There are many different types of metals in the world. And each type has its own sub-type, and they their own sub-type, and so forth. Many properties dictate how a metal is categorised, and these properties determine the applications they are most suited for. One of the most common distinctions between metals is whether they are ferrous or non-ferrous.

Non-ferrous metals have been used for thousands of years. Their use in civilisation dates back to the discovery of copper around 5000BC, marking the end of the Stone Age. The use of ferrous metals dates only as far back as around 1200BC, at the beginning if the Iron Age. Let’s take look at the difference between the two.

ferrous metal vs non-ferrous

Here we take a look at the difference between ferrous and non-ferrous materials, and the most common metal types in each category.

Ferrous Metal

Here at Steel Fabrication Services, we are most familiar with ferrous metals, steel being a prime example of this kind of material. Ferrous metal are favoured for their high tensile strength and durability, and thus are ubiquitous in building and construction. They are also common in shipbuilding, piping, civil and industrial infrastructure (bridges, railroads etc), and tools. Ferrous metals contain carbon, meaning the are susceptible to corrosion. Most are magnetic.

Common examples of ferrous metal include different types of steel, such as carbon steel and alloy steel, which are made by adding carbon to iron (plus other alloys in some circumstances); wrought iron, which is almost pure iron (with a little carbon) and is great for fencing, railings, nails, chains etc; and cast iron, which is made from iron, carbon, and silicon, which is used in piping, for tools and car engines, and stoves.

Non-Ferrous Metals

Non-ferrous metals are those that do not contain iron, and therefore are not magnetic, and are resistant to corrosion. Their main advantage over ferrous materials is their versatility – they have many uses outside of structural applications, and you will find them in everything from your smartphone, to jewellery, screws, wiring and appliances.

Common examples of non-ferrous metals include, lead, which is used in piping, batteries, and fuel; aluminium, which is used in food packaging, appliances, and vehicles; brass, which is used in screws, door knobs, and fixtures; silver, which is used for jewellery, cutlery, and household items like mirrors and vases; and copper, used for wiring, piping and more.

Key Differences between ferrous and non-ferrous metals

  1. Ferrous metals are vulnerable to rust whereas non-ferrous metals usually resist corrosion.
  2. Ferrous metals are magnetic, but non-ferrous metals are not.
  3. Non-ferrous metals are much lighter than ferrous metals.
  4. Non-ferrous metals are often more expensive than ferrous metals.

Source your metal from Steel Fabrication Services

Our team of expert structural steel fabricators have the experience and knowledge to answer any of your questions and will ensure that you find the best solution to suit your needs. To contact us today, simply call, fax, email or drop by our Brookvale location.

While you’re here, read more about steel and its benefits:

How To Choose the Best Type of Steel for Your Next Project

Uniform Attack Corrosion & Preventing Rust

Your Guide To Steel Surface Treatments: Hot Dipping