Metal & Alloys
An alloy is a mixture of chemical elements of which at least one is a metal. Alloys are technically solid solutions consisting of a metal and at least one other element. In the microstructure of an alloy, the component elements may or may not be homogenously distributed, and the crystal structure may vary throughout the material, or may be consistent, depending on the thermal history of the material. In contrast, in intermetallic compounds, the different elements have designated spots within the microstructure of the material, and the material exhibits a well-defined stoichiometry. Intermetallic compounds are frequently grouped with and referred to as alloys. Unlike chemical compounds with metallic bases, an alloy will retain all the properties of a metal in the resulting material, such as electrical conductivity, ductility, opacity, and luster, but may have properties that differ from those of the pure metals, such as increased strength or hardness. Both alloys and intermetallics can exhibit a wide range of properties depending on material composition and processing. In some cases, an alloy may reduce the overall cost of the material while preserving important properties. In other cases, the mixture imparts synergistic properties to the constituent metal elements such as corrosion resistance or mechanical strength.