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METAL IDENTIFICATION

Many methods are used to identify a piece of metal. Identification is necessary when selecting a metal for use in fabrication or in determining its weldability. Some common methods used for field identification are surface appearance, spark test, chip test, and the use of a magnet.

SURFACE APPEARANCE

Sometimes it is possible to identify metals by their surface appearance. Table 1-3 indicates the surface col­ors of some of the more common metals. Referring to the table, you can see that the outside appearance of a metal helps to identify and classify metal. Newly frac­tured or freshly filed surfaces offer additional clues.

A surface examination does not always provide enough information for identification but should give us enough information to place the metal into a class. The color of the metal and the distinctive marks left from manufacturing help in determining the identity of the metal. Cast iron and malleable iron usually show evi­dence of the sand mold. Low-carbon steel often shows forging marks, and high-carbon steel shows either forg­ing or rolling marks. Feeling the surface may provide another clue. Stainless steel is slightly rough in the unfinished state, and the surfaces of wrought iron, cop­per, brass, bronze, nickel, and Monel are smooth. Lead also is smooth but has a velvety appearance.

When the surface appearance of a metal does not give enough information to allow positive identifica­tion, other identification tests become necessary. Some of these tests are complicated and require equipment we do not usually have; however, other tests are fairly simple and reliable when done by a skilled person. Three of these tests areas follows: the spark test, the chip test, and the magnetic tests.

Figure 1-2.-Terms used in spark testing.

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