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Understanding the Melting Points of Metal
Since they can withstand extremely high and low-temperature points, metal materials are commonly utilized for a wide range of industrial applications. Whether it’s combustion motors, furnaces, exhaust systems, or any other type of structure subjected to extreme temperatures, choosing a metal that can support the application’s temperature range is essential.
What is a Melting Point?
A metal’s melting point can be described as the moment the metal transitions from a solid phase into a liquid phase. When a metal achieves its exact melting point, its solid and liquid phases exist in equilibrium. Once the metal passes its melting point, it will be reduced to liquid until it is cooled, solidifying once again.
Whether you are a fabricator or welder, understanding the melting points of various metals is vitally essential to the overall success of your project. Metal melting points are classified as the point where the metal transitions from a solid into a complete liquid. Before a metal reaches its liquidus state, it softens and warps, transitioning between solid and liquid forms.Understanding a metal’s melting point is crucial when deciding which metal alloy is suitable for your project. Component failure is the most critical consideration in choosing the appropriate metal for your application. If a specific metal liquefies below the maximum temperature range of its application, the part will fail, resulting in costly repairs and safety concerns.
Besides complete liquefication, other types of metal failure can result when approaching a metal’s melting point. Metal failures such as creep-induced fractures may occur well before the melting temperature is reached. Before starting a project, research should be done on the effect of the various temperatures to which a metal will be subjected.
Metal & Metal Alloy Melting TemperaturesIt can be frustrating when metal is chosen for its beneficial properties, only to discover that it can’t withstand the application’s maximum temperature output. For this reason, it is vitally important to understand the melting points of the metals used within a project before it begins. It is important to remember that alloys containing more than one element have a melting point temperature range that is dependent on the overall alloy composition. The following list incorporates various common metals and their corresponding melting points.
|Carbon Steel||1425-1540°C (2597-2800°F)|
|Stainless Steel||1375 – 1530°C (2500-2785°F)|
Which Metals Provide the Highest and Lowest Melting PointsEach metal melts at its unique temperature, whether it’s copper melting points, steel melting points, brass melting points, or iron melting points. Some of the most common metals with the highest melting points include nickel and tungsten, which melt at very high temperatures. Nickel melts around 1,452°C (2,646°F), while tungsten melts around 3,399°C (6,150°F). The metals with the lowest melting points include lead 327°C (621°F) and zinc 420°C (787°F).
Manufacturing Processes and Metal Melting PointsWhen performing a manufacturing process that requires metal to be liquified, it is vital to know the temperature at which the melting will begin so that the appropriate materials for the equipment being used can be selected. Since metals are most formable when liquid, it is imperative to understand the melting point of your metal or alloy metal. Manufacturing processes that require metal to be in liquid form include:
- Fusion Welding
Melting vs. SmeltingSmelting is the process of removing a metal element from mined ores. Most metals are found as veins in rocks or as parts of other factors. Smelting is the first step of extraction. Melting is what is done with metal alloys or pure metals. Scrap is melted, and ore is smelted. Pig iron is the rough iron ingot created from iron ore smelting.
What is a Blast Furnace?Blast furnaces are tall furnaces injected with pressurized gases generally used for smelting. Blast furnaces mainly produce ingots that are shipped to manufacturing foundries. The manufacturing foundries take alloys and additives and melt them to make specific grades of cast metal in other types of melting furnaces.
Metal Melting Points… Welding vs. BrazingSeveral factors should be considered before choosing which process you use, whether you are welding or brazing. The metal alloy’s melting temperature and other considerations should be considered.
WeldingWelding is the process of joining two metal sections by heating both parts to their melting point, creating a liquid melt pool in which their molecules mix thoroughly. A third metal filler is often added to the melt pool. When the molten metal cools and solidifies, the two parts are fused with an unbreakable bond.
Knowing which metals can be welded, and choosing the best metals for welding, may depend partly on their melting points – if they differ by a significant amount, one of the sections will melt faster than the other. This could cause a blowout or other mechanical weaknesses.
BrazingWhen joining metals with very different melting points, such as copper and steel, brazing might be a better choice than welding. In brazing, an oxy-acetylene torch is used to heat a filler metal, typically a brass alloy, with a lower melting point than the two metal parts. As the filler melts, it is drawn into the joint and solidifies when cooled. The two joined parts never reach their melting point, which means that the joint is not permanent.
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