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Types and Applications of Materials

Chapters 13-14

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Selecting a material with the right combination of characteristics for a
specific application requires knowledge on the types of the
materials and their applications.

Types of Metal Alloys

1) Ferrous alloys: iron is the prime constituent and these alloys are
produced in large quantities to be used as engineering
construction materials. Their common use is mainly due to;
a) Their existence in abundant quantities
b) Extraction, refining, alloying and fabrication techniques are not
very expensive
c) They can be tailored to have a wide range of mechanical and
physical properties.

Major disadvantage of ferrous alloys is the corrosion.

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Taxonomic classification of ferrous alloys

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Steels are Fe-C alloys that may contain considerably high
concentrations of other alloying elements. The mechanical
properties are sensitive to C content, which is usually less than 1
wt%. Steels can be classified according to C content (low,
medium, and high C types).
1) Low C steels contain <0.25 wt% C and they do not response to
heat treatments to form martensite. Strengthening is made by cold
work. The microstructure is made of ferrite and pearlite; therefore,
they are soft and weak but outstandingly ductile. They are
machinable, weldable and least expensive of all steels.
Typical applications: automobile body components, standard structural
shapes, sheets used in pipelines, buildings, bridges, and tin cans.
Strength of low C steels can be increased by adding alloying elements,
Cu, Mo, Ni, etc., which is then called as high strength low alloy

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This group
is more
resistant to
corrosion and
they can be

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2) Medium C steels have C content of 0.25-0.60 wt%. They can be heat
treated by austenitizing, quenching and tempering to improve the
mechanical properties. They are usually used in their tempered
phase so that the microstructure is similar to tempered martensite.
Plain medium C steels have low hardness numbers. Addition of Cr,
Ni, and Mo can improve the capacity of heat treatability of the alloys,
and increase strength at a sacrifice of ductility and toughness.
Typical applications are railway wheels and tracks, gears, crankshafts.

Designation schemes: Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE),

American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), and ASTM:
They use four digits to define the alloy: XXXX
First two digits indicate the alloy content, last two indicate the C
For plain C steels: 1 and 0 are the first two digits.
1060 steel: plain C steel with a C content of 0.60 wt%.
For alloy steels: 1 and 3, 4 and 1, etc.

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UNS is a unified numbering system for indexing both ferrous and
nonferrous alloys. Each UNS number has a letter prefix followed by
a five digit number. The letter indicates the family of metals to which
an alloy belongs. UNS designation for the medium carbon steels
begins with a G followed by the AISI/SAE number, the 5th digit is a

3) High C Steels contain C between 0.6-1.4 wt% and they are the
hardest, strongest but least ductile of the C steels. They are always
in use in their hardened and tempered condition. They are wear
resistant. They usually contain Cr, vanadium, tungsten and Mo for
higher hardness and used in tools, dies, cutlery dies, shear blades,

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Stainless Steels: are highly resistant to corrosion and their major
alloying element is Cr (at least 11 wt% Cr). Corrosion resistance is
improved by Ni and Mo additions.
Predominant phase constituent of stainless steels formed by three
classes as martensitic, ferritic, and austenitic.

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Martensitic steels are capable of being heat treated. For austenitic
steels, austenite phase can be extended to RT and ferritic steels are
composed of α ferrite (BCC) phase. Austenite and ferritic steels can not
be heat treated and they are strengthened by cold work. Stainless steels are
used at elevated temperatures and severe environmental conditions. This
type of steel is used in gas turbines, high temperature steam boilers,
furnaces, aircraft, missiles, nuclear power generating units.

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Cast Irons
Cast irons are ferrous alloys with a C concentration of 2.14 wt%, but 3-4.5
wt% C concentration is the most commonly employed range.

Melting T is b/w
which is lower
than steels. This
is why they are
easily melted and
amenable to

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Cementite is a metastable compound and it can decompose to form:

Therefore the true

diagram of Fe-C is:

The decomposition
of cementite to
ferrite and graphite
is controlled by the
composition and
rate of cooling.
Graphite formation is fast when
Si concentrations greater than
about 1 wt%. Slow cooling rates
favor the formation of graphite.
Carbon in cast irons is mostly
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Types of cast irons:
a)gray iron: C content: 2.5-4.0 wt % Si content: 1-3 wt%


ferrite or pearlite

gray iron is weak and brittle in tension (graphite flakes form a stress concentrated
regions), while it has a higher strength and ductility under compressive loads. Base
structures of the machines and heavy equipment exposed to vibration are made of
gray iron. Molten state of the gray iron has lower viscosity at casting temperature,
which makes it possible to cast pieces with intricate shapes. Casting shrinkage is low.
Gray iron is not expensive.

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Ductile or nodular iron: adding a small amount of Mg and/or cerium to
gray iron before casting produces a different microstructure and set of
mechanical properties.


pearlite or ferrite depending on heat treatment

Castings are stronger and much more ductile than gray iron.

White Iron and Malleable Iron: If the concentration of Si is low (<1 wt %) and the
cooling rate is fast, then most of the C exists as cementite instead of graphite.

only the surface may have white iron that was chilled
during the casting, gray iron may form at interior parts,
which cool slowly.
White iron is hard brittle, it is not machinable.
Generally white iron is intermediate in the production
of malleable iron.
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Heating white iron between 800 and 9000C for a long time in a neutral
atmosphere causes the decomposition of cementite to graphite.


ferrite or pearlite matrix

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Nonferrous Alloys
Steels and ferrous alloys are used commonly but they have some
limitations in their applications due to
i) High density
ii) Low electrical conductivity
iii) Their reactivity with oxygen (corrosion)

Therefore it is more advantageous to use other alloys with trace

amounts of Fe with properties suitable to environmental
Alloys are classified as cast alloys or wrought alloys. Alloys that are so
brittle that forming or shaping by plastic deformation are cast. On
the other hand, those that are amenable to plastic deformation
are termed as wrought alloys.
“Heat treatable” means that the mechanical strength can be improved
by precipitation hardening or a martensitic transformation.
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Copper and its alloys: Pure Cu is soft and ductile. It has unlimited
capacity for cold work. It is highly resistant to corrosion. The
mechanical properties of Cu can be improved by alloying. Most of
the Cu alloys can not be hardened by heat treating, therefore cold
working or solid solution alloying can be used to improve the
mechanical properties of the metal.

Brass is the most common Cu alloy, which is composed mainly Cu and

Zn (substitutional impurity). Some of the common brasses are
yellow, naval, cartridge brass, etc.

Bronzes are the alloys of Cu and other elements, such as, tin,
aluminum, silicon and nickel. They are stronger than brass and have
a higher resistance to corrosion.

Another precipitation hardenable alloy of Cu is beryllium copper alloys.

They have high tensile strength, excellent electrical and corrosion
properties and wear resistance.
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Aluminum and its alloys: have low density, high electrical and thermal
conductivities, resistance to corrosion. Many of the Al alloys are easily
formed because of high ductility. The melting temperature of Al is low, which
restricts its use at high T environments.
The mechanical strength may be enhanced by cold work and by alloying.
However both processes decrease its resistance to corrosion. Principal
alloying elements are cooper, magnesium, silicon, manganese, and zinc.
Recently the alloys of Al and other low density metals (Ti and Mg) are being
used in transportation vehicles to reduce the fuel consumption.

Magnesium and its alloys: Their major property is their low density (1.7 g/cm3).
They are relatively soft and low elastic modulus. They are difficult to deform
at RT and their m.p. is low. They are chemically instable and may corrode in
marine environments.

Titanium and its alloys: Ti has low density and high m.p. Ti alloys have high
tensile strength and ductile, which makes them machinable. The major
limitation is the chemical reactivity of Ti with other elements at high T. The
resistance to corrosion is high.

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Refractory metals: Metals with extremely high melting temperatures
(2468-34100C) are classified as refractory metals. Niobium (Nb),
tungsten (W), tantalum (Ta) are in this group. They are strong with
tensile strengths and hardnesses at ambient and elevated

Superalloys: have superlative and very specific properties. Most are

used in aircraft turbine components. These materials are classified
based on the major metal in the alloy.

The Noble Metals: Group 8 elements. They are expensive and

precious. They are soft, ductile and oxidation resistant.

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Fabrication of Metals
Fabrication techniques are the methods used to form or manufacture
the components that may be incorporated in useful products. They
are normally preceded by refining, alloying, and often heat treating
processes used to produce alloys with desired characteristics.

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Forming Operations- are to change the shape of the metal by plastic
Rolling is simply the
Forging: is passage of a piece of
mechanically metal between two rolls,
working or to reduce the thickness.
deforming a
single piece of
a hot metal.

Extrusion:a bar
of metal is forced
through a die
orifice by a
compressive force.
The extruded piece
has the desired shape Drawing is the pulling of a metal piece
and thickness. through a die having a tapered bore by
means of a tensile force on the exit side.
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When deformation is achieved at a temperature above that at which
recrystallization occurs, the process is termed hot working,
otherwise it is called cold working.
When the piece is hot worked, the deformation is large, which may be
successively repeated since the metal remains soft and ductile.
The energy required for this is less as a result.
Cold working increases the strength of the material while reducing
ductility. The finished product has a better surface quality,
mechanical properties compared to hot worked product.

Casting Operations-Totally molten metal is poured into a mold cavity

having the desired shape: metal assumes the mold shape as
solidification. Casting is usually employed when,
1. finished shape is so large or complicated to produce by any other
2. ductility of the material is so low that forming either by hot or cold
working is impractical.
3. it is the most economic option compared to other operations.

There are different types: sand, die, investment, continuous casting.

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Powder technology: involves the compaction of powdered metal
followed by a heat treatment to produce a more dense piece. This
technology produces nonporous piece and diffusion process has the
major role in the development of desired properties. This method is
suitable for the materials with low ductility and high melting point.

Welding: two or more metal parts are joined to form a single piece.
Both similar or dissimilar metals can be welded. The joining is
metallurgical rather than just mechanical. Variety of techniques,
such as, arc and gas welding as well as brazing and soldering are
available. During arc and gas welding the parts and filler material
are brought to high temperature to cause both to melt and upon
solidification the filler material forms a fusion joint between the parts.
The region adjacent to weld may experience some alterations in
microstructure and properties. This region is called heat affected

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Thermal Processing of Metals-Annealing
Annealing is heat treatment in which a material is exposed to an
elevated temperature for an extended time period and then slow
Annealing is carried out
1) to relieve stresses
2) increase softness, ductility and toughness
3) produce a specific microstructure
There are three major stages of the process as follows:
a) heating to desired temperature
b) holding at that temperature
c) cooling usually to RT

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Time is important in all of the steps. For example, the rate of heating or
cooling affects the development of internal stresses if the
temperature gradient between the surface of the material and its
interior parts is large. The development of internal stress may end
up with a wrap or crack. Also the period of time of holding the
material at high temperature is important for the required
Process Annealing-is the heat treatment of a cold worked material to
negate the effects of cold work by softening and increasing the
ductility of the material. Recovery and recrystallization processes
are allowed to occur. Since fine grained microstructure is usually
desired, heat treatment is terminated before appreciable grain
Stress Relief-internal stress is a problem and may occur in response to
1) plastic deformation processes, such as, machining and grinding
2) nonuniform cooling
3) a phase transformation that is induced upon cooling wherein
parent and product phases have different densities.
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The residual stresses should be removed from the material to prevent
distortion and warpage. Stress relief annealing involves maintaing
the material at uniform annealing T for a long time and then cooling
to RT in air.

Annealing of Ferrous Alloys

There are different annealing procedures for property improvement of
the steels.

upper critical T lines

for hypo and hyper-
eutectoid alloys

lower critical T

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Normalizing: Steels that have been plastically deformed by any process
(rolling), with grains of pearlite (proeutectoid or eutectoid) can be
strengthened by heat treatment called normalizing by producing
more uniform and desirable size grains. Normalizing is generally
accomplished by heating to 55-850C above the upper critical T. Time
is provided long enough for complete formation of austenite (called
austenizing) and then the treatment is terminated by cooling in air.
Full anneal: This treatment is given to low- and medium carbon steels
which will be machined or experience severe plastic deformation.
The alloy is austenitized at T above 15-400C of the A3 or A1 lines.
The alloy is then furnace cooled. The microstructural product of this
anneal is coarse pearlite.
Spheroidizing: Medium- and high C steels with a microstructure
containing even coarse pearlite may be too hard to plastically
deform or machine. They can be annealed to develop spheroidite
structure, which is the softest and most ductile steel structure. For
this heat the alloy at a temperature just below the eutectoid T.

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Heat Treatment of Steels
To produce martensite, conventional heat treatment involves continuous and
rapid cooling of an austenitized specie in a quenching medium, such as air, water,
oil, etc. The fraction of austinite converted to martensite determines the optimum
properties of the material. If there is a formation of bainite or pearlite, then there is
a different set of properties. Since it is almost impossible to cool austenite at a
uniform cooling rate, there will be variations in the microstructure of the product.

To be able have a successful cooling yielding predominantly martensitic structure

throughout the cross section, three major factors should be considered:

1) the composition of the alloy

2) the type and character of the quenching medium
3) the size and shape of the specimen.

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Hardenability-the influence of alloy composition on the ability of
austenite to transform to martensite for a particular quenching
treatment is related to a parameter called “hardenability.” This
parameter is about the relationship between the mechanical
properties and the cooling rate.
Hardenability is not hardness. Hardenability is a term used to describe
the ability of an alloy to be hardened by the formation of martensite
as a result of a given heat treatment. A steel alloy with a high
hardenability is one that hardens or forms marensite, not only at the
surface but throughout the interior.
Standard procedure to determine hardenability is the Jominy end-
quench test. Except for alloy composition, all factors that influence
the depth to which the piece hardens are maintained constant.
Specimen is cylindrical with 1.0 in. diameter and 4.0 in. long austenitized
at a prescribed temperature for specified time. After its removal from
the furnace, the specimen is mounted in a fixture.

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cooling rate is maximum here
After it is cooled down to RT, shallow
but diminishes along the length
flats 0.4 mm deep are ground along the
of the specimen
specimen length and Rockwell hardness
are measured along each flat.

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The use of hardenability curves: The quenched end is cooled most
rapidly and exhibits the maximum hardness; 100% martensite is the
product at this position for most steels. As cooling rate decreases
the hardness also decreases. This is because there is time for C
diffusion to form pearlite, which is softer than martensite.

Each steel has its own unique hardenability curve.

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Sometimes relating hardness to a cooling rate is more convenient:

The cooling rate is the same

for plain steel and other alloy
steels because the rate of heat
transfer is independent of
composition. It is clear that at
each Jominy positions different
type of microstructure is observed.

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The hardenability curves of five different steels all with 0.40 wt% C, but
different amounts of alloying elements:

All alloys have the same hardness (57 HRC) at the quenched end.
Plain carbon 1040 steel has lower hardness and it decreases after a short
Jominy distance.
The decreases in the hardness of the other steels with distance are gradual.

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At the quenched end, rate of quenching is highest around 6000C/s,
100% martensite is present for all five alloys. For cooling rates less
than 700C/s, the microstructure of steel 1040 is mainly pearlitic with
some proeutectoid ferrite. The other alloys have a mixture of bainite
and pearlite at this level of cooling rates.
The hardenability of the steels also depend on C content:

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During industrial production of steel, there is always a variation in
hardenability data:

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Influencing of Quenching Medium, Specimen Size, and Geometry
Water produces the most severe quench, followed by oil, which is more
effective than air.
Agitation degree influences the rate of heat removal.
Increasing the velocity of the medium increases the effectiveness of
During quenching, the rate of cooling within and throughout the interior
of a steel structure varies with position and this depends on the size
and geometry of the material.

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One of the uses of these diagrams is the prediction of the hardness
traverse along the cross section of a specimen.

The rate of cooling for a particular quenching treatment depends on the ratio of
surface area to the mass of the specimen. The larger this ratio, the more rapid will
be cooling rate and deeper the hardening effect as a result..

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