Materials Properties

by Ben Alford

    Name

Material group Properties Processing Appearance where it’s used
ALUMINIUM
Non ferrous metal Low density, reasonably  strong, resists corrosion, plentiful Easy to shape with metal tools, can be welded, riveted, bolted or glued Bright silver quickly tarnishing to pale grey (may be anodised into bright metallic colours) Aircraft, Bicycle frames, Aerials, drinks cans
Mild STEEL Ferrous Metal; alloy of iron and 0.5% carbon High density, strong, corrodes easily (rust), plentiful Moderately easy to shape with metal tools, can be welded, riveted, bolted Metallic grey Car bodies, furniture, building
BRASS Alloy of copper and zinc High density, reasonably strong, resists corrosion, good conductor Easy to shape with metal tools, can be soldered, riveted or bolted Yellow metallic tarnishing to yellow brown Taps, electrical plug pins, marine fittings, door handles
Stainless STEEL Ferrous alloy of iron nickel chromium and cadmium High density, strong, resists corrosion, expensive Requires care to shape, can be welded, riveted, bolted Bright silver (often brushed finish to reduce need for cleaning) Cutlery, Sinks, cooking pans
Galvanised STEEL Mild steel coated with zinc a non ferrous metal High density, tough, resists corrosion Moderately easy to shape with metal tools, can be riveted, or bolted not welded Metallic grey with large zinc crystal showing on the surface Fence posts, dustbins, trailers
PolyPropylenePP Thermoforming Plastic Low density, flexible, tough, melts at low temperature, Durable, Fusible Moderately easy to shape, can be welded, riveted, or bolted, difficult to glue Any solid colour also available as translucent “jelly” colours Packaging, low price furniture,
PINE Soft wood Low density, Quick growing inexpensive, Soft, not durable unless treated Easy to shape with wood tools, can be glued or screwed Pall yellow with broad brown grain Interior wood work, low cost furniture
BEECH Hard wood Low density, close attractive grain, smooth finish Easy to shape with wood tools, can be glued or screwed Attractive Honey coloured grain Interior furniture, toys,
PLYWOOD Man made board Low density, strong all directions, available in large sheets, can be bent Easy to shape with wood tools, can be glued or screwed Stripy edged – very thin layers of timber glued at 90° to each other Furniture, building,
CHIPBOARD Man made board Tough, not Durable, willrot and disintegrate when wet Easy to shape with wood tools, can be glued or screwed Made from small chip of timber Low cost interior wood work and furniture
OAK Hard wood medium density, Hard, tough and durable Moderately easy to shape with wood tools, can be glued or screwed Very attractive grain, Interior or exterior wood work and furniture
COPPER Non ferrous metal ductile, durable, resists corrosion, excellent conductor Easy to shape with metal tools, can be soldered, riveted or bolted Reddish brown metallic Electrical wires, pipes

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