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An alloy can be defined as a homogeneous mixture of two or more metals, or of metal(s) and non metal(s) (such as carbon, silicon, nitrogen and phosphorus) to give certain desirable qualities.

An alloy is made by melting its constituent elements, to ensure even mixture, and then cooling to solidify.

The constituent elements must be soluble in each other, and should not separate into different layers when cooled.

Below is a summary of some alloys:


Composition: Fe and C

Advantage: Harder, tougher, higher tensile strength, more malleable and ductile than iron.

Uses: For building cars, ships, bridges, machinery and houses.

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Stainless Steel

Composition: Fe, C, Cr and Ni

Advantage: Very hard, greater metallic luster and highly resistant to corrosion.

Uses: For making surgical instruments, scissors and cutlery.

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Composition: Cu and Zn

Advantage: Stronger, tougher, more malleable, more ductile and greater metallic luster than copper.


For making ornamental objects, e.g., oval bowls, engravings and castings; for making musical instruments, moving part of clock and watches, and for general metal works.



Composition: Cu and Sn

Advantage: Greater tensile strength, more resistant to air and chemical attack, and greater metallic luster than copper.

Uses: For making ornaments, castings and engraving, examples, plagues and sculptures; for making coins and for general metal works.

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Composition: Al, Cu, Mg, and Mn

Advantage: Extreme lightness, highly resistant to corrosion and of very high tensile strength than aluminium.

Uses: For making aircraft bodies and parts; for building ships, buses, rail coaches and piston heads.

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Composition: Pb, Sb, and Sn

Advantage: Harder and tougher, hence does not wear out easily as lead.

Uses: For printing works.

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Soft Solder

Composition: Pb and Sn

Advantage: Higher tensile strength than lead.

Uses: For plumbing and welding works.

Note: Sb - Antimony; Sn - Tin





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