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Civil Engineering Engineering Materials Metals used in Engineering

Metals used in Engineering


All metals used for engineering works are classified into

  • Ferrous metals : Wherein iron is the main constituent (Cast iron, wrought iron and different forms of steels)
  • Non-Ferrous metals: Wherein iron is not the main constituent (Copper, Aluminum, Zinc and lead etc)


Ferrous metals ► not directly obtained from iron ores


From iron ore ► impure form of metal ► Pig iron

It is the pig iron which further yields “Ferrous metals”

Pig iron is not suitable for any mechanical use unless it is converted into cast iron, wrought iron or steel


Pig iron ► re melted with limestone and coke and poured into moulds of desired shapes and sizes to get purer product known as cast iron

Carbon content in cast iron varies from 2 to 5%

During re melting of pig iron ► scrap iron may also be added for economy

Properties of Cast Iron

  1. It is brittle, non ductile, non malleable and cracks when subjected to shocks
  2. It cannot be magnetized
  3. It does not rust
  4. It is strong in compression but weak in tension and shear
  5. Its melting point is 12000C
  6. Its specific gravity is 7.5


Weak in tension therefore cannot be used in construction

Can be used for parts of pumps, motors, engines etc

Because of corrosion resistance ►can be used for pipes to some extent


When pig iron is melted in such a way as to remove all of the carbon and other impurities, the result is wrought iron

Good quality wrought iron contains 99.5 % iron, less than 0.1 % of Silicon, 0.01 % of Sulfur, 0.07 % of phosphorus and 0.03 % of manganese

Properties of Wrought Iron

  1. Wrought iron is very malleable and ductile
  2. Its tensile strength is 20-26 tons /in2
  3. It is strong in compression but not so strong as steel
  4. It can be easily worked, welded and is tough
  5. Its melting point is 28000F
  6. Wrought iron became pasty and very plastic at red heat and could be easily forged at about 16500F


Since mild steel has replaced the wrought iron, therefore it is no longer produced in large extent. Still in use for roof sheets, wires and metal ornaments etc


Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. Pure iron’s strength remarkably increases when alloyed with carbon. The tensile strength increases with increasing carbon content but the ductility reduces. Steel having its properties because of the presence of carbon alone is called “Plain carbon steel”

PLAIN CARBON STEEL can further be classified as

  1. Low carbon steel or mild steel:

The carbon content does not increases 0.25%

Soft and ductile ► mostly used for construction purpose

Uses ► Sheets, rods, wires, pipes, hammers, chains, shafts etc

  1. Medium-carbon steel :

The carbon content is 0.25 to 0.5 %

Stronger than the mild steel slightly less ductile

Uses ► Shafts, connecting rods and rails etc

  1. High- carbon steel :

Carbon content is above 0.5%

Harder and stronger than mild steel and medium carbon steel

Uses ► Keys, knifes, drills etc

Properties of Mild Steel

  1. Ductile and malleable
  2. It corrodes quickly
  3. It can be permanently magnetized
  4. It is tough and more elastic than cast iron and wrought iron and withstands shocks and impacts well
  5. It is equally strong in tension, compression and shear
  6. Its specific gravity is 7.8
  7. It is not much affected by Saline water

Properties of High-carbon Steel

  1. Its structure is granular
  2. It is more tough and elastic than mild steel
  3. It is easier to harden and then to weld
  4. It is more difficult to forge and then to weld
  5. It can be permanently magnetized
  6. Comparatively it is stronger in compression than in tension or in shear
  7. It withstands vibration and shocks better


Three basic raw materials are needed in large quantities for the production of steel

  1. Iron Ore
  2. Coal
  3. Lime stone

The first step in the steel manufacture begins at the blast furnace. To separate iron from iron ore► coke (substance when gas is taken out of coal), limestone and dolomite are charged into the blast furnace

Temperature raised to 1600oF. This high temp causes the coke to burn and melt the iron. This red hot iron drained at an opening at the base of the furnace. Natural gas is often injected to reduce the amount of coke consumed. The dolomite and limestone combine with the non-ferrous elements of the ore to form a slag, which floats on the top of the molten iron and is removed separately. The product of the blast furnace is known as “Pig Iron” the basic ingredient of steel

It takes 2 tons of iron ore, 2/3 ton of coke, ½ ton of limestone, 4 tons of air to make 1 ton of Pig iron. Some of the pig iron goes to the foundries to make iron castings, but the vast majority is re melted and used in the production of steel in steel furnace. Several types of furnaces are used for the production of steel including


The open hearth furnace is called “open” because the charge is exposed to the sweep of flames over the surface. Molten pig iron, scrap iron and steel, limestone and high grade iron ore are charged into an open-hearth furnace. Limestone is put in first to act as a flux, then the scrap and iron ore are introduced. When they have began to melt, molten pig iron is added. The ingredients are heated using natural gas a fuel. Refining takes from 3½ to 7 hours at a temperature up to 30000F. During this period samples are taken and checked. Impurities are removed by limestone. Burnt lime may be added to hasten(fasten) the absorption of sulfur and phosphorus. When the molten steel is ready, it is drawn from the furnace in giant ladles, from which it is poured into “ingot moulds”. The moulds containing the ingots are then transported for cooling. The moulds are then removed, and the ingots placed in pits, where they are reheated to a uniform temperature high enough for rolling. Hot ingots goes into a blooming mill, where variety of products are made from these ingots, including sheets, rods, plates, pipes, wires, nails etc.

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