Aluminium is a light, flexible metal and a good conductor. For many years, the metal was so precious that it was used in ornaments. Only in 1886 did large-scale production become possible, thanks to electrochemistry.


Bronze is a compound of tin and copper, a combination that makes the metal harder and stronger. Bronze is fairly soft and can be shaped and hammered out easily. It is also easy to cast in a mould.


Iron is an extremely strong metal and is often used in cars, vessels, and large structures. The earth’s crust consists of about five per cent iron, and iron mines can be found the world over.


Copper is flexible and a good conductor of electricity and heat, which means that it is widely used in industry – in copper wire, for example, electric motors, and generators.


Lead is a pollutant and not frequently used nowadays, but it is can be used again in the construction industry in the Netherlands on account of its recyclability.


Brass, also known as yellow copper, is a compound of copper and zinc. Brass is easy to work and has an attractive colour that resembles gold.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel has many uses in and around the home. Stainless steel is a compound of iron, chromium, nickel, and carbon. The quantity of carbon determines the hardness of the steel.


Approximately 1600 million tonnes of steel are produced worldwide every year. It is widely used as a structural material for bridges and other large structures. There are many types of steel which vary in their composition of iron and carbon. The carbon is used to obtain high tensile strength and hardness.


Tin has a hardening effect on copper. As such, it is primarily used for making tools and weapons. Current uses include solder for plumbing, book printing, decorative drinking vessels, and church bells.


You are probably familiar with zinc from your batteries, downpipes, gutters, or as a metal used in coins. It can also be found in cars (as an eco-friendly substitute for lead) and in the compounds brass, silver nickel, and tin.

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