Active Atom

Active Atom Materials - General Properties

General material types we work with.

Active Atom works with non-ferrous and ferrous metals, composites, fibers, synthetic resins and polymers.

  • Raw material shapes we work with.
  • Plate material
  • Square bar material
  • Rectangular bar material
  • Round bar material
  • Tubing material
  • Sheet material
  • Billet material
  • "C" Channel Extrusion
  • "U" Channel Extrusion

What makes one material the right material and what is the difference in materials all comes down to knowing what you expect the material to offer.

There is a really simple way to best achieve an understanding of materials. There are base materials near 100% pure in their properties and then there is the process during the making at the material foundry smelt called alloying or additives resulting in what we explain below.

Materials we work with at Active Atom.

We want to share what materials we utilize in the making of all of our products, we will list the materials in order of easiest to machine to toughest to machine.

We work with 4 base metals copper, aluminum, steel and titanium, however as the below elements are added to the base metals through a metal mill process (foundry) during extrusion, rolling, forging or casting of the materials many other versions of these 4 base metals take on new names and varieties from simi alloyed to super alloyed metals.

Alloying of the base metals with the below elements is how metals utilized in our daily lives take shape, these additives make for the need of the Material Properties, Machinability Scale and Hardness Rockwell Scale.

General Material Properties

  • Material hardness
    The result here is amount of abrasion, resistance to penetration and even permanent distortion.
  • Material strength
    This is all about reducing stress deformation even breakage.
  • Material density
    This is all about material weight to strength how heavy a product do you want to end up with.
  • Material elasticity
    All materials have a spring back or elastic limit point meaning when a load is applied to a product, and after the load is removed does the product return to its original shape and dimensions.
  • Material malleability
    Does a product need to be hammers, pressed, formed or rolled, if so this can be a factor.
  • Material ductility
    Similar to the above malleability topic, if the product needs to be flexible, curved maybe bent to a shape that moves slightly then this is a factor to consider.
  • Material fusibility
    This is for welding if a product is to be joined via heat then this should be considered.
  • Material brittleness
    Stronger is not always better if you make something really hard with a high Rockwell Hardness and apply a load to it, it is likely to break materials all materials need flexibility.
  • Material toughness
    This refers to a materials ability to withstand tearing or shearing even stretching without braking.

Material thermal expansion

An important consideration if your product will be exposed to high heat and high cold temperatures even in very short periods of time.

Material conductivity

This is about heat and electricity, welding generates a lot of heat and deformation of the welded materials is a factor for proper fusion, as well this also controls expansion and contraction of the product when working within other parts or components to work together is an additional factor.

Metal Alloying during Smelter

These are the alloys and abbreviations for alloying a base metal at the foundry.
Some are added others are occurrences during the process.

  • S Sulfur, O Oxygen, N Nitrogen, H Hydrogen, P Phosphorus, As Arsenic
  • Cu Copper, Al Aluminum, Fe Iron, Ti Titanium
  • C Carbon, Ni Nickel, Co Cobalt, Be Beryllium, Cr Chromium, V Vanadium, Calcium Ca
  • W Tungsten, Zr Zirconium, Mo Molybdenum, Nb Niobium, Boron B, Selenium Se
  • Zn Zinc, Sn Tin, Mg Magnesium, Mn Manganese, Te Tellurium, Pb Lead, Si Silicon
  • Hf Hafnium, Pd Palladium, Ru Ruthenium

Elements Understanding the Basics

There are 118 Elements in the Periodic Table.
17 groups 18 groups respectfully when including Noble Gases.

The Active Atom Team is only going to discuss 30 elements and while these mentioned elements offer far more uses each, we are focused on the metallurgical uses and properties in relation to metals materials and the smelter at the foundry during alloying process of metals we utilize at Active Atom.

Specifically we are focused on sharing the understanding of what each element adds to the materials from the alloying process.

There are 4 basic metals that begin the alloying process at the foundry.

  • Copper Cu
    The base of copper is a main element adding large percentages of brass or bronze during alloying produces and is utilized in nearly all of the metals we machine.
  • Aluminum Al
    The base of aluminum is a main element in the alloying of many other metals we machine.
  • Iron Fe
    The base of iron is a main element and additional percentages added during alloying makes iron castings and many other metals we machine.
  • Titanium
    Titanium our favorite metal is the base metal and with added elements during alloying it produce 40 grades of titanium and Ti is added to specialized stainless steels.

These 6 non metallic non alloy elements are vital in the making of metals

We would call these foundry smelter control elements

  • Sulfur S
    Added for machinability, extracted during alloying in some applications.
  • Oxygen O
    Added during alloying processes.
  • Nitrogen N
    Added during alloying process, precipitation strengthening.
  • Hydrogen H
    This is thermo hydrogen controls microstructures improves mechanical properties.
  • Phosphorus P
    Added during alloying to react to oxygen as an impurity.
  • Arsenic As
    Utilized in the dezincification process during the alloying process.
  • Selenium Se
    Partially replaces sulfur is a by product during refining.

These are the elements added to the above basic elements

Not to be confused with base metals iron, nickel, lead zinc and sometimes copper as these are capable of oxidizing or corroding elements and metals.

  • Carbon C
    The gift of life, known best for the creation of graphite diamond, this also turns iron into steel.
  • Nickel Ni
    Increases tensile strength, toughness and elastic limits.
  • Cobalt Co
    Added for high heat, wear resistance and strength applications.
  • Beryllium Be
    Adds stiffness and increase melting points.
  • Chromium Cr
    Strengthener adds additional corrosion resistance, It is the main element in the making of stainless steel.
  • Vanadium V
    Increases strength and wear is a temperature stabilizer enables metals to achieve high levels of hardness.
  • Calcium Ca
    Eases machinability, desulfurizes adds cleanliness.
  • Tungsten W
    Added to the toughest of metals, this is also the highest heat resistant metal element it boils at 10706 Degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Zirconium Zr
    Added in metals is for use in products in aggressive environments like watch cases, excellent in high temperature applications is very chemical resistant.
  • Molybdenum Mo
    This element is added for weldability, corrosion resistance and use in high heat applications.
  • Niobium Nb
    Element is added to alloying for strength and temperature stabilization in superalloys.
  • Boron B
    Added for strength and hardness considered a hardenability enhancement.
  • Selenium Se
    This element improves the machinability of steel, it is also utilized to replace lead in Brass.
  • Zinc Zn
    Adds great strength and corrosion resistance.
  • Tin Sn
    This element used in alloying provides corrosion resistance, replaced lead in many malleable applications.
  • Magnesium Mg
    Added during alloying to add strength and lighten weight.
    This can be made into a stand alone metal casting (brittle little to no impact) but very strong very light weight. As an additional alloying element it is a sulfur extractor during alloying of iron and steel.
  • Manganese Mn
    Added to aluminum during alloying approximately 1.5%.
    The manganese element has a different purpose in steel smelting, it is added to remove excess dissolved oxygen, sulfur and phosphorus to improve malleability.
  • Tellurium Te
    Added to copper and steel it improves machinability while adding strength and durability.
  • Lead Pb
    Mostly replaced in the alloying process by Zinc Zn, materials still contain lead such as some coppers.
  • Silicon Si
    Metallurgical grade acts as a sink for oxygen levels control in molten iron.
    Elemental silicon reduces cracking and thermal contraction.
    Reduces wear and increase harness in aluminum.
  • Hafnium Hf
    Added for enhanced corrosion resistance.
  • Palladium Pd:
    Adding this during the alloying process creates a film of oxy-hydroxide with great reduction of corrosion.
  • Ruthenium Ru
    Added during the alloying of titanium it provides additional corrosion resistance it is also added to single-crystal superalloys for high temperature resistance.
    The Ruthenium Ru element is the worlds mystery metal, it does a lot it melts at 4233 Degrees Fahrenheit, is wear resistant tough does not oxidize is very rare iin its amount on earth and it is the most acid proof metal on earth.

Machinability Scale

The machinability Scale shares a system for determining machining based on the ease or difficulty during machining test. This scale take into account how difficult or easy a metal can be machined with 100% for 1212 mild carbon steel being the baseline.

100% machinability is the medium meaning that there are materials like 316 stainless steel annealed that has a 45% machinability number, it is tougher to machine and materials like magnesium that are 480% are easier to machine.

The machinability scale is determined utilizing a weighed average of surface feet per minute at normal cutting speed, surface finish and tool life, magnitude of cutting force and power consumption, from this a machinability percentage is assigned to each metal after machining.

What the machinability scale conveys is that you are going to need to factor in machine run times, machine tools power consumption, tool cutter life and final machined part finishing into the cost to machine materials.

The purpose of the machinability scale is to share what a machinist should expect when making machined parts and that the cost of time and materials are going to be factors.

Rockwell Hardness Scale

The first idea of a non-destructive way to test metal material for hardness was conceived in 1908, however the theory would not become utilized by manufacturers until the early 1920’s and today manufacturers like Active Atom enjoy the continued use of the Rockwell Hardness Tester in our precision machined operations today.

What is a hardness tester needed for?
In the short explanation Rockwell Hardness Testing is just one more way we can assure that what you purchase is what you are receiving from Active Atom. This is a non-destructive testing of materials we utilize when making machined parts, it is a process performed after we have heated or cold worked a material that the worked material is as stated it is, to assure that the material is as strong or ductile as we intendedto prevent early wear of, mar or scratching, coating issues, or unintended cracking of the product you have purchased from Active Atom. Materials when they are supplied come with certifications that have the tinsel testing results, tinsel testing is a destructive pull test performed from a sample piece of the material that the foundry has produced at the same time as the actual material was produced. Once the material is machined, cold or hot worked when necessary at Active Atom like when material is heat treated or annealed hot or cold worked the strength and the properties of the metal will change and to assure that the material is at the necessary hardness after these alterations a Rockwell Hardness Test is performed and the results are documented.

How a Rockwell Hardness Tester works.
This is interesting to know as a buyer of our products you might find this interesting.
A Rockwell Scale Tester machine is a precision instrument that either mounted on a table top or is mounted on a stand, these testers come in manual operation , electronic automated operation or portable or hand held operation.

The end result is the same either way and in this case we are going to share the automated Rockwell Tester because this is the precision machine we know and utilize at Active Atom.

The machine has an anvil with a changeable table bed to fit various material sizes on it, you turn the crank of the anvil towards the indenter probe stationary at the top of the machine, located near the digital readout screen.

Once you have the anvil and the material to be tested near where the camera and indenter probe meets the material you turn the anvil ever closer watching the digital screen until the camera brings the material in perfect focus, at this point the camera rotates out of the way the selected indenter probe is rotated into the perfect alignment of the anvil surface and the test may being.

The material and the indenter make the minor force (same as turning the anvil of a manual machine until the small dial hand meets the red dot required to begin the major force test.

  1. Step One:
    Hit the start button, minor force is applied as indentation begins.
  2. Step Two:
    Additional or full force is automatically applied and this is applying the maximum indentation into the piece of material being tested.
  3. Step Three:
    The major force is released, the minor force remains in place and then the reading appears on the digital screen your final test results appear on the screen, you are done, simply hold your test material turn the anvil to release the material.
Hardness Testing is just one of the things we do around here to insure consistent precision machining and workmanship.

We primarily utilize the HRB (softer materials) and HRC (harder materials) Scales at Active Atom though there are 11 that operate on the Rockwell Hardness Tester machine.

We use 3 different probes named Indenters one is the B Scale tungsten carbide ball and the C Scale is the diamond spheroconical (diamond shaped cone).

There are requirements for the steel ball for thin materials when necessary.

Readings of softer materials HRC 20 or harder materials HRB 100 are not testable as they would be unreliable.

At Active Atom Precision Machining we machine materials well below the 100% machinability scale medium, meaning that the materials we machine are tough, but precision machining these alloyed materials is very achievable.