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Get to Know: Ferrous Metals

Here at Qualitetch, we deal with metals of all kinds in our photo etching and various other metalwork processes. Usually, we handle non-ferrous metals, but we think it is good to know all about the different metals available so you can make an informed decision with your projects.

That is why we have put together these fun facts (below), to help you get better acquainted with ferrous metals like steel and iron. So read on and get to know these two materials a little better.


  • Steel expands when it is heated, in the same way as iron. That means that steel structures and components working in different temperatures or heat extremes will need to accommodate the change. The Eiffel Tower is a prime example, standing approximately six inches taller in the summer than in colder months.
  • In 1912, stainless steel was stumbled across during a metallurgy experiment designed to find erosion protection for cannons. It was commercially produced in 1913 and has proceeded to take over the world ever since. Today, two-thirds of cans in the supermarket are derived from steel; just one example of how common and integral the material is to contemporary everyday life.
  • In its purest form, steel is a powerful metal. In fact, before any tampering, steel is stronger than iron; up to 1000 times stronger. Once steel is processed to produce an alloy, like stainless steel, it loses some of this strength, but it offers plenty of other benefits besides.
  • The United States is not just a big producer of steel; they are a major recycler too. Every day, America recycles enough steel to equal 25 Eiffel Towers. This is an impressive amount, but it demonstrates the versatility and sustainability of this metal, as well as the many uses it can have.
  • Steel is a bit of a Peter Pan metal. Used for a multitude of purposes and repeatedly recycled, it will not lose its strength. The never-ending metal.


  • Iron is somewhat of a veteran when it comes to popular, commonly used metals. In its purest form, the element has been known for at least five millennia. Over the last few thousand years though, it has been recognised as fundamental to life, and it has been experimented with and adapted to suit the needs of modern day life.
  • Magnitogorsk, a Russian mountain, is made predominantly from iron. Though the exact figure is not known, it is suspected to hold around 7 to 10 billion pounds of Iron Ore. This is an astonishing concentration, especially when compared with many of the world’s other iron sources. Interestingly, the asteroid, 16 Psyche, is thought to contain enough iron to fuel our consumption for millions of years.
  • Iron is not only naturally occurring as an ore, but it is also found in organic matter. As well as the iron content in spinach, there is iron in the bacteria magnetospirillium magneticum, and there is a species of sea snail with skeletal iron in the form of iron plated body armour.
  • Iron is quite literally out of this world. Formed through the fusion in certain stars, such as the sun, it is a space-born metal. On Earth though, it is most commonly used to make steel.
  • We use iron for all sorts now, but it was not always produced by smelting. Iron weapons were once created using the iron found in fallen meteorites. Of course, the smelting process and the ability to source readily available iron has made using it far easier.

These are just a few interesting facts to help you get to know these metals better. For more on what processes are suitable, and what projects can benefit from steel and iron, browse our site or get in touch with Qualitetch today.