What is an Alloy? - Definition & Examples

What is an Alloy? - Definition & Examples
Coming up next: Viscosity Index: Definition & Formula

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 Everyday Metals
  • 0:30 Advantages of Alloys
  • 1:09 Types of Alloys
  • 1:44 How to Make an Alloy
  • 2:20 Alloy Composition Calculations
  • 3:45 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Nick Rogers
Alloys are mixtures of metal with other metals or non-metals. This process gives the material more desirable properties, such as increased hardness and lower melting points.

Everyday Metals

You probably see metal every day, but you may not realize that 90% of the metal that you encounter is actually what we call an alloy. An alloy is a mixture of metal with a second metal or other non-metal material. Airplanes, bicycles, and cooking pots are all usually made of different types of alloys. Some popular alloys include brass, solder metal, pewter, and sterling silver.

Advantages of Alloys

Mixing metals together or with non-metals offers many advantages. These combination materials can have enhanced hardness, lower melting points, and better tensile strength. Since pure metals have a high melting point, they tend to be very soft. Pure gold tends to be very malleable and is easily bent with a small amount of heat applied. This is the reason why most gold jewelry is actually an alloy.

Metals tend to be very reactive and have high melting points. Iron, for example, is very strong but reacts with moisture in the air and can rust very easily. Casting iron as an alloy can help to increase its inertness and prevent this.

Types of Alloys

There are two main types of alloys. These are called substitution alloys and interstitial alloys.

In substitution alloys, the atoms of the original metal are literally replaced with atoms that have roughly the same size from another material. Brass, for example, is an example of a substitution alloy of copper and zinc.

Interstitial alloys, on the other hand, mix together atoms that have very different sizes. Atoms are added to the original metal that are much smaller. For example, steel is created by adding a small number of carbon atoms in between the larger atoms in iron.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support