> 13/08/2019

Ferrous vs Non-Ferrous Metals

From the periodic table, 91 out of 118 elements are metals, showing just how many types of metals there are. Whilst metals have a lot of shared properties, there are distinct differences that make certain metals better to use in certain products and uses.

What is the difference between ferrous or non-ferrous metals?

Metals are divided into ferrous and non-ferrous metals, which basically differentiates between metals that contain iron (ferrous) and ones that don’t contain iron (non-ferrous). Ferrous metals are often used in the construction industry because they provide high levels of tensile strength and durability. Industries use ferrous metals for building structures that must demonstrate the highest levels of strength, such as large bridges, skyscrapers and railway tracks.

Ferrous metals include:

  • Steel
  • Stainless steel
  • Carbon steel
  • Cast iron and wrought iron


Engineering steel combines alloys such as chromium, nickel and titanium to achieve additional properties, usually for use in construction.


Non-ferrous metals include:

  • Aluminium
  • Copper
  • Lead
  • Nickel
  • Brass
  • Tin

Non-ferrous metals offer a lightweight alternative to ferrous and have higher conductivity. Another quality of non-ferrous metals is that they have a higher resistance to corrosion and rust, which is why copper is the most common metal used for plumbing, so the pipes won’t corrode when carrying water continually.

The lightweight property makes metals like aluminium ideal for important products including aeroplane parts, as well as everyday household items like kitchen utensils. They provide a stronger product than plastic utensils, for example, and will not melt when cooking due to the high melting point.

Non-ferrous metals are more commonly recycled and used again, making them a more sustainable option than their ferrous counterparts.

The high conductivity of copper and other non-ferrous metals mean that they are commonly used in electrical components. The only metal that has higher levels of conductivity is silver but that is a more expensive metal to use, so copper is used in examples like residential electrical goods.

Whilst copper has some very important properties that can be put to great use, it is important to order copper from a trustworthy supplier to ensure the quality of components, for example. Metelec is the UK’s leading copper manufacturer and stockholders, guaranteeing the quality of shaped copper and with a huge volume of stock, orders can be dispatched nationwide within 24 hours. Whatever your copper requirements are, contact one of the copper experts at Metelec to discuss them in more detail and talk about any bespoke requirements you have.

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