What’s ferrous metal?

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Ferrous metals contain iron and are often magnetic. They are used in manufacturing for products such as steel beams, machine parts, and cookware. Cast iron and wrought iron are examples of ferrous metals, with different properties and uses. Steel is the most common type of ferrous metal, with various compositions for different purposes. Stainless steel is known for its corrosion resistance, while high-strength steel is used in heavy-duty gears and engines.

The word “ferrous” comes from the Latin word for iron, ferrum. Therefore, ferrous metals are those that have an iron component. Ferrous metals tend to be magnetic and can be pure iron or any alloy that contains iron. All forms of steel and iron are considered ferrous metals; any form of metal that does not have an iron component can be said to be non-ferrous.

Almost all types of ferrous metals see extensive use in manufacturing. Depending on the composition, they can be used in a variety of products, from steel beams, to machine parts, to cookware. Iron which defines a metal as ferrous is very important for metal production, as its strength, corrosion susceptibility, and hardness properties will change depending on the other materials added.

Cast iron is a basic form of iron medallion which results from combining iron ore with a high carbon fuel, creating a fragile and not very durable product. Creating cast iron is typically an intermediate step to making steel or wrought iron, as the initial high-carbon product can be remelted and adjusted to have the desired properties by burning carbon and adding other metals. Many other ferrous metals start out as iron ore first, then are processed into pig iron before being processed into another type of finished metal.

Wrought iron is used in decorative materials, such as delicately carved metal gates. It has an exceptionally low carbon content and has the advantage of being easily mouldable. Wrought iron was used in the creation of nails, rivets and pipes before being replaced by the stronger and stronger steel alloys. A shape of wrought iron is the main component of the Eiffel Tower, the tallest and most recognizable building in Paris.

Different types of steel make up the majority of ferrous metals in commercial use today. Steel is divided by type based on the amount of carbon or other agents mixed with the iron. Depending on the composition, the ferrous metals that fall under the heading steel can have distinct uses. Stainless steel, for example, is known for its bright finish and high resistance to corrosion, and is often used in pipe construction and for kitchen knives. The high-strength steel is blended with nickel and chromium and most of the carbon is removed, leaving an extremely strong alloy that is used in heavy-duty gears and engine construction.

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