What is an Alloy? Alloys are substances prepared by adding or introducing one or more elements, which are usually carbon or metals, to a base or to a parent metal to obtain a product with the desirable properties and quality.
Pure metals are rarely used widely because many of them have properties that are unsuitable for most engineering or manufacturing processes and therefore needs to be ‘upgraded’. Properties such as hardness, tensile strength, luster and resistance to corrosion can all be improved my mixing a metal with other elements to give an alloy. A true alloy can therefore be called a uniform mixture and it is usually made by melting the components together leading to their solidification. The components must be soluble in one another in the molten state and must not separate out into distinct layers when the mixture becomes solidified and should not undergo any chemical change during the alloying process.
There are occasions when the metals in an alloy are partially soluble in one another such as in certain types of brass while in some alloys, the metals combine to form intermetallic compounds. For instance, in an aluminum-copper alloy, some of the copper combines with aluminum while the rest form a solid solution with it.
Stainless steel is becoming increasingly popular in households and in hospitals where they are used in the production of hospital surgical instruments. In homes, cutleries such as spoons, forks, knives etc are made of stainless steel likewise surgical instruments used in hospital theaters. It is also used in the production of engineering equipments such as saws, screw drivers and measuring instruments like veneer calipers. Stainless steel is resistant to rust and corrosion and this property make it very useful in producing items for households, hospitals and laboratories. Stainless steel is an alloy of nickel and chromium.
Incorporating cobalt to iron in steel production gives steel of very high magnetic property that can be used in the manufacture of permanent magnets. Steel alloys of molybdenum give products that are resistant to acid corrosion and can be used in automobile body parts for vehicles in regions peculiar with acid rain. Tungsten steel products are very useful as hard steel for making drilling tools and cutting equipments such as chisel used for bench work.