Comprehensive Guide to Industrial Metals
Continental Steel & Tube Company is a globally leading supplier of quality industrial metals, backed by nearly 40 years of experience and a highly knowledgeable technical staff. As an ISO 9001:2015 and AS 9120B:2016 registered company, we meet the needs of diverse markets by supplying the metal alloys needed for demanding industrial applications. Choosing the right metal is the only way to ensure the longevity and performance of your application.
What Are Industrial Metals?
The term “industrial metal” is used to describe any type of base metal that is used for industrial purposes. These materials are typically highly durable, malleable, and provide electrical or thermal conductivity. At Continental Steel, we meet the demand for high-quality metals and alloys with an extensive catalog of materials suitable for construction, infrastructure development, electronics, automotive manufacturing, and much more.
In this guide, we will further discuss what industrial metals are, their unique characteristics, and which applications they are used in.
Nickel & High-Temperature Alloys
Nickel and high-temperature alloys are known for their exceptional heat resistance, as well as numerous other specialized properties. Nickel-based alloys are created by combining nickel with other metals to improve their performance capabilities. The most popular alloying material for nickel is stainless steel, but titanium, copper, iron, chromium, and aluminum are also used.
These alloys perform reliably in temperatures as high as 1000 °C and are well suited to harsh industrial environments. Nickel-based alloys also deliver corrosion resistance and improved strength at a variety of temperature ranges. Due to these characteristics, nickel and high-temperature alloys are commonly used in applications such as:
- Power generation
- Oil and gas
- Heat exchangers
Stainless steel is a versatile and corrosion-resistant steel alloy that is used throughout many industrial sectors. Stainless steel must contain a minimum of 10.5% chromium as well as varying amounts of molybdenum, nickel, and niobium. These alloying metals ensure enhanced corrosion resistance and improved performance in challenging environments.
Stainless steel is available in an extensive range of grades, forms, finishes, and gauges, making it suitable for a large number of applications. In industrial applications, it is commonly used as hot or cold-rolled bars, sheets, coils, or strips, as well as piping and tubing. In addition, stainless steel is easily fabricated into an array of structural shapes.
Some of the most common industrial applications for stainless steel include:
- Architecture and construction
- Mining operations
- Food processing and kitchen equipment
- Energy and power generation
- Brewing and beverages
- Chemical processing
- Oil and gas
- Marine and offshore
Aluminum is a lightweight, corrosion-resistant metal that is highly versatile. On its own, aluminum demonstrates excellent strength but is often supplemented with alloys to further enhance its strength and durability. Aluminum absorbs energy during impacts and exhibits a strength-to-weight ratio that allows it to be fabricated into parts that are both strong and lightweight. It is easily fabricated using a variety of processes, including extrusion, rolling, forging, and casting.
Due to these characteristics, aluminum alloys are a popular choice for aerospace and automotive components. They are also used in applications such as:
- Marine Applications
- Industrial equipment
- Construction components
- HVAC and refrigeration
Titanium is an incredibly versatile metal that is used throughout virtually every industry. It is highly valued due to its unique characteristics, which include an exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion resistance, and biocompatibility. Titanium also displays the highest strength-to-density ratio of any metal.
Due to its strong yet lightweight nature, titanium is used to create military equipment like missiles, jet engines, and other components for the aerospace industry. When alloyed with another metal, such as aluminum, molybdenum, or iron, it becomes even more versatile. Some of the most common industrial applications for titanium include:
- Military and Defense
- Sports and recreation equipment
- Oil and gas equipment for deep-sea drilling
- Chemical processing
- Medical instruments and prosthetics
- Marine propeller shafts and desalination plant rigging
- Telecommunications devices
- Automotive engines and other high-performance components
Copper, Brass, & Bronze
These related alloys display unique and valuable characteristics. Copper is highly ductile and an excellent conductor of electricity. It is also durable, impermeable, and low maintenance. Brass, a combination of copper and zinc, is ideal for low-friction applications, while bronze, a copper and tin alloy, is tough and versatile. These materials are easily fabricated into diverse components, available in wire, strip, or tubing form.
Copper, brass, and bronze are used throughout numerous industrial applications, such as marine components, electrical connectors, and even musical instruments. Some alloy-specific uses for these materials include:
Copper: Telecommunications, HVAC systems, plumbing, electrical wiring, and electronics
Brass: Plumbing fittings, marine and nautical components, musical instruments, decorative hardware
Bronze: Aerospace components, bearings, bushings, marine hardware, architectural components, art sculptures
Carbon steel is a metal that features iron and a carbon content of up to 2.5%. This high carbon concentration delivers several beneficial characteristics that other types of steel do not have. For example, carbon steel displays greater strength than traditional steel and is less likely to break under pressure. It is also more durable and popular for industrial applications that demand an affordable yet high-strength option.
Due to its relatively low cost, it is a popular material for petrochemical plants and refinery piping and valves. Carbon steel is available in several grades and forms that include plates, tubes, beams, and rebar. They are often supplied as coated metals, such as galvannealed, galvanized, or Galvalume® carbon steel. Some of the most common industrial applications for carbon steel include:
- Manufacturing and fabrication
- Military and defense
- Oil and gas
Alloy steel is a highly versatile steel with a nickel and chrome-based superalloy that is used in the most rigorous applications. Due to the addition of its various alloying elements, it displays enhanced mechanical properties, such as corrosion resistance, creep resistance, and oxidation resistance. It also retains its strength at high temperatures and within extremely corrosive environments.
While alloy steel grades vary in composition and performance capabilities, they are all well-suited to applications that require high strength, wear resistance, and hardness. Some common industrial applications for alloy steel include:
- Aerospace components
- Construction and infrastructure
- Manufacturing machinery
- Tool and die making
- Military and defense components
Vast Industrial Metal Supply by Continental Steel
No matter what type of high-performance industrial metal your application requires, Continental Steel has the materials you need, in the grade, ASTM standard, and quantity you’re looking for. We carry an exhaustive inventory of industrial metals in various grades, shapes, and sizes and also offer fabrication services like cutting, bending, and forming for your convenience.
Our team has over three decades of experience meeting the needs of demanding industries, such as military, construction, marine, aerospace, and many others. We’re committed to ensuring your project is a success by delivering unsurpassed quality at competitive prices. To get started on your next project, request a quote today.