If you're not an expert in metallurgy or ferrous metals, you're not alone. Many Americans know very little about this critically important industry. It may not be the most thrilling subject, but ferrous metal is everywhere you look: anything carbon steel, stainless steel, or cast iron fits the bill. Ferrous wire, in particular, is vital for maintaining the flow of society. It's used for fences, in airports, on highways, in construction, and in the electric industry, to name a few.
Ferrous Metal vs. Non-Ferrous Metal
Simply put, ferrous metals are magnetic and consist primarily of iron. Non-ferrous metals aren't magnetic and don't contain any iron. The high levels of carbon in ferrous metals make them susceptible to rust when exposed to moisture. The only metals that can withstand oxidation are chromium-stainless alloys and wrought iron, which is so pure it resists rust. The magnetic properties of ferrous metals make them ideal for the wire and cable industry.
Wire and Cable
Ferrous wire is just the technical term for carbon steel wire, stainless steel wire, and alloy steel wire (think welding wire or even tension bridges). Wire is incredibly versatile; it can be easily bent or coated with other materials for enhanced durability.
Principles of Metallurgy
Metallurgy is defined as the study of metal's behavior, structure, and properties. The actual process of metallurgy refers to the methods used for extracting metals in their purest form. Essentially, it refers to creating alloys and the purification of metals. These principles include:
- Roasting (heating) in the presence of oxygen
- Pulverization into powder via grinding/crushing
- A hydrolytic process that utilizes water and the settling of denser ore particles
- Separation using magnetic wheels and a rotating belt
- Separation via oil, leaving the ore as surface froth
Metals composed primarily of iron are relatively inexpensive to produce, and they're incredibly versatile—they can be fabricated to fit an array of applications. Ferrous wire is also critical to maintaining everyday life's comforts: even steel nails are manufactured with wire made using metallurgy techniques!