Non-ferrous metals have been in existence for centuries and were the first metals used by humans for metallurgy. Gold, silver, and copper were amongst the most attractive metals for early humans because these were not as susceptible to corrosion as ferrous metals.
Copper was the first metal to be forged and shaped into useful objects during the ‘Copper Age’. Wood and stone were replaced with gold, silver, and copper for various applications since they were easily moldable.
Recycling non-ferrous metals
Non-ferrous metals are widely used for industrial purposes due to their phenomenal properties. The scraps of these non-ferrous metals are recycled and form an important part of the metallurgy industry. Scrap metals are recycled to make new metals using the re-smelting and re-casting processes for non-ferrous metals.
Uses of non-ferrous metals
Non-ferrous metals have a wide range of industrial, commercial, and residential applications. The selection of non-ferrous metals relies on whether their mechanical properties would suit the application and if these properties will be altered during the molding process.
Most of the properties of ferrous metals can be found in non-ferrous materials, such as titanium alloys or aluminum can replace steel in some applications, and cobalt, nickel or other alloys can emulate the magnetic properties of iron. But since non-ferrous metals are more expensive, they are used for their unique attributes rather than as a replacement for steel.
Reasons why non-ferrous metals are suitable for industrial uses
Non-ferrous metals possess unique attributes that make them suitable for industrial purposes along with their use in construction activities. They are corrosion-resistant, conducive to heat and electricity, and have a low density. As compared to other materials, non-ferrous metals are lighter in weight and easy to fabricate using welding, casting, and machine processes.
The malleability of non-ferrous metals makes them a preferred choice for engineering processes as they can be easily shaped into any form. Copper, nickel, chromium, and zinc in their pure and alloyed forms are the most commonly used metals in the engineering industries.
Industrial processes require metals to have a high tensile strength at elevated temperatures along with good electrical conductivity and high ductility. Since non-ferrous metals cater to all these requirements, they are widely used in engineering industries
Aluminum and its alloys are commonly used in the construction sector and are slowly replacing steel owing to their lightweight and corrosion resistance properties. Non-ferrous metals are also economical and can be easily recycled for different applications.