Military Industry Metals

The military uses an extensive range of metals for everything from vehicles to electronics and ballistics. Each branch has specializations that require different equipment designs and materials. Meeting these needs often requires that metals and alloys be tailored to the needs of particular military applications.

Continental Steel has extensive experience providing a variety of quality materials for the manufacture of military hardware and equipment. Some of the most common metals used in military applications include:

  • Aluminum
  • Titanium
  • Stainless steel
  • Carbon steel
  • Nickel alloys

Each application material is specifically chosen based on its particular strengths and weaknesses and can be modified and finished to suit specific operational requirements. Though there is significant overlap, each branch of the military has specialized material preferences that help to ensure optimal equipment operation in particular environments and settings.

Army Defense Metals

As the primary land-based arm of the military, the U.S. Army uses various metals and alloys to create exceptionally durable defense equipment and hardware. Magnesium and titanium alloys are extremely sought after for structural and protective components.

  • Magnesium, known as a “defense metal,” exhibits an extremely high strength-to-weight ratio, and provides excellent lightweight structural support for military aircraft, High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs or Humvees), trucks, ships, and missiles.
  • Titanium alloy exhibits exceptional strength, is lightweight, and has high impact and fracture resistance. It is often used for structural components and protective exterior panels on armored vehicles, aircraft engines, pressure tanks, and missiles.

Marine Corps Specialty Metals

Aluminum is often the metal of choice for military Marine applications due to its ability to withstand constant exposure to both freshwater and saltwater environments. With a high strength-to-weight ratio and extreme corrosion resistance, aluminum is the perfect low-cost material for vehicles and equipment where weight is an important consideration. The lightweight strength of aluminum increases fuel efficiency and reduces overall equipment weight while maintaining a high level of strength and durability.

Aluminum’s corrosion resistance makes it better suited to harsh marine and outdoor environments than more traditional iron-based alloys that rust or deteriorate when subject to extended exposure. Since military vehicles and equipment must be able to operate reliably in extreme conditions without fail, aluminum alloys are often used for components in weapons, ships, land vehicles, and body armor.

Marine-Grade Aluminum

Although structural steel is often used in shipbuilding due to its strength, formability, and cost-effectiveness, but manufacturers are beginning to turn to aluminum alloys for lightweight strength and corrosion resistance. Engineers have developed a number of marine-grade aluminum alloys for particular use in aquatic and marine environments. With its high level of corrosion resistance, aluminum can be relied upon to withstand constant exposure to water and moisture, for longer-lasting and more durable equipment.

Navy Metals and Applications

Due to the primarily marine nature of Navy applications, it is no surprise that aluminum alloys are also often used in Navy equipment. From boat and ship hulls to support platforms and girders, the strength, flexibility, lightness, and corrosion resistance of aluminum alloys make them uniquely suited for use in naval applications.

As such, aluminum alloys have begun to replace steel on the panels of cargo ships, patrol boats, and other Navy vessels. The enhanced durability, strength, and corrosion resistance of marine-grade aluminum extend the service life of Navy vessels while making them lighter, more maneuverable, and more energy-efficient than steel-clad vessels.

Air Force Lightweight Specialty Metals

Equipment used for Air Force aircraft and rockets must be light and able to withstand myriad environmental stressors, including extreme temperature and pressure fluctuations, high levels of vibration, impacts, and corrosive substances. Nickel and high-temperature alloys such as Monel, Inconel, Incoloy, Hastelloy, and many others, have become some of the most commonly used metals in the Air Force due to their extremely high tensile strength and ability to withstand harsh environmental conditions.

When cold formed, these alloys multiply their tensile strength to withstand pressures as great as 125,000 psi. They are highly resistant to corrosion and high temperatures, which makes them perfect for engine, exhaust, and fuel system components. Their lightweight strength is ideal for use in rocket and aircraft frames, exterior panels, and fastening hardware for critical equipment operations.

Space Force Rare Metals

The latest addition to the military uses many of the same materials as the Air Force. Titanium, aluminum, and high temperature nickel alloys like Hastelloy, all offer lightweight strength necessary for aerospace applications. In addition to a high strength-to-weight ratio, materials used for Space Force equipment must be extremely precise and able to withstand the extreme conditions common in aerospace applications.

For this reason, rhenium has become a popular metal for aerospace equipment. Rhenium is an extremely rare temperature-resistant metal used to manufacture precision instruments, engine components, and fuel systems for aerospace and aviation equipment. A coating of rhenium is often used on the exterior plates of rockets, missiles, and spacecraft to enhance material durability by reducing arc discharge, mitigating thermal effects, and preventing surface wear.

Coast Guard Metal Applications

Similar to equipment used by the Navy and Marines, the Coast Guard requires metals that are strong, lightweight, and corrosion resistant. In addition to marine-grade aluminum, the Coast Guard will often use copper in their ships and aircraft for its high resistance to corrosion. Copper alloys are extremely flexible and impact-resistant. When combined with lead and nickel, copper is also ideal for use in body armor and other high-impact applications.

Marine-grade aluminum is one of the most commonly used metal materials in Coast Guard, Naval, and Marine equipment. From boat hulls to engine components, the lightweight versatility and extreme corrosion resistance of marine-grade aluminum alloy make it a particularly durable and cost-effective option for a wide range of marine and aquatic applications.

Reliable Specialty Metals and Alloys From Continental Steel

At Continental Steel, we pride ourselves on supplying our customers with the highest quality specialty metals available. We specialize in the distribution of hard-to-find specialty alloys, including titanium alloys, marine-grade aluminum, rhenium, Inconel, and a wide range of other rare materials.

For more than two decades, we have been the premier supplier and distributor of superior quality metals and alloys to specialty industries worldwide. We are dedicated to providing exceptional products at competitive prices with a quick turnaround. In fact, to ensure that you have the materials you need, when you need them, we maintain a comprehensive inventory of specialty metal stock in a variety of shapes and sizes.

As an ISO 9001:2015-certified supplier, we are committed to quality that meets and exceeds industry standards. We understand that materials in all branches of the military must meet stringent standards for strength and durability. With lives on the line, operators of military equipment must be able to rely on their equipment for flawless, fail-safe operation. Our highly knowledgeable engineers and specialists have the experience necessary to help you find the perfect material to suit the particular needs of your military application. Whether you need temperature-resistant materials for engine components or corrosion-resistant metals for your ship’s hull, can provide it.

To learn more about ideal materials for military applications, contact the experts at Continental Steel & Tube Company.

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