Unit 2

This unit contains basic information pertaining to properties and identification of metal and heat-treating procedures used for metals.


All metals may be classified as ferrous or nonferrous. A ferrous metal has iron as its main element. A metal is still considered ferrous even if it contains less than 50 percent iron, as long as it contains more iron than any other one metal. A metal is nonferrous if it contains less iron than any other metal.

Ferrous. Ferrous metals include cast iron, steel, and the various steel alloys, The only difference between iron and steel is the carbon content. Cast iron contains more than 2-percent carbon, while steel contains less than 2 percent. An alloy is a substance composed of two or more elements. Therefore, all steels are an alloy of iron and carbon, but the term “alloy steel” normally refers to a steel that also contains one or more other elements. For example, if the main alloying element is tungsten, the steel is a "tungsten steel" or "tungsten alloy." If there is no alloying material, it is a "carbon steel."

Nonferrous. Nonferrous metals include a great many metals that are used mainly for metal plating or as alloying elements, such as tin, zinc, silver, and gold. However, this chapter will focus only on the metals used in the manufacture of parts, such as aluminum, magnesium, titanium, nickel, copper, and tin alloys.