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Common Types of Metal—and What They’re Used For

Common Types of Metal—and What They’re Used For

Understanding the different types of metal that are available and how they’re used has broad implications. For example, maybe you have an industrial project requiring catches and latches, or you might be manufacturing your own product line. It’s also relevant in both commercial and residential construction. 

With that in mind, the following is an overview of some of the most commonly used types of metal and how they’re frequently applied in various projects. 


Steel is one of the most commonly used and popular types of metal for broad applications. 

Steel is a carbon and iron alloy. 

Steel is a strong metal, and it can remain lightweight thanks to its strength-to-weight ratio. 

There are different subtypes of steel, and they’re often classified in their own categories. 

Steel isn’t pure metal, but it’s been used for thousands of years. During the Renaissance period, it started to be more widely used. 

Alloy Steel

A subtype of steel, alloyed steel, adds some other elements into the combination. Alloy steel is cheap, and it can be combined with a variety of elements like nickel, tungsten and manganese. 

Alloy steel can be used to provide additional corrosion resistance, and it works well for gears. Specific uses of alloy steel include in the construction of car engines, jet engines and turbine blades. 

There are two categories of alloy steel—low-alloy and high-alloy. The difference is in the amount of alloy used. 

Stainless Steel

This metal combines iron and carbon along with chromium and sometimes other metal residues. This versatile material is often used for household projects and can be used in the construction of furniture, sinks, utensils and more. 

It is very corrosion-resistant.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is an alloy that has a relatively high amount of carbon. Carbon included in the mix provides durability, malleability and a lower melting point. It’s efficient as far as heat distribution. 

Applications of carbon steel include the creation of bridges, cars, and tools. It’s also used for high-strength wires. 

Tool Steel

This is used for drilling and cutting tools. Tool steel is hard and usually contains vanadium, tungsten, and cobalt. 


Iron is the most common element on earth, making it not just abundant but also a popular choice. Iron makes up around 5% of the planet’s crust, but unalloyed versions tend to react easily with oxygen. 

Iron is usually alloyed with other elements, which then creates steel.

 Common Types of Metal—and What They’re Used For


Aluminum was at one point in history more valuable than both gold and silver. Aluminum naturally occurs in the earth’s crust and is the second-most abundant metal. 

However, pure aluminum isn’t used very often because it oxidizes when it’s exposed to air. Aluminum even in the crust of the earth, doesn’t represent its pure form. 

Inside the crush, the main source of aluminum is called bauxite ore. That is made through the bonding of hydrated iron oxide and hydrated aluminum oxide. 

Aluminum is soft, lightweight, conductive, and corrosion-resistant. All of those properties make it a pretty popular choice for a variety of projects. 

Aluminum can be used to make aircraft and car parts because it’s lightweight. 

Aluminum alloys are sometimes used to make power lines and aluminum is broadly used in construction. It’s frequently found in packaging items like medicines and food because it provides a barrier against light, oxygen, moisture and bacteria. It’s good for cooking tools since it boasts thermal efficiency that can help prevent overheating. 


Copper, like many of the other metals on this list, has a long history of use. Copper is both malleable and ductile, and it conducts heat and electricity, which explains why it’s used in wiring and electrical components. The only other metal that’s better than copper for conductivity is silver. 

Copper isn’t naturally occurring in the pure form. 


This engineering metal is a combination of strong and lightweight. It can withstand high temperatures and remain stable, and as a result, it’s used in military equipment and the aerospace industry. It’s also corrosion-resistant, making it useful for some metal applications. 


Bronze is a copper alloy that contains tin. When other elements are added, it becomes more suitable for a variety of projects. 

Bronze is hard but brittle at the same time. It does have good thermal and electrical conductivity, as well as corrosion resistance. 


Finally, there’s brass, which is an alloy made up of zinc and copper. Brass has a low melting point and it’s malleable. Since it looks like gold, it’s frequently used to make decorative items like drawer pulls. 

Metal Fabrication 

Sheet metal fabrication refers to turning flat metal sheets into desired shapes and structures. Manufacturing automotive bodies, home appliance housings, building fixtures, and aircraft frames use large-area metal sheet products. On the other hand, small sheet metals make washers, metal windows, car parts, cans, hand tools, kitchenware, and pipe fittings.  

Metal fabrication companies cut, punch, fold, and assemble steel, aluminum, or other metals. They use special tools, like saws, press brakes, and cutting torches to achieve the size, shape, and appearance of metal structures. Welding techniques include metal sand covering during the cooling process. The straightening of deflected metals involves staggered welding and utilizing a stout fixture and an oxy-acetylene torch.  

Subsequently, the gradual application of heat eliminates flaws. The final finishing techniques include sandblasting, priming, and painting to ensure the metal structure looks perfect and ready for client pick-up or delivery. 


Understanding the various types of metal can help you plan your next home renovation, building construction, or do-it-yourself metal craft projects. Metals are durable, versatile, and widely used materials in many applications and industries. Whether in furniture making, automotive, or construction, metals have many uses and benefits that can help improve the economy and people’s quality of life.