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An alloy is a mixture of metals or a mixture of at least one metal and another element. Alloys are defined by a metallic bonding character.
Alloys are created to exploit or maximize various properties of one of the parent metal used (like in the case of steel, bronze or brass, strength), or create new properties, different from the parent metals (like NaK, which is liquid at standard conditions and pyrophoric). Steel can be alloyed with small amounts of chromium to make stainless steel, producing a strong but corrosion resistant material.
Common alloys and uses
- Brass - electric equipment, handles, bullet cartridges;
- Bronze - statues, toys, bearings, tools;
- Kanthal - heating elements;
- Nichrome - heating elements;
- Solder - electronic boards;
- Steel - tools, machine parts, construction material, cars;
- Stainless steel - kitchenware, tools, plumbing;
- Zamak - zippers, buttons, car parts, electronic cases;
Alloys can be obtained from various everyday items, though the exact composition of many alloys is generally not disclosed to the public, meaning you only know the name of the alloy. Alloys can also be purchased from metallurgical suppliers, though most may not sell to individuals.
You can also buy various alloys online, on eBay or Aliexpress. A visit to the local scrapyard may also reward you with some alloys, if know where to look.