A hierarchy of metallic engineering would reflect general-use, non ferrous metals as the first rung of the ladder. These materials, predominantly copper and aluminum and their alloys (e.g., brass and bronze), are easily formed and highly serviceable in many natural environments. Next up would be steels and cast irons.
The development, production and marketing of these high-performance, superalloy products require specialized knowledge, unique facilities, and high-tech application engineering. Producers of the alloys stand apart from the mega-volume producers of commodity steels. Manufacturers of high-performance alloys constitute a recognized individual segment of the industrial economy.
The alloys in all four groups have significant corrosion resistance by virtue of their chemical compositions. A number of the alloys, however, are specifically intended for use in acids and other industrial chemicals, corrosive waters, commercial food and beverage processing, pollution control, and similar areas where the main criterion for selection is resistance to the environment.
The manufacture of high performance alloys requires the most sophisticated equipment and highest level of expert knowledge in the metals industry. Alloying, refining, hot working, cold working, and associated quality control are done by strictly defined and monitored procedures to ensure that finished products meet exacting performance standards.