. Polymeric materials are characterized by long chains of repeated
molecule units known as "mers". These long chains intertwine to form the bulk of the plastic. The ways in
which the chains intertwine determine the plastic's macroscopic properties. Typically, the polymer chain
orientations are random and give the plastic an amorphous structure. Amorphous plastics have good
impact strength and toughness. Examples include acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), styrene-
acrylonitrile copolymer (SAN), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polycarbonate (PC), and polystyrene (PS).

If instead the polymer chains take an orderly, densely packed arrangement, the plastic is said to be
crystalline. Crystalline plastics share many properties with crystals, and typically will have lower
elongation and flexibility than amorphous plastics, and better chemical resistance. Examples of crystalline
plastics include acetal, polyamide (PA; nylon), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyester (PET,
PBT), and polyphenylene sulfide (PPS). Advances in chemistry have made the distinction between
crystalline and amorphous less clear, since some materials like nylon are formulated both as a crystalline
material and as an amorphous material.

Thermoplastics and Thermosets

Material name Abbreviation Trade names Description Applications

Strong, rigid, Bearings, cams,
excellent fatigue gears, handles,
Celcon, Delrin,
resistance, excellent plumbing
Acetal POM Hostaform,
creep resistance, components,
chemical resistance, rollers, rotors, slide
moisture resistance, guides, valves
naturally opaque
white, low/medium
Rigid, brittle, scratch Display stands,
resistant, knobs, lenses, light
Acrylic PMMA transparent, optical housings, panels,
clarity, low/medium reflectors, signs,
cost shelves, trays
Strong, flexible, low
mold shrinkage
Cycolac, (tight tolerances),
(consoles, panels,
Acrylonitrile Magnum, chemical resistance,
ABS trim, vents), boxes,
Butadiene Styrene Novodur, electroplating
gauges, housings,
Terluran capability, naturally
inhalors, toys
opaque, low/medium
Tough, transparent, Handles, eyeglass
Cellulose Acetate CA Cellidor,
high cost frames
High strength,
fatigue resistance,
Akulon, chemical resistance, Bearings, bushings,
Polyamide 6 (Nylon) PA6 Ultramid, low creep, low gears, rollers,
Grilon friction, almost wheels
medium/high cost
High strength,
fatigue resistance,
chemical resistance, Handles, levers,
Polyamide 6/6 Kopa, Zytel,
PA6/6 low creep, low small housings, zip
(Nylon) Radilon
friction, almost ties
medium/high cost
High strength,
fatigue resistance,
chemical resistance, Air filters, eyeglass
Polyamide 11+12 Rilsan,
PA11+12 low creep, low frames, safety
(Nylon) Grilamid
friction, almost masks
opaque to clear, very
high cost
Very tough, Automotive
temperature (panels, lenses,
Polycarbonate PC Lexan,
resistance, consoles), bottles,
dimensional containers,
stability, transparent, housings, light
high cost covers, reflectors,
safety helmets and
Automotive (filters,
handles, pumps),
bearings, cams,
Celanex, Rigid, heat
Polyester - Crastin, resistance, chemical
PBT, PET components
Thermoplastic Lupox, Rynite, resistance,
Valox medium/high cost
sensors), gears,
housings, rollers,
switches, valves
Tough, very high
Polyether Sulphone PES Victrex, Udel chemical resistance, Valves
clear, very high cost
Strong, thermal Aircraft
stability, chemical components,
Polyetheretherketone PEEKEEK resistance, abrasion electrical
resistance, low connectors, pump
moisture absorption impellers, seals
Heat resistance, components
flame resistance, (connectors,
Polyetherimide PEI Ultem
transparent (amber boards, switches),
color) covers, sheilds,
surgical tools
Lightweight, tough
and flexible,
Alkathene, Kitchenware,
Polyethylene - Low excellent chemical
LDPE Escorene, housings, covers,
Density resistance, natural
Novex and containers
waxy appearance,
low cost
Tough and stiff,
Eraclene, excellent chemical Chair seats,
Polyethylene - High
HDPE Hostalen, resistance, natural housings, covers,
Stamylan waxy appearance, and containers
low cost
Tough, heat Automotive
resistance, flame (housings, panels),
resistance, electrical
Polyphenylene Oxide PPO Thermocomp,
dimensional components,
stability, low water housings, plumbing
absorption, components
capability, high cost
Bearings, covers,
Very high strength,
fuel system
Polyphenylene heat resistance,
PPS Ryton, Fortron components,
Sulphide brown, very high
guides, switches,
and shields
Lightweight, heat
resistance, high Automotive
Novolen, chemical resistance, (bumpers, covers,
Polypropylene PP Appryl, scratch resistance, trim), bottles, caps,
Escorene natural waxy crates, handles,
appearance, tough housings
and stiff, low cost.
Polystyrene - General Brittle, transparent, Cosmetics
GPPS Styron,
purpose low cost packaging, pens
Impact strength,
Polystyrol, rigidity, toughness, Electronic
Polystyrene - High
HIPS Kostil, dimensional housings, food
Polystar stability, naturally containers, toys
translucent, low cost
Tough, flexible,
Polyvinyl Chloride - flame resistance,
PVC Welvic, Varlan housewares,
Plasticised transparent or
medical tubing,
opaque, low cost
shoe soles, toys
Tough, flexible, Outdoor
Polyvinyl Chloride - Polycol, flame resistance, applications
Rigid Trosiplast transparent or (drains, fittings,
opaque, low cost gutters)
Stiff, brittle,
Luran, chemical resistance,
Styrene Acrylonitrile SAN Arpylene, heat resistance,
knobs, syringes
Starex hydrolytically stable,
transparent, low cost
Hytrel, Bushings, electrical
Thermoplastic Tough, flexible, high
TPE/R Santoprene, components, seals,
Elastomer/Rubber cost
Sarlink washers