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These are added to plain carbon steels to improve their existing properties and also to introduce new properties such as corrosion resistance.

Nickel (1 to 8%)

Increases strength and toughness with little loss of ductility, giving good erosion resistance. Nickel is a 'grain refiner', forming a fine grained material, but fortunately it is also a 'powerful graphitiser'. It is used in amounts up to 5%; as a grain refiner in case-hardened steels. Larger amounts are used in stainless steel and heat resistance steels.

Manganese (1 to 2%)

Reduces the ill effect of Oxygen and Sulphur and 'increases strength'.

Silicon (up to 1%)

Reduces the ill effect of Oxygen and Sulphur and 'increases strength'. Also gives good casting fluidity (up to 0.3%) and used in some heat resisting steels (up to 1%).

Chromium (0.25 to 18%)

Used in small amounts in constructional steels, tools steels, and ball races. Used in large amounts in stainless steels and heat resisting steels. Induces 'hardness', improves resistance to erosion, corrosion and high temperatures. Increases strength with unfortunately increases brittleness due to increasing of grain size.

Molybdenum (0.5 to 1%)

Increase strength, heat and creep resistance at high temperatures. Used for superheater tubes, turbine rotors, etc.

Vanadium (0.2 to 4%)

Used in steels required to retain hardness at high temperatures e.g. Hot Forging Dies. Increases strength and fatigue resistance. Used in conjunction with Molybdenum for boiler tube material.

Related Terms


The copper-rich alloys are known as cupro-nickel (Cu:70: Ni:30) used for condenser tubes.

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