More often than not, our customers have a pretty clear idea of what types of metal they need. But that's not always the case. Sometimes a customer comes to us asking, “What types of metal will I need for this project?” When we’re faced with that question, it always helps to start at the beginning.WHAT DOES A METAL BUYER NEED TO KNOW?
We hope that any customer who calls Mead Metals knows the material type and alloy they need, along with whether they'll need it in coil or sheet. But sometimes even these seemingly simple questions can be difficult to answer. Not to worry. This article explores some of the most common metals, their properties, and their applications to help answer these basic questions.
Determining these factors before reaching out to a service center will make ordering, shipping, and receiving a much simpler process. Here's how Mead Metals will help you the rest of the way…
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF METAL?
If you know very little about the industry, the world of metal can feel vast and technical. After all, there are thousands of different types of metals out there.
If you’re looking for a true workhorse when it comes to practical applications, steel, copper, brass, and bronze will do the job more often than not. Mead Metals provides each of these, with plenty of customization and value-adding services alongside. If navigating all of this feels overwhelming, we’re here to break it down for you. Read on to learn about the strengths, weaknesses, and popular applications of each of these metals.
Steel is one of the most popular metals in the world. Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. It has the strength and magnetic properties of iron, while the introduction of carbon increases its strength and corrosion resistance. Steel can be cold-rolled, annealed, tempered, spring, or stainless.
- Cold rolling is when the steel is rolled out to its final thickness at room temperature instead of using heat. Cold rolling increases steel’s strength and is best used when precision manufacturing is important.
- Annealed steel, on the other hand, is heated to a specific temperature to improve its ductility and reduce its hardness. Annealing makes steel more workable.
- Tempered steel will be tougher than untempered steel. But tempering is a very flexible process. Different temperatures will result in different levels of ductility, elasticity, and plasticity.
- Spring steels are designed specifically with yield strength in mind. Yield strength is the ability of a metal to absorb stress and “spring” back to its original form.
- And the well-known stainless steels introduce the element chromium to further reduce corrosion.
Copper is one of the first metals humans used in large quantities due to its availability, high ductility, electrical and thermal conductivity, and antimicrobial properties. It can be used in its pure form or combined into an alloy with beryllium.
Pure copper is softer, more conductive, more aesthetically pleasing, and more protective against microorganisms. It is often used in wiring, electrical components, motors, cooking utensils, protective coatings, decorations, and jewelry.
Beryllium copper, or BeCu, is much stronger and less conductive. This makes it a good alternative to steel for manufacturing tools and other applications where fatigue strength is needed. The non-magnetic properties of both copper and beryllium copper make them popular choices for projects where magnetism is undesirable.
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. It has a gold-like color, a low melting point, high workability, thermal and electrical conductivity, and is highly durable. It does not spark and works well in applications that require low friction such as locks, hinges, and bearings. It’s also a popular metal for the production of musical instruments because it is easy to shape and does not corrode easily.
Mead Metals carries brass stock items in a wide variety of gauges and tempering levels.
Bronze is another copper alloy, very similar to brass. But whereas brass contains copper and zinc, bronze is composed of copper and tin. It has a lot of the same properties as brass including high ductility and corrosion resistance. Because of this, it is useful in many similar applications.
A popular style of bronze is phosphor bronze. The introduction of phosphorus increases its wear resistance and stiffness and lowers its coefficient of friction. These properties make it ideal for springs, bolts, bearings, and switches.
Mead Metals’ stock includes phosphor bronze in the gauges and tempers that you need for your project.
We work to understand a metal buyer's needs
Once we’ve determined the correct metal for a customer’s project, we take the time to understand a customer's application and the unique needs that come along with it.
We don't expect our customers to be complete experts. That’s our job, after all. If you're unsure about variables like which temper or thickness range is appropriate, we can help. We're also able to help customers understand which tolerances and capabilities the mills offer. That's an area of expertise we own.
We know what we don't know
We're confident in our approach to helping customers and selling metal products. But there are times when the staff at Mead Metals simply doesn't have the expertise to get you the information you need. It could be because a customer doesn't have enough information to create a clear picture of their needs. Or it could be a situation where the information a customer needs is data that can only come from tests performed during melting.
Regardless, instead of recommending or selling a metal product that might work, we know when a customer's needs are outside of what we're able to offer. In these situations, we're upfront about it. And oftentimes we’re able to steer customers in the right direction.
At Mead Metals, we're experts in the areas where we serve our customers. And we always want customers to get the right metal material for their project, whether it’s through us or not.
No matter where you are in your metal buying journey, Mead Metals is here to help. If you have the time, educate yourself on the types of metals by downloading our whitepapers on each of them. And when you’re ready to get started, contact us for a free quote to get started on your project today.