Is steel top dog?
One thing for certain is that metals are great products that have multiple uses. The are used in everything from building structures to home appliances. The variety of application makes them easy to use, and many innovations have been developed to make them into stronger material than they are alone.
There are many developments of how metals are being changed into composite materials to make them stronger, make them last longer, and make them more beautiful. Why are we doing this? Well, according to howstuffworks.com, “While no one alternative has become a standard to replace steel, materials like engineered timber and metal composites are becoming more common in new construction projects.” This is them saying that, technology of the past has worked so far, why not push it further and make something that is more economical and sustainable. Steel is not a cheap material anymore to make because the price of everything needed to make it such as iron and coal, are more expensive to mine. So mixing the materials, gives pure steel a run for its money. Although not yet “cheap”, having the added safety and durability is sometimes worth the cost.
I feel like metal use, like any technology, must advance with society, culture, and demand. Since we MUST start thinking more sustainable about how much we consume, we have to find a way to extend what we have and use less. Is just so happens that us as a society thinking more sustainable gives us a stronger product. One material that really caught my eye was Metal Matrix Composite. A MMC is defined as a composite material with at least two constituent parts, one being a metal. The other material may be a different metal or another material, such as a ceramic or organic compound. When at least three materials are present, it is called a hybrid composite. The material is very complicated as far as structure goes, and what constitutes the makeup of the materials themselves. This link gives a great description of what the material is itself.
What really inspired me was what the material can be used in and for. There are many automobile companies that have included this metal in their brakes and engine blocks, it is used in aviation and space systems, and is seen even in small application such as drill bits and bicycle frames. So many uses and scales of use offer a huge way to use this composite material. In many applications it is for safety and durability, which calls for less material to replace the old.
Metal is one of those products that can be used anywhere, and we don’t even notice it half the time. So if there is a new discovery to make something better, faster, stronger, why not go for it. Just like with electric cars, with development comes high cost, but as development continues, it becomes more economical.