What is the difference between an alloy and a composite?

You are probably familiar with the terms ‘alloy’ and ‘composite’, but do you know the difference between the two?

An alloy consists of at least two components, at least one of which must be a metal. When the components are precisely blended, the new material takes on new desirable properties such as corrosion resistance and extra strength.

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Common alloys include stainless steel (iron and chromium-nickel), solder (tin and lead), brass (copper and zinc), and bronze (tin and copper). Stainless steel is used in the manufacturing of watches, utensils and surgical instruments, brass is used for household items and locks, and bronze is often used to make statues and medals.

A composite comprises at least two components of different types. The components often have noticeably different attributes, with blending them enhancing or adding desirable qualities to the resulting new material. The individual elements remain distinct within the new material.

Commonly used composites include carbon fibre, fibreglass, concrete, and cork. Wood is a naturally occurring composite that comprises a combination of lignin and cellulose fibres.

Nickel composites

One type of composite that is gaining popularity is the nickel composite. This has a number of advantages over other types, such as exceptional corrosion and wear resistance and additional hardness.

If you feel your business’s products could benefit from nickel composite treatments, there are several companies that specialise in this sphere. Many of these, such as www.poeton.co.uk/advanced-treatments/apticote-460-nickel-composites, have useful online resources.

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What are the main similarities and differences?

The main similarity is that both composites and alloys contain at least two components. The main difference is that whilst a composite can be made up of any type of material, an alloy must contain at least one metal.

Niru Taylor

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