A large numbers of engineering materials exists in the universe such as metals and non metals (leather, rubber, asbestos, plastic, ceramics, organic polymers, composites and semi conductor). Leather is generally used for shoes, belt drives, packing, washers etc. It is highly flexible and can easily withstand against considerable wear under suitable conditions. Rubber is commonly employed as packing material, belt drive as an electric insulator. Asbestos is basically utilized for lagging round steam pipes and steam pipe and steam boilers because it is poor conductor of heat, so avoids loss of heat to the surroundings. Engineering materials may also be categorized into metals and alloys, ceramic materials, organic polymers, composites and semiconductors. The metal and alloys have tremendous applications for manufacturing the products required by the customers.
Metals and Alloys
Metals are polycrystalline bodies consisting of a great number of fine crystals. Pure metals possess low strength and do not have the required properties. So, alloys are produced by melting or sintering two or more metals or metals and a non-metal, together. Alloys may consist of two more components. Metals and alloys are further classified into two major kind namely ferrous metals and non-ferrous metals.
- Ferrous metals are those which have the iron as their main constituent, such as pig iron, cast iron, wrought iron and steels.
- Non-ferrous metals are those which have a metal other than iron as their main constituent, such as copper, aluminium, brass, bronze, tin, silver zinc, invar etc.
Ferrous metals are iron base metals which include all variety of pig iron, cast iron wrought iron and steels. The ferrous metals are those which have iron as their main constituents. The ferrous metals commonly used in engineering practice are cast iron, wrought iron, steel and alloy steels. The basic principal raw material for all ferrous metals is pig iron which is obtained by smelting iron ore, coke and limestone, in the blast furnace.
Main Types of Iron
- Pig iron
- Cast iron
(A) White cast iron
(B) Gray cast iron
(C) Malleable cast iron
(D) Ductile cast iron
(E) Meehanite cast iron
(F) Alloy cast iron
- Wrought iron
(A) Plain carbon steels and alloy stell
- Dead Carbon steels
- Low Carbon steels
- Medium Carbon steel
- High speed steel
- Stainless steel
Pig iron was originated in the early days by reduction or iron ores in blast furnace and when the total output of the blast furnace was sand cast into pigs which is a mass of iron roughly resembling a reclining pig. It is roughly of 20″ × 9″ × 4″ in size. It is produced in a blast furnace and is the first product in the process of converting iron ore into useful ferrous metal.
The iron ore on initial refining and heating in blast furnace becomes pig iron when the impurities are burnt out in a blast furnace. Pig iron acts as the raw material for production of all kinds of cast iron and steel products. It is obtained by smelting (chemical reduction of iron ore in the blast furnace. It is of great importance in the foundry and in steel making processes. It is partly refined in a cupola furnace that produces various grades of cast iron. By puddling processes, wrought iron is produced from pig iron. Steel is produced from pig iron by various steel making processes such as bessemer, open-hearth, oxygen, electric and spray steel making.
Cast iron is basically an alloy of iron and carbon and is obtained by re-melting pig iron with coke, limestone and steel scrap in a furnace known as cupola. The carbon content in cast iron varies from 1.7% to 6.67%. It also contains small amounts of silicon, manganese, phosphorus and sulphur in form of impurities elements.
Wrought iron is the assumed approximately as purest iron which possesses at least 99.5% iron. It contains a large number of minute threads of slag lying parallel to each other, thereby giving the metal a fibrous appearance when broken. It is said as a mechanical mixture of very pure iron and a silicate slag. It can also be said as a ferrous material, aggregated from a solidifying mass of pasty particles of highly refined metallic iron with which a minutely and uniformly distributed quantity of slag is incorporated without subsequent fusion. This iron is produced from pig iron by re-melting it in the puddling furnace or air furnace or reverberatory furnace. The molten metal free from impurities is removed from the furnace as a pasty mass of iron and slag. The balls of this pasty mass, each about 45 to 65 kg in weight, are formed. These balls are then mechanically worked to squeeze out the slag and to form it into some commercial shape. This iron contains practically no carbon and therefore can not be hardened.