Mixing different elements can produce substances that are stronger, more durable, and more flexible than any of the original ingredients. One outcome of mixing elements is an alloy, such as stainless steel and brass, which is commonly used in a wide range of applications, from decorative fencing to structural framing. Composites are another form of mixed materials, with fundamentally different structures and characteristics.
The Difference Between Alloys & Composites
What Is an Alloy?
Alloys are created by mixing two or more elements — one of which is a form of metal — to create a material with enhanced characteristics. For instance, stainless steel is a mixture of iron, carbon, and often chromium, which combine to make a metal that is stronger, more flexible, and less resistant to corrosion than any of the individual elements.
To create an alloy, metal manufacturers typically heat the elements past their melting points, mix them, and allow them to cool. While this process fuses the substances, the atoms don’t form a chemical bond.
What Are Composites?
Unlike alloys, composites are the result of chemical reactions which fuse the elements at the molecular level. Unlike alloys, composites contain no metal, so they don’t conduct electricity or heat, making them ideal for building and electronics applications. Many plastic and fiberglass materials are considered composites, particularly if they’re reinforced with glass or other materials.
While some composites are created using heat, others require electricity to trigger the chemical reaction or the addition of a third element under specific conditions. The resulting substances are used in everything from home insulation to medical devices and aircraft parts.
With locations in Cincinnati and Louisville, KY and a highly diversified selection of products, American Metal Supply Co. offers the raw materials your business needs. Whether your project calls for stainless steel or fiberglass grating, their team will meet your demands and exceed your expectations. Visit their new website for more information on their stainless steel and other products and call (502) 634-4321 to speak to someone in Louisville. To reach their Cincinnati location, call (513) 396-6600.