Ferrous or Non-Ferrous - Which is Best for Sheet Metal Fabrication?

Ferrous or Non-Ferrous - Which is Best for Sheet Metal Fabrication?

October 2021

Various types of metals are used in sheet metal fabrication, from stainless steel to copper or even tin. Metals are generally categorised as ferrous or non-ferrous.

Various types of metals are used in sheet metal fabrication, from stainless steel to copper or even tin. Metals are generally categorised as ferrous or non-ferrous. The main difference between each category is the core component - iron. Ferrous metals contain iron and non-ferrous metals do not. Over and beyond iron content, there are a few other differences that make each type unique in benefits and application in sheet metal fabrication.

Choosing the Best Metal for Sheet Metal Fabrication

Which metal is the best option for sheet metal fabrication? The answer is that every metal has its own benefits. Types of metals in each category are as follows:

Ferrous Metals

This type of metal is extremely strong, thanks to its iron content. They are typically used in industrial and construction applications. These metals are also magnetic. Metals that fall under the category include:


  • Steel. This metal contains iron and carbon, making it extremely strong and ideal for construction and manufacturing.


  • Alloy. Chrome, nickel or titanium is added to increase durability without adding weight. It is ideal for construction, machine tools and electrical uses.


  • Carbon steel. With a high carbon content, this is one of the toughest steels, making it ideal for tools such as blades and drills.


  • Stainless steel. Extremely durable, heat and corrosion-resistant and versatile, this material is used in everything from surgical instruments to appliances and pipes.


  • Cast iron. This material is strong yet brittle. It is best suited to engine blocks, manhole covers and other heavy-duty applications.


Wrought iron. Containing minimal carbon, this alloy is corrosion and oxidation-resistant, used for chains, railings and barbed wires

Non-Ferrous Metals

These metals are not as strong as ferrous metals, however, they are easier to work with, with high resistance to corrosion. Metals in this category include:


  • Aluminium. Low strength, light and malleable, this is ideal for aircraft or food tins.


  • Copper. This malleable metal is ideal for wires and conductors as has a high conductivity to heat and electricity.


  • Zinc. One of the strongest non-ferrous metals, this metal has a low melting point and suitability for galvanisation.


  • Brass. This material is comprised of copper and zinc. It is ideal for ornaments and electrical fittings.


  • Lead. This malleable metal has a lower melting point. It is low-tensile and corrosion-resistant, making it good for cables, batteries and construction.


  • Tin. This is one of the softest metals. It can provide a coating for steel to reduce corrosion or be used to plate steel cans or bearings metals.


We hope that this guide from Bystronic offers insight into the metals that can be used for your sheet metal fabrication projects, using our premium quality laser cutting systems.

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