There is no general answer to the question of what metal is made of. However, in this article we explain which properties are characteristic of metals and which metals are particularly common in our everyday lives.
This is what you should know: What is metal made of?
A metal is not a specific substance, but a generic term for a group of chemical elements with very similar properties and a specific atomic structure.
- About 80 percent of the chemical elements in the periodic table (PSE) are assigned to the group of metals.
- The most famous representatives are, for example, iron, aluminium, silver or gold.
- Metallic materials are technically processed metals and their alloys.
- Four chemical properties are characteristic of metals: they are all electrically conductive, have good thermal conductivity, can be deformed under the influence of heat and exhibit metallic luster.
- Metals mostly occur as raw materials in our earth’s crust or in the earth’s core as ores and are not produced in their pure form. From mined ores, the pure metals are extracted in processing and separated from other rock.
Chemical properties and classification of metals
All metals have a similar chemical structure. A crystalline lattice structure is formed by the solidification of the melt after processing and guarantees chemical stability.
- With metals, a distinction is made between ferrous and non-ferrous materials. Steel alloys and iron castings, the main materials used in industry, belong to the first group.
- Iron and steel are also classified as heavy metals. Cars, bridges or technical machines are often made of these substances. Heavy metals must be shielded against rust by external protection.
- Many heavy metals are dangerous to humans. Certain uranium and lead isotopes are radioactive and are used in nuclear power plants to convert energy.
- Precious metals such as gold, silver or germanium are particularly resistant to oxidation and rust.
- Light metals are all metal materials with a density of less than five kilograms per cubic decimetre. The most common light metal is aluminium, which is used in aircraft construction, for example.