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Metallurgists combine metals to create alloys that work differently than any of their components. Woodworkers might find this idea alien — mixing two woods just doesn’t go. Machinists might not even appreciate the beauty of this fantastic art and science, unless they carefully select the metals they work with. But the choice of a metallic alloy for a project or a part can make even more difference than a woodworker’s choice of species.

Metallurgists know how to achieve the desired blend of color, texture, hardness, stretch, deformation, brittleness, and other measurable qualities. They also add non-metals to the mix — carbon to make steel, silicon to make semiconductors, and diamond dust to make cutting tools. If you want to take a closer look, check out the link below for a fun place to start.

Photo posted on Flickr by catbutler.

Powder Metallurgy Diamond Tools [Elsevier]
Toolmonger Photo Pool [Flickr]


7 Responses to Metallurgy Is Hot

  1. Stuart says:

    I think that you mistakenly generalized metallurgists as any engineer or person that uses metallurgy.

    Also, (as far as I know) metallurgists do not blend silicon with metal to make semiconductors. Perhaps you meant semiconductor components, although that’s not really metallurgy at all.

    Lastly, which link is a fun place to start? The volcano photo, or the link to a $250 book on diamond tool manufacturing??

  2. J.R. Bluett says:

    Not that I’m an expert by any means, but here is a thimbleful of basics.
    I did certainly forget the link I intended for the mildly curious. And then, I have to beg pardons on the semi-conductor and silicon bit, it was late and I wasn’t thinking straight. I was intending something about superconductors, but sometimes things just don’t work right. I will do what I can to uphold better standards in the future. Probably this will involve more caffine.

    If anyone reading has any expertise on the topic, I’d really appreciate any information you would be willing to share.

  3. Brau says:

    Cool picture! Looks like a person rising out of the lava.

  4. DocN says:

    What does lava- which is molten rock- have to do with metallurgy?

    Isn’t that like showing a picture of a forest for an article about carpentry?


  5. Greg says:

    Metallurgy is a specialization that falls under the realm of Material Science and Engineering. While most metallurgists might not ever need to make semi-conductors, if they studied at any ABET accredited university, they most certainly had to study electrical materials. In much the same way any specialization in Material Science and Engineering, from metallurgy, polymers and ceramics to electronic materials and biomedical materials will be familiar with the processes and theory behind all the fields. While silicon probably wouldn’t be blended into metals to make a semi-conductor, metals are very commonly used to make metal oxide semi-conductor field effect transistors aka MOSFETs. In your diamond dust for cutting tools example, the work to prolong the working life of a tool would be primarily done by an engineer with the ceramic specialization. The amazing thing is that the diamond particles natural cleaving property allows for the particles to actually sharpen themselves during use. As the diamonds are used the cutting edge gets worn down, but once the internal stresses in the crystal reach their yield stress because the crystal cannot cut the material it is rubbing against, the crystal cleaves and the old work particle is swept away as dust while a brand new cutting edge at the cleave point takes over the cutting task. Brilliant design if you ask me.

    I love MSE and that is why I am currently studying it. There is so much to learn out there about the modern materials that not only make our world work but make it exciting too.

    One of my universities pages about MSE
    and the OSU MSE youtube page

  6. Baron says:

    Well, I don’t know about most folks, but a woodworking friend of mine is quite skilled at creating great looking pieces from two different pieces of wood. I am currently in possession of a lowboy he created for me that has a dark walnut top with a much, much lighter (I believe maple) bottom. Looks great! 🙂 Of course, he didn’t really “blend” the two to create something entirely different. The closet blending would be the dove tails.

  7. Shopmonger (aka Donny B) says:

    Funny how everyone slights what is a simply post about something so very cool. Although machinists would probably apprciate metalergy because many times making complex devices you would heat treat or even heat coat parts to have different interactions during the working process. If you have ever seen an injection mold they heat treat and harden ejector pins all the time. Back in school… we used diff metal properties all the time in designs. By the way the lava “Doc N” many times contained fantastic examples of metalurgy at work in nature. In fact if you go back in history of metal we find that many times these “natural” metal ors come from ………….. you guessed it, Molten lava. Metallurgy is the study of metal and its endless possibilites. Wood cannot be “bound or mixed” internally to create new properties. However you can externally bind it and make fantastic new properties…aka plywod, or MDF. Metal is our friend, but harder stronger metal is very fascinating. Greg is right is all fals under material science and in todays world you need to be able to encorporate more than one type of material in your design, from the professional to the home hobbyist. Ask Chuck and Sean…… SEE the center console project wood + Fabric + Resin = new shape and form.

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