20 Different Types of Metal And Their Properties

Metals and technological advances in manufacturing processes gave humans the industrial revolution. This led to an exponential development of human civilization that has led us to where we are today. There are now different types of metals all around us.

What Is a Metal?

Metals are opaque, lustrous elements that are good conductors of heat and electricity. Most metals are malleable and ductile and are, in general, denser than the other elemental substances.

Metals are usually very strong, durable and highly resistant to daily wear and tear. As such, they have been used for many things since ancient times. And even today, with advances in technology and many other things, the use of metals has greatly expanded. Metals even play a key role in the economy. Let’s look at some important and popular metal uses.

  • Construction: Nails in conventional lumber construction and structural steel inother buildings.
  • Electronic devices: Boilers, turbines, generators, transformers, power lines, nuclear reactors, oil wells, and pipelines.
  • Transportation: Cars, buses, trucks, trains, ships, and airplanes.
  • Food processing: Microwave and conventional ovens and refrigerators and freezers
  • Biomedical applications: As artificial replacement for joints and other prostheses.
  • In medicine:
  • Machinery, Refractory and Automobiles
  • Decorative products
  • Other Uses

When choosing a suitable metal for a specific application, several factors must be considered. These factors include ease of machining, melting point, available space, sufficient safety factors, temperature coefficient, density, and electrical and thermal conductivity. Let’s look at different types of metals and why they are chosen for their applications.

Different Types of Metals

Metals can be divided into two main groups: ferrous metals are those which contain iron and non-ferrous metals are those which contain no iron.

These are the different types of Metal:

  1. Steel.
  2. Iron (Wrought or Cast)
  3. Aluminum.
  4. Magnesium.
  5. Copper.
  6. Brass.
  7. Bronze.
  8. Zinc.
  9. Titanium
  10. Tungsten
  11. Nickel
  12. Cobalt
types of metal

IRON (Wrought or Cast)

Iron, which makes up about 5% of the earth’s crust and is the sixth most abundant element in the world, is a very abundant and very popular type of metal. Pure iron is an unstable element that easily reacts with oxygen in the air to form iron oxide. To make it more stable, it is usually alloyed with other elements to make steel.

Iron is used in cooking utensils to prevent porous surfaces from sticking together with hot oil. Cast iron, which has a very high melting point, is used to make wood stoves. As a heavy metal, iron creates stiffness and reduces vibration. As such, it is often used to make frames and bases for heavy equipment.

Blast furnace is used to extract iron from ores. Pig iron is extracted from the first stage of the blast furnace and can be further converted into pure iron. This iron is often steel and other alloys. Nearly 90% of the metals produced are ferrous metals.

For example, it is the main component of steel. But beyond that, here are some other uses and explanations of why iron is used:

  • Cookware – The porous surface burns off cooking oil to create a naturally non-stick surface.
  • Wood StovesCast iron has a very high melting point, so the stoves can withstand high temperatures.
  • Heavy Equipment Base and Frame – This heavy-duty metal reduces vibration and provides rigidity.

For example, steel is a ferrous metal that can be used in many different applications. You cannot understand the true potential of iron without knowing steel.

STEEL

Pure iron is stronger than other types of metals, but it leaves something behind. First, pure iron is not resistant to corrosion. It takes a lot of money and energy to prevent iron corrosion. On the other hand, it is very heavy due to its high density. These drawbacks can make the construction and maintenance of the structure difficult.

Adding carbon to iron partially overcomes these weaknesses. This mixture of iron and carbon to a certain extent is known as carbon steel. Adding carbon to iron makes it much stronger and gives it other great properties.

It is probably the most abundant metal in the modern world. By definition, steel is simply iron (an element) mixed with carbon. This ratio is usually about 99% iron and 1% carbon, but this ratio can vary slightly.

In 2017, more than 1.8 billion tons of steel were produced worldwide (half of which was produced in China). The average weight of an African elephant is about 5 tons. Even if you piled elephants on top of each other to make a really weird bridge to the moon (which is really impossible), it still wouldn’t weigh as much as the steel produced every year.

There are different types of steel. Here is an overview of the main types:

Carbon Steel

This is the basic steel is good carbon and iron, but other elements can be added in very small amounts. The three general categories are low carbon steel, medium carbon steel, and high carbon steel. More carbon means harder and stronger. Less carbon means cheaper, softer and easier to build.

Carbon steel is mostly used as construction materials, simple mechanical parts and various tools.

Alloy Steel

Think of it as genetically modified steel. Alloy steels are made by adding other elements to the mix. This changes the properties and makes the metal inherently tunable. It is a very common type of metal and generally very cheap to make.

Common alloying elements in steel are manganese, vanadium, chromium, nickel and tungsten. Each of these elements changes the properties of the metal in different ways.

For example, alloy steels can add strength to high-performance gears, add corrosion and wear resistance to medical implants, and increase the pressure that pipelines can withstand. Widely regarded as the workhorse of the metal world.

Stainless Steel

Technically, it’s a type of steel alloy, but there are so many varieties that it usually has its own category. This is a steel that places particular emphasis on corrosion resistance.

It is basically steel with the right amount of chromium. Chromium forms a very thin barrier during corrosion and delays rusting. Scratching off the barrier, a new one will immediately form.

It is commonly found in kitchens. Knives, tables, dishes, anything that comes in contact with food.

Note: Just because it’s stainless doesn’t mean it won’t rust. Different compounds prevent rust to different degrees. Stainless steel used around seawater must be especially corrosion resistant so that it does not corrode. However, all types of stainless will rust if not properly cleaned and cared for.

More Resources: What is Stainless Steel?

ALUMINUM

Aluminum is mainly deriving from bauxite ore. Light, strong, and functional. It is the most common metal on earth and its use is everywhere.

This is due to properties such as durability, light weight, corrosion resistance, electrical conductivity and the ability to form alloys with most metals. In addition, it is non-magnetic and easy to process.

As far as metal goes, it’s really modern metal. Aluminum was first produced in 1825 and has been the basis of great achievements ever since.

Read more: Who Discover The Aluminum?

For example, due to its amazing strength-to-weight ratio, it is the metal that has contributed greatly to man’s flight to the moon. It’s easy to formed (it’s malleable) and doesn’t rust, so it’s perfect for soda cans. And, (arguably) most importantly, it can be made into a really thin sheet that can be used to BBQ fresh-caught fish to moist perfection.

The manufacturing process of aluminum is a bit more complicated than other metals, but it is actually a very common metal. It is the most common non-ferrous metal (without iron) on earth.

It does not rust, but oxidizes. By definition, iron is the only metal that actually “rusts”. Aluminum corrodes when exposed to salt. But it does not corrode in contact with water. This makes aluminum very useful for building things like freshwater boats.

MAGNESIUM

Magnesium is a really cool metal. Its weight is about 2/3 of aluminum and it has the same strength. For this reason, it is becoming more popular day by day. Often this appears as an alloy. It means mixing it with metals and other elements to create hybrid materials with special properties. This also makes it easier to use in manufacturing processes.

One of the most common applications of magnesium is in the automotive industry. Magnesium is seen as a step up from aluminum in weight reduction with high strength and is astronomically cheaper.

High-performance cars use magnesium in wheel rims, engine blocks, and transmission cases. However, magnesium also has disadvantages. It is easier to corrode than aluminum. For example, it corrodes in contact with water, while aluminum does not.

In general, it costs about twice as much as aluminum, but is generally processed faster in production. Magnesium is highly flammable and burns at very high temperatures. Metal chips, filings and powder must be disposed of carefully to avoid explosion.

COPPER

When talking about different types of metals, copper and its alloys cannot be ignored. It has a long history because it is easy to mold. Today, it is still an important metal in industry. It does not exist in nature in its pure form. Therefore, smelting and extraction from ore is necessary.

Metals are excellent conductors, and copper stands out from the rest. Due to its excellent electrical conductivity, it is used as a conductor in electrical circuits. Its conductivity is second only to silver. It also has excellent thermal conductivity. Therefore, many cooking utensils are made of copper.

Copper is also an old metal. Today it is usually found in alloys (more on that later) or in a relatively pure state. Common uses include electronics, water pipes, and giant statues of liberty. Copper forms a patina or oxide layer that actually prevents further corrosion. It basically turns green and stops corrosion. This allows it to last for centuries.

The Statue of Liberty is made of copper and coated with a layer of patina or oxide that gives it a bluish-green appearance.

BRASS

Brass is actually an alloy of copper and zinc. The resulting yellow metal is very useful for many reasons. Its golden color makes it very popular for ornamental purposes. This metal is commonly found in antique furniture handles and knobs.

The amount of each metal is different depending on the desired electrical and mechanical properties of the metal. It also contains small amounts of other metal elements such as aluminum, lead and manganese.

Brass is ideal for low friction applications such as locks, bearings, piping, musical instruments, tools and accessories. It is essential for intrinsically safe applications to prevent sparks and enable use in flammable environments.

It is also very malleable and can be stamped and shaped. Another great property of rice is that it never sparks. For example, steel hammers can spark when struck in certain ways. A brass hammer won’t do it. This means that brass tools are suitable for areas that may be around flammable gases, liquids or powders.

BRONZE

Bronze is also an alloy of copper. However, bronze contains tin instead of zinc. The addition of other elements such as phosphorus, manganese, silicon and aluminum may improve its properties and suitability for specific applications.

Bronze is brittle, hard and resistant to fatigue. It also has excellent electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity and corrosion resistance. Bronze is used to make mirrors and reflectors. Used for electrical connections. Due to its corrosion resistance, it is used for underwater parts and ship accessories.

Bronze has great historical significance (like the Bronze Age) and is an easy choice. It is seen in the bells of giant churches. Bronze is hard and strong, so it won’t crack or bend like other metals when struck with a step. It also has a better sound.

Modern applications include sculpture and art, springs and bearings, and guitar strings. Bronze was the first man-made alloy.

ZINC

Zinc is a metal that is present everywhere and has many applications in medical and industrial sectors. Zinc is a very common metal used in coatings to protect other metals. For example, it’s common to see galvanized steel, which is basically just steel coated with zinc to help prevent rusting. Zinc is also used to make die castings for the electrical, hardware, and automotive industries.

Due to the low electrochemical potential of zinc, its applications include marine applications to prevent corrosion of other metals by cathodic protection. Sacrificial zinc anodes may protect valves, pipelines, and tanks.

It is an interesting metal because it is very useful. As such, it has a very low melting point, making it very easy to cast. This material flows easily during melting and the resulting parts are relatively hard. It is also very easy to melt and recycle.

TITANIUM

Titanium is an important engineering metal because it is strong and light. It also has high thermal stability even at a temperature above 480 degrees Celsius. These features are used in the aerospace industry.

Military equipment is one of the examples of the use of this metal. Titanium is also used in medical applications due to its excellent corrosion resistance. Titanium is also used in the chemical industry and sports goods.

This modern metal is really great. It was first discovered in 1791, first made in pure form in 1910, and first made outside the laboratory in 1932. Titanium is actually really common (the 7th most abundant metal on Earth), but it’s really hard to refine. That is why this metal is so expensive. It is also very worth it.

Titanium is biocompatible and the body does not resist or reject it. Medical implants are generally made of titanium. Its strength to weight ratio is higher than any other metal. This makes it a great value for anything that flies.

Titanium nitride (titanium reacted with nitrogen in a high-energy vacuum) is a very hard, low-friction coating applied to metal cutting tools. Titanium itself does not occur naturally. It is always dependent on another element.

TUNGSTEN

Tungsten has the highest melting point and the highest tensile strength of all pure metals. This makes it very convenient.

About half of all tungsten is used to make tungsten carbide. It is a very hard material used in cutting tools (for mining and metalworking), abrasives and heavy equipment. Easily cuts titanium and high temperature superalloys.

This name is derived from “tungsten”, which means heavy stone in Swedish. Its density is about 1.7 times that of lead. Tungsten is also a popular alloying element. Its melting point is so high that it is often alloyed with other elements to make things like rocket nozzles that must withstand extreme temperatures.

NICKEL

Nickel is a very common element that is used everywhere. Its most common use is in the production of stainless steel, where it increases the strength and corrosion resistance of metals. In fact, nearly 70% of the world’s nickel is used to make stainless steel.

Interestingly, nickel only makes up 25% of the composition of the US five-cent coin. Nickel is also a common metal used in plating and alloying. It can be used to cover laboratory and chemical equipment as well as anything that requires a very smooth and polished surface.

The name nickel is derived from medieval German folklore. Nickel ore is very similar to copper ore, but when the old miners couldn’t get copper out of it, they blamed a mischievous sprite named Nickel.

COBALT

It is a metal that has long been used as a blue pigment in dyes and paints. Today, it is mainly used to produce high strength and wear resistant steel alloys. Cobalt is rarely mined alone and is actually a by-product of copper and nickel production.

TIN

Tin is really soft and malleable. It is used as an alloying element to make things like bronze (1/8 tin, 7/8 copper). It is also the main component of pewter (85-99%). When you bend a tin rod, it makes a sound called a “tin cry”. This is the spinning sound when the crystal structure reorganizes itself called twinning.

LEAD

Lead is very soft, malleable and very dense and heavy. It also has a relatively low melting point. Lead metal has high machinability and excellent corrosion resistance. Piping and paint show multiple uses.

Lead was used as an anti-knock agent in gasoline. This lead byproduct was later found to be responsible for serious health complications. Today, lead is still common in ammunition, car batteries, radiation shielding, heavy lifting, and cable sheathing.

In the 1800s it was discovered that lead is actually quite toxic. As such, it’s not very common in modern times, but it wasn’t that long ago that it was still seen in paint, bullets, and the like.

Lead is a neurotoxin and can cause brain damage and behavioral problems, among other things.

That said, it still has modern uses – for example for excellent radiation protection. It is also sometimes added to copper alloys to facilitate cutting. A mixture of copper and lead is often used to improve the performance of bearings.

SILICON

Technically, silicon is a semi-metal. This means that it has both metallic and non-metallic properties. For example, it looks like metal. It is hard, shiny, bendable and has a high melting point. But it does a terrible job of transmitting electricity. That’s part of the reason it’s not considered full metal.

However, it is a common element found in metals. When used in alloying, it can significantly change the properties of metals. For example, adding silicon to aluminum makes welding easier.

CHROMIUM

Chromium is the second hardest physical element after carbon, probably diamond. It is usually used as an alloy to improve the strength of other metals.

The melting point of the metal is up to about 2000 degrees Celsius. Chrome has a unique reflective appearance and can be used to enhance the surface of other metals.

LITHIUM

Lithium is classified in the soft metal or metal alkali group. It has an attractive silver-white luster. Lithium is used to improve the strength of glasses and ceramics.

Types of Metal (List of Metals)

This is a list of metals in order of increasing atomic number.

S.NoAtomic NumberSymbolMetal Elements
13LiLithium
24BeBeryllium
311NaSodium
412MgMagnesium
513AlAluminum
619KPotassium
720CaCalcium
821ScScandium
922TiTitanium
1023VVanadium
1124CrChromium
1225MnManganese
1326FeIron
1427CoCobalt
1528NiNickel
1629CuCopper
1730ZnZinc
1831GaGallium
1937RbRubidium
2038SrStrontium
2139YYttrium
2240ZrZirconium
2341NbNiobium
2442MoMolybdenum
2543TcTechnetium
2644RuRuthenium
2745RhRhodium
2846PdPalladium
2947AgSilver
3048CdCadmium
3149InIndium
3250SnTin
3355CsCesium
3456BaBarium
3557LaLanthanum
3658CeCerium
3759PrPraseodymium
3860NdNeodymium
3961PmPromethium
4062SmSamarium
4163EuEuropium
4264GdGadolinium
4365TbTerbium
4466DyDysprosium
4567HoHolmium
4668ErErbium
4769TmThulium
4870YbYtterbium
4971LuLutetium
5072HfHafnium
5173TaTantalum
5274WTungsten
5375ReRhenium
5476OsOsmium
5577IrIridium
5678PtPlatinum
5779AuGold
5880HgMercury
5981TlThallium
6082PbLead
6183BiBismuth
6284PoPolonium
6387FrFrancium
6488RaRadium
6589AcActinium
6690ThThorium
6791PaProtactinium
6892UUranium
6993NpNeptunium
7094PuPlutonium
7195AmAmericium
7296CmCurium
7397BkBerkelium
7498CfCalifornium
7599EsEinsteinium
76100FmFermium
77101MdMendelevium
78102NoNobelium
79103LrLawrencium
80104RfRutherfordium
81105DbDubnium
82106SgSeaborgium
83107BhBohrium
84108HsHassium
85109MtMeitnerium
86110DsDarmstadtium
87111RgRoentgenium
88112CnCopernicium
89113NhNihonium
90114FlFlerovium
91115McMoscovium
92116LvLivermorium

FAQs.

What is Metal?

A metal is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appearance, and conducts electricity and heat relatively well. Metals are typically ductile and malleable. These properties are the result of the metallic bond between the atoms or molecules of the metal.

What are the Types of Metals?

Let us look at different types of metals and the reason they are selected for their applications.
1. Iron. Iron comprises almost 5% of the Earth.
2. Steel. Although pure iron is stronger than most metals, it is prone to corrosion.
3. Copper.
4. Bronze.
5. Brass.
6. Aluminium.
7. Titanium.
8. Lead.

What are the 10 examples of metals?

Examples of metals are aluminum, copper, iron, tin, gold, lead, silver, titanium, uranium, and zinc. Well-known alloys include bronze and steel. The study of metals is called metallurgy.

What are the four groups of metals?

These metals can be further classified as alkali metals, alkaline earth metals, transition metals, and basic metals.

What are the 20 elements of metal?

Metals in the first twenty elements are Lithium, Beryllium, Sodium, magnesium, Aluminum, Potassium, and calcium. Now the non-metals in the first twenty elements are Hydrogen, Helium, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Fluorine, Neon, Phosphorous, Sulphur, Chlorine, and Argon.

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