Iron is one of the most basic building blocks of matter in our universe, from the microscopic particles in our blood to the iron ores found in the earth. It’s reliable and versatile, and we’ve been creating useful alloys from it for literally thousands of years. Take a closer look at two of the most commonly used iron alloys: malleable iron and cast iron.
Composition and Physical Properties
The key difference between these two types of iron lies in their chemical composition. Put simply, cast iron has a significantly higher amount of carbon than malleable iron. Malleable iron contains roughly 0.08-0.2% carbon, while cast iron contains roughly 2-4.5% carbon.¹
The carbon content is part of what makes certain iron alloys more pliable than others. The less carbon there is in the alloy, the easier it will be to bend and shape. Malleable iron is—as you might expect—highly pliable and can be shaped even without the addition of heat. Cast iron, on the other hand, is extremely rigid and difficult to alter once it has hardened.
The pliable nature of malleable iron means it’s more shock absorbent than cast iron, but that also means that it’s more susceptible to the effects of temperature. It’s not necessarily a great fit for applications where the need for precision doesn’t allow for much expansion (when heated) or contraction (when cooled).
Malleable iron is made from cast iron. During the annealing process, things like hematite ore, magnesium, and sodium are added to the mix to create a strong but workable result.
Common Uses and Functions
While the two metals have many surface similarities, the unique properties of malleable and cast iron make them useful for some very different applications.
Cast iron is extremely resistant to corrosion, wear, and deformation, making it ideal for things like pipes and machine parts that need to work reliably for a long time. Its durability, heat resistance, and nonstick properties also make for long-lasting, easy-to-clean pots and pans. It can also be used to manufacture sturdy cast iron doors and gates.
Malleable iron is especially valuable for small parts that need to remain flexible, as well as strong, such as electrical fittings and hand tools. Because it is easily shaped, melted, and cast, malleable iron can also be used to add intricate decorative elements to an iron entrance door.
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At Universal Iron Doors, we’ve helped customers across the United States add poise and security to their homes and businesses with beautiful, high-quality wrought iron doors.
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Browse our live inventory of elegant iron doors right now, or call (818) 771-1003 to schedule a free consultation to discuss how we can help you can take your property to the next level.