When producing metal parts, we have a lot of solutions in production, soft metals are often used in sheet metal fabrication and CNC machining.
Elemental aluminum is soft and highly mixable, making it a weak mechanical candidate. Aluminum is instead generally mixed with a mixture of other elements such as silicone, copper, magnesium or zinc, then heat-treated to produce the strong, lightweights currently used in aircraft, cars, and a range of consumer goods.
Let's discuss two aluminum types: 6061-T651 and 7075-T651. The T-suffix means how the material was treated, then mechanically extended 1 to 3 percent after heat treatment in order to remove residual tension. 6061 magnesium and silicon alloy alloy and delivers a yield force of 40,000 psi in its wrought form. Given its proper equipment, this is very resistant, weldable and is an ideal option for low fatigue uses, such as machinery structural components, hydraulic valve systems, marine and automotive parts, as well as for most applications where durable, lightweight materials are needed.
It provides yield strength nearly twice that of its weaker cousin, but at nearly three times its cost. Aluminum 7075 is harder and stronger than 6061. Zinc, magnesium and copper are the main alloying components. America's military uses 7075 in many of its weapons, cast 7075 aluminum connection rods are used in top fuel tractors and Boeing wing spars consist of 7075. This is hard things. It's hard things. Indeed, only the 6061 win is in terms of the resistance to corrosion and in sections that need to "give" a little more than 7075. Fast processing is available in both materials, although 7075 is a bit abrasive.
Magnesium, the fourth most abundant element on the earth's crust, is another common lightweight material. The lightest of all structural metals is two thirds the weight of 6061 and nearly as heavy. Magnesium is the preferred material anywhere good strength and low weight are necessary. Cameras and cellphone bodies, power tool frames, laptop computer chassis. Car manufacturers use magnesium in transmission boxes, seat frames and intake collectors in an attempt to increase fuel efficiency. Aluminum and zinc is the most common alloy in magnesium. It has excellent damping features, is very clean and easy to mould.
A further disadvantage is its reduced force at high temperatures, in addition to the susceptibility to corrosion of magnesium, even though Volkswagen used magnesium successfully for over 50 years in the crankcase of its air-cooled Beetle engine. Prices are more costly than aluminum, however, partially mitigated by magnesium's relative ease of production.
Brass and copper, the kissing cousins of the metal family, complete the soft metal lineup. Brass is the most flexible of these two. It is highly weather resistant and corrosion-resistant, apart from conditions with heavy ammonia and certain acids. You have handled the parts made of brass if you've ever changed a car radiator, sold a kitchen faucet, or played a French horn.
Cutting back a few points on the copper percentage provides a rivet and screw metal blanket. Cut off a little more, add some iron, and you have made metal from Muntz, fine for architectural trimming and lining the bottoms of the vessels. Increase the copper content, throw a touch of nickel and manganese and you get one dollar coins from Sacagawea. The ultimate hitter is brass. brass.