If you’re like most people, you probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about metals and their composition. At the same time, however, we benefit from the strength of metal every day, from the inner workings of our cars to the beams that support the buildings in which we work. Without the perfect composition of each and every piece of metal, these items would not work properly. The fact that they function on a daily basis is due in large part to master alloys.
A great way to think about master alloys is as seasonings for the metal industry. Just like a chef will add in special seasonings and spices to fine tune a dish, metal industry workers use master alloys to adjust the properties of a particular product. These alloys are used worldwide and found in plants where metal is melted and then alloyed with various elements before being cast into shapes. These can aluminum, iron, steel, or precious metals like gold.
The Details of Master Alloys
These alloys, also known as foundry alloys, are base metals like copper, aluminum, or nickel that are combined with a relatively high percentage of one or more other elements. They are semi-finished products, manufactured for use as raw materials by the metal industry. They can be produced in many different shapes, including ingot, rod in coils, and waffle plates. A great example is AlTi10, a binary alloy consisting of 10% titanium within the aluminum.
Why Are They Used?
There are quite a few reasons for adding a master alloy to a melt. One of the main reasons is composition adjustment, which simply means changing the composition of a liquid metal the achieve the desired chemical specification. Another major application is structure control, which involves influencing the microstructure of the metal during the solidification and casting processes to change properties like ductility, electrical conductivity, mechanical strength, surface appearance, and castability. This is why these alloys are also often referred to as hardeners, grain refiners, and modifiers depending on their application. Reasons for using master materials can be economical, technical or both.