A substance made by melting two or more elements together.An alloy crystallizes upon cooling into a solid solution, mixture, or intermetallic compound. The components of alloys cannot be separated using a physical means. An alloy is homogeneous and retains the properties of a metal, even though it may include metalloids or nonmetals in its composition.
Examples of alloys include stainless steel, brass, bronze, white gold, 14k gold, and sterling silver. Although exceptions exist, most alloys are named for their primary or base metal, with an indication of other elements in order of mass percent.
USES OF ALLOYS
Over 90% of metal use is in the form of alloys. Alloys are used because their chemical and physical properties are superior for an application than that of the pure element components. Typical improvements include corrosion resistance, improved wear, special electrical or magnetic properties, and heat resistance. Other times, alloys are used because they retain the key properties of component metals, yet are less expensive.
Steel – Steel is the name given to an alloy of iron with carbon, usually with other elements, such as nickel and cobalt. The other elements add a desired quality to the steel, such as hardness or tensile strength.
Stainless Steel – Stainless steel is another iron alloy, which typically contains chromium, nickel, and other elements to resist rust or corrosion.18k Gold – 18 karat gold is 75% gold. The other elements typically include copper, nickel, and/or zinc. This alloy retains the color and luster of pure gold, yet is harder and stronger, making it better suited for jewelry.
Brass – Brass is a mixture of copper with zinc and sometimes other elements. Brass is hard and durable, making it suitable for plumbing fixtures and machined parts.
Sterling Silver – Sterling silver is 92.5% silver with copper and other metals. Alloying silver makes it harder and more durable, although the copper tends to lead to a greenish-black oxidation.
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