Thursday, March 31, 2022

How Do You Distinguish Between Different Metal Alloys For Welding?

Rolls of metal sheeting in a warehouse

It is important to know what type of metal you are working with before welding. Some metals are weldable, others are not - but knowing the type will help you determine the proper technique and methods needed for successful welding. 


The more you work with metals and the greater experience you have, you may easily come to recognize what is in front of you. Until then, we’ve got some tests to help you distinguish between different metal alloys for welding. 


Common Ways to Test Metal Alloys


There are 7 general tests that can help you distinguish between metal alloys, including: 


  • Visible surface appearance

  • Spark test

  • Chip test

  • Magnetic test

  • Torch test 

  • Chemical test

  • Hardness test


Let’s take a closer look at each. 


Visible surface appearance. Familiarizing yourself with the visible appearance of metal alloys as well as their common applications, you can get an idea for the type of alloy you are working with - or at least narrow it down. 


Spark Test. You can determine the type of metal you are getting ready to weld by determining whether or not there is a spark when holding it against a grinding wheel. If there is, you may be dealing with stainless steel, cast iron, wrought iron, nickel, etc. Otherwise, you won’t find sparks with metals such as bronzes, coppers, brasses, lead, aluminum alloys, and zinc alloys.  


Chip Test. Using a chisel to chip a small piece off of the metal can give you some insight. The size of the chip, whether its edges are smooth or sharp, the grain, and so on can all be important key aspects of identification. For example, copper chips are smooth with sawtooth-like edges. Brass and bronze have the same characteristics. The differing factor is that copper chips in a continuous strip while the latter has smaller, more brittle chips. 


Magnetic Test. Ferrous metals are magnetic, nonferrous metals are not. All you need is a small magnet to perform this test. You will find that steel, nickel, and iron alloys are strongly magnetic. Copper alloys, aluminum alloys, and zinc alloys are not. 


Torch Test. By firing up a torch and heating the metals, welders are able to better distinguish between them. This is done by visibly inspecting the melted metal as well as paying attention to how fast it melted. Each metal will react a little differently to the heat. For instance, brass and bronze melt rapidly and turn red before they do. Brass may give off white flumes. Copper requires a larger flame to melt and its color becomes very pronounced just before it melts. It does so slowly and may tend to bubble if close to the flame. 


Chemical Test. Certain chemicals can be used to determine the metal you are using. Of course, it is important to have an understanding of what you are doing before you attempt these tests. An example is putting a few drops of 45% phosphoric acid onto stainless steel - if it bubbles, then it is stainless steel. There are a few different tests for various metals that you can use. 


Hardness Test. This test can be done in different ways, but it involves pressing a specific object known as the indenter into the surface of the metal. Its hardness can be determined based on the depth of the penetration or the size of the impression. By understanding the hardness of common metals, you can narrow down which one you may be confronting. 


Learn More About Metal Alloys at AtlasBronze


There are quite a few different metals and metal alloys so it can be tough to always know exactly which is which. But, if you are a welder, it is important to know the properties of each of the metals you are using at all times. 


If you are looking for the right metal for your application - or you aren’t sure which one is best - the experienced professionals at AtlasBronze can help. Contact us at (800) 478-0887 or reach out to us online. 


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Is It Possible To Weld Two Different Metals Together?

A welding torch making sparks

Many different industries and applications join dissimilar materials together for a variety of reasons. Combining dissimilar metals can allow the best properties of each metal to be used. 

At Atlas Bronze, we know that before any welding operation can begin, the welder must be able to identify and understand the characteristics of each material. For these reasons, welding different metals together, requires expert skill and knowledge.


Equipped with that knowledge, whether for brass welding or copper welding, an experienced welder can join even materials that are difficult to weld, skillfully and successfully.


Dissimilar Metal Welding 


Dissimilar metal welding is the welding process that joins different metal alloys. 


To successfully weld these disparate types of material, the welder must understand:


  • Dilution and Alloying -  metals require a solid solution in which the mixture will produce stable metallurgical phases, whether that takes one or more phases. The amount of dilution necessary determines the phase.


  • Level of Weldability - joining dissimilar metals can lead to a high risk of hot or solidification cracking. Weldability measures how metals can be joined without cracking occurring.


  • Electrochemical characteristics -  Corrosion can develop at the part of the joint where the metals transition from one to the other, in what is called the intermetallic zone; or on the overlay surface. The risk of corrosion is highest if metals have significantly different electrochemical properties caused by dilution.


  • Melting point - metals may melt at different temperatures. A pre-heating process will rapidly bring all metals to their melting point, so melting is not required.


  • Thermal expansion coefficient - this expansion refers to the ways in which metals expand, changing size and shape, when heated. Should two metals being welded change shape at different rates or degrees, the weld can strain as it sets, causing thermal cracking.


  • Heat affected zone - if there are heat affected zones immediately adjoining the weld, that weld can display majorly different physical properties from the original base metal. Higher hardness occurs in this way with high carbon or cast iron, leading to reduced strength and brittle fracture.


How Dissimilar Metals are Joined


Traditionally, dissimilar metals are joined through fusion ARC welding to prevent degradation of strength, toughness, and corrosion.


Laser weld overlay can also be used to join these metals. Laser classing of dissimilar materials offers benefits such as: 


  • Less sensitive laser weld overlay to different melt temperatures.

  • Very low dilution

  • Thinner clads

  • Reduced sensitivity to thermal expansion 

  • Control of detrimental metallurgical phases

  • Reduction or elimination of solidification cracking 

  • Higher corrosion resistance in a single thin layer

  • Elimination of multiple layer requirements 

  • Lesser pre-machining

  • Smaller heat affected zone for less distortion

  • High hardenability of materials without preheat

  • Reduction or elimination of preheat requirements 

  • Ability of laser overlay of ductile cast iron without significant preheat

  • Post weld heat treatment eliminated or reduced

  • High quench rates for finer grain structure and higher corrosion potentials


In short, laser is the ultimate heat source tool for the welding/cladding of dissimilar materials.


Are There Any Materials That Can’t Be Welded?


The answer to this question depends on the type of welding method. Fusion welding can’t be used for the welding of:


  • Aluminum and carbon steel

  • Aluminum and copper

  • Aluminum and stainless steel

  • Titanium and steel


However, non-fusion welding, such as diffusion bonding, explosion welding, ultrasonic, and friction welding are very effective for joining these metal combinations as well as other insoluble metals.


Ready to Learn More about Welding Different Types of Metals?


At Atlas Bronze, our skilled experts are here to help. Reach out to us today!


Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Complete Guide to Metal Welding and Fabrication: When You Need It & Why?

Are you wondering when you might need metal welding and fabrication, and why? Have you ever considered how you might use these techniques to craft an object, or refurbish a part of your home or car? Let’s start with the basics. 

Welding and fabrication are two different things, although many people use both words interchangeably. 


Fabrication refers to making something out of metal, while welding is simply joining two pieces of metal together at their melting points. Welding is really one step in the process of fabrication which involves laying out a design, then welding the materials and finishing the design. In short, welding is one element in a bigger process. But of course, both go hand in hand. Welders usually know how to fabricate an object, and those who fabricate know how to weld.


So let’s take a look at welding and fabrication, and what you need to do to implement these skills.


Using the Right Tools


In order to weld and fabricate, you need the right tools. These include welding items such as:


  • Abrasives

  • Benders

  • Electrode holders

  • Soapstone

  • Vice/vice grips

  • Tungsten inert gas - for clean welding

  • Chipping hammers

  • Hand File

  • Adjustable wrench


Additionally, important fabrication tools include:


  • Cleco fasteners

  • Angle grinder discs


Cleaning supplies are also important to remove germs, oils, and the build-up of grease on metal surfaces. To handle cleaning appropriately, you’ll need one of these three items:


  • Acetone

  • Alkaline solution (mild)

  • Degreaser (one that does not contain butoxyethanol)


Be sure to protect yourself and your workstation with proper cleaning and safety tools, too. Safety is essential.


For workstation cleaning:


  • Coverings/protection films

  • Mops and sweepers


For personal safety:


  • Flame-resistant pants

  • Leather apron

  • Boots - either non-slip or steel toe

  • Fume extraction tools

  • Working gloves

  • Safety goggles

  • Hearing protection

  • Respirator or dust mask

  • Auto-darkening helmet (with visor) 


Safety must come first, so be sure you can afford to purchase and know how to use all of this equipment before getting started.  


Different Types of Welding


There are a variety of different kinds of welding techniques and types that you’ll discover. Sheet metal fabrication and welding takes a series of extensive steps to fully complete. Each requires a different technique or type of welding. For example, you will likely need to perform these techniques:


  • Die cutting

  • Roll Forming

  • Finishing

  • Spinning

  • Shrinking

  • Stamping

  • Stretching


Welding types include:


  • Oxy acetylene

  • TIG

  • Gas metal arc. 

  • MIG (Metal Inert Gas) 

  • Conventional stick welding 


One of the easiest types of welding is metal inert gas, which can be used to shape metal art. In the mainstream welding industry, TIG is frequently used, due to its ability to weld relatively devoid of splatter.


Stick welding creates very strong welds, for that reason this is the technique most often chosen for heavy repairs and for applications such as construction work. 


All in all, no matter when you need to use the processes of welding or fabrication, or the reason why, you need to utilize proper safety equipment, perform correct handling practices, and be using the right tools. With all of these elements in place, welding and fabricating are skills you should be able to master in a short amount of time, and there are many opportunities in welding and fabrication in the workforce, as well as at home or in your own garage or workshop.


Learn More About Metal Welding and Fabrication

To find out more about metal welding and fabrication, or consult with us about these processes, contact us at Atlas Bronze. Call 1-800-478-0887 to speak to one of our sales representatives about our wide selection. Our team of experts will guide you through the process.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

What Metals Conduct Electricity & Why Do You Need It?

metal conductivity

Metals are more conductive to electricity than other material types. But some are more conductive than others. Why do you need metals, and one metal in particular? 

Let’s start with why metals overall are more conductive: the atoms of which metal is composed contain valence electrons. This type of negatively charged particle can move freely through atom lattices, which results in conducting electric current.


But the more of these valence electrons a type of metal has, the conductivity of that metal is weaker. That may sound counter-intuitive, but the reason is simple. With fewer electrons that can create resistance, conductivity is far less strong. So, metals with only one valence electron are actually the most conductive types of metals

Metals that Best Conduct Electricity

While all metals have electrical conductivity, those that are the least resistive to electricity are the most conductive. These include:


  • Silver

  • Copper

  • Gold

  • Aluminum


Silver is considered the most conductive metal. It was once used for the manufacture of electrical cables and wire. But, due to its low heat resistance, which can lead to the possibility of fire, it is no longer used for that purpose.


Copper is the second most electrically conductive material. It has replaced the use of silver as far as cables, electrical wires, and other parts of the electric grid. It’s just as soft and malleable as silver, and it offers a very high electrical conductivity and thermal conductivity.


But, unlike silver, it's highly reactive, meaning that it can be combined quite easily with other metal types. The result: there are more than 100 different kinds of copper-based alloys. Among the most popular are bronze and brass. 


Brass is stronger and firmer than copper alone but it can crack under stress. Copper can more easily bend without any breakage. Brass is also less conductive than copper, which means it is not suitable for electrical applications. In other uses, such as plumbing, brass is usually more resistant to corrosion than copper.


While copper is the top choice for electrical conductivity uses today, there are a few others that conduct electricity well.


Gold is the most expensive metal, and is not commonly used as an industrial electrical or construction material. Non-reactive, like silver, it’s somewhat difficult to alloy as well.


Aluminum is, on the other hand, an abundant and widely used metal. Along with its alloys, aluminum is used extensively in major industries from aerospace to construction and transportation. 

Why Do We Need Metal?

There are so many reasons why metal is crucial to modern life, and its ability to conduct electricity is key. Without conductive metal, our communications systems, transportation and vehicles, and our general infrastructure would be nonexistent.


Copper, specifically, is vital for all of these systems and applications. 

Atlas Bronze Can Help with Your Metal Needs

Regardless of your needs, our skilled professionals at Atlas Bronze are here to assist you. 

If you’re considering the right metal for your applications, our sales team is ready to help. Contact us - our expert team is ready today to help you get started at 1-800-478-0887.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Metal Shapes Guide & When to Use Them (Bar, Sheet, Tube, or Pipe)

metal shapes guide


There are many different types of metals and alloys, such as steel, copper, bronze, titanium, brass, and aluminum. Each is often used in its own special way, since certain metals are more viable in certain settings than they are in others. And as you are beginning your project, you will need to determine the right metal for the job. This is a very important step as you want to make sure you get the job done right. 


Once your chosen metal is selected, you need to determine its shape. After all, just as there are many applications for metals, there are also many different metal shapes. Let’s take a look at four of the most common - and when you should use them. 

Metal Bars 

Metal bars are easily handled as they are cast in a block of a certain desired shape. They can come in different sizes and meet many different requirements. A few of the most common are: 


  • Flat bars

  • Round bars

  • Square bars

  • Rectangle bars

  • Hex bars

  • Twisted bars


Hollow bars are also another option. As their name suggests, they are bars that are hollowed out in the middle.


Metal bars are most often used in construction, architecture, and heavy industrial applications as they provide a strong and steady reinforcement where needed. 

Metal Sheets

Sheet metal is one of the basic shapes of metal that you can buy. It is metal that is formed into thin, flat pieces of all different sizes. It can easily be manipulated, cut, bent, and welded to meet all sorts of needs - and it is commonly found in the manufacturing of cars and aircraft, agriculture, mining, medical, roofing and construction, and many more areas. 

Metal Tubes

Metal tubes are, well, tubes of metal - just as their name suggests. Unlike rubber or plastic tubing, metal tubes can handle fluid that is highly pressurized, of extreme temperatures, or just requires something strong. Tubes can also handle structural applications. 


Many different types of metal can be transformed into the shape of tubing, with the most common being aluminum, brass, bronze, copper, steel, titanium, and stainless steel. Each application for using the metal tubing will help you determine which type of metal is needed. After all, some do better in wet environments, some are stronger than others, and so forth. 


You will find metal tubing used in various different settings, such as electrical wiring, plumbing, medical devices, architectural design, and even industrial equipment. Metal tubing is often used in applications where stability is important. 

Metal Pipes

Metal pipes are very similar to metal tubes, as they are both designed the same way. Except rather than being used as part of a structure or in the making of certain architectural designs, they are used to transport things like gasses, oil, or water. That means metal pipes do not necessarily require the precise measurements as tubes, for example, but rather need to be able to meet capacity requirements. 

Metal in all Shapes from Atlas Bronze

Regardless of your metal needs, Atlas Bronze has got you covered. If you aren’t sure what you are looking for or what your best options are, our expert team can help. Call us today at 800-478-0887. Or, reach out to use online.