What is Metallurgy?

What is Metallurgy?

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What is metallurgy?

Metallurgy is the study of the science of metals . It involves understanding the relationship between the properties of metals and their composition, their microstructure, and manufacturing processes used to shape and form metals. This understanding enables us to develop alloys, develop manufacturing capable of producing metals and fabricating components, and design and make a huge variety of engineered devices and structures.

What is metallurgy?

Composition and microstructure

Composition refers to the elements that are present in the metals. For example, in steel alloys, the composition might consist of iron, carbon, and manganese. A brass alloy consists of copper, zinc, and in some cases lead.

Microstructure refers to microscopic structures such as arrangement of atoms, grains, and phases. We must use microscopes to see these structures.

Understanding the effects of metal composition and microstructure on metal properties is a critical part of alloy and process selection when designing components to use in devices and structures.

Manufacturing processes

There are a wide variety of manufacturing processes that have been developed to produce metals, fabricate components, and joint components. This includes casting, hot rolling, cold rolling, forging, extrusion, welding, and many others. The processes have a direct effect on metal microstructure, which has a direct effect on metal properties. Understanding the effects of manufacturing and assembly processes on metal microstructure is critical for developing processes capable of consistently producing metal, components, and joints that meet the requirements of the devices and structures in which they are used.

Free access to 5 Key Metallurgy Concepts webinar video.

Learn the five key metallurgy concepts that are critical to understanding and applying metallurgy to improve your manufacturing processes and products. These concepts apply to all metals.

Application of metallurgy

Understanding the relationship between properties, composition, microstructure, manufacturing has enabled us (humans) engineer and produce countless devices and structures that have (mostly) improved the quality of our lives.

First, we have a tremendous number of different alloys – steel, aluminum, copper, titanium, … All the different alloys arose out of our understanding of the effects of different alloying elements and microstructure on metal properties. There are a huge variety of alloys that are available for meeting different requirements for different applications.

Second, our understanding of the metallurgy of these alloys made it possible to develop manufacturing processes capable of producing metals in different forms in extremely high volumes. And the metals consistently meet specifications (>99% of the time, assuming a reputable producer).

Finally, the understanding of metallurgy enables us to fabricate components used in devices and structures. These components have a wide variety of requirements. By understanding the metallurgy, we can select the appropriate alloy and select the appropriate manufacturing processes to fabricate and join components.

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Civilization technology advances

The technological advancement of civilization is based totally on our ability to use materials to create tools and devices and build structures. Our understanding of metallurgy, and just materials in general, has enabled world technical advancement as we moved from the stone age to the bronze age to the iron age. And with each progression, we were able to create many more tools with better capabilities than before and design and build more complicated devices and structures.

Now we're in the Silicon Age, where the advancement in the knowledge of the science of semiconductor materials and related materials have enabled an explosion in electronics used for engineering and entertainment.

Metallurgy resources for non-metallurgists

So, it's important for non-metallurgist engineers to have at least an understanding of metallurgy fundamentals if they want to design better products and, when they arise, solve metal problems faster. It’s also valuable to have access to a metallurgist expert to get help with materials selection, selecting metal and component suppliers, and solving product failures and quality problems that involve metal components

We offer a variety of options to help non-metallurgist engineers learn metallurgy, including online courses, webinars, videos, and articles. All the training is geared to design, manufacturing, and quality engineers.

We also offer metallurgical engineering consulting services to help people with materials selection, supplier evaluation, failure analysis and root cause analysis, and the occasional “quick question”.

Industrial Metallurgists, LLC

Providing metals engineering expertise for failure analysis and forensic investigations of metal components and products.
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