Non-ferrous metals

Non-ferrous metals are all metals except iron, and all metal alloys in which iron is not the major ingredient and the proportion of pure iron (Fe) does not exceed 50%. Examples of these are copper, aluminium, zinc, bronze, brass. 

Non-ferrous metals are all metal alloys in which the proportion of pure iron (Fe) does not exceed 50%.
Pure metals are marked with their chemical symbol and the purity as a percentage. When it comes to precious metals that are used to make jewellery and coins, there is also the historically established measure called karat.

In Germany, non-ferrous alloys were identified by the system laid down in DIN standard 1700, which was withdrawn in May 2000. This standard listed the chemical symbol of the base metal and the main alloying element, followed by the alloy content as a percentage by mass (above a percentage of 1%).

This meant that the AlMn1 alloy is an aluminium alloy with 1% manganese; the CuNi25Zn15 alloy is a copper alloy with 25% nickel and 15% zinc.

Non-ferrous metals are found in many areas of engineering and everyday life:

  • As castings (sand, mould or die casting) (zinc, aluminium, magnesium, lead)
  • As construction materials for aeroplanes and lightweight constructions (aluminium, magnesium, titanium)
  • As electric conductors (cables, bus bars, contacts)
  • As bearing materials for vehicle engines (crankshaft bearings, connecting rod bearings), electric motors, marine propulsion systems, as gear bearings generally
  • As coating materials for corrosion protection (zinc plating, tin plating)
  • For storing electric energy (storage batteries, motor vehicle batteries)
  • As a material for roofing (lead, zinc and copper roofing)
  • As preformed parts in the construction trade (gutters, downpipes)
  • For all sizes of containers in connection with food and luxury goods (pewter drinking vessels, brewers' coppers and many more)
  • For jewellery and coins
  • As sintered parts