Metallurgy is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as the scientific study of metals and their use. It is a branch of material science and engineering. Metallurgists deal with the physical and chemical properties of metals, intermetallic compounds, alloys, mixtures etc. One prominent definition of metallurgy would be the difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgies. Since irons constitute 95% of the global metal production, ferrous metallurgy forms a major division of metallurgical study.
Extractive metallurgy1 is that part of metallurgy study which focuses more on the extraction, purification and refining of metals from their raw form to pure forms. Physical metallurgy2 is a division of metallurgy with more focus on the study of physical and structural properties of metals and alloys. Mechanical metallurgy3 is a relatively newer division of metallurgy and it deals more with the study of the response of metals to applied forces. There are several subdivisions in each of the three main divisions of metallurgy.
Apart from basic engineering sciences a typical metallurgy engineering student studies topics such as foundry, metal forming, materials technology, steel production, extractive metallurgy, metal joining processes, industrial management, bio-materials, powder metallurgy, fracture mechanics, failure analysis, corrosion engineering, heat treatment etc. Non-core subjects such as the environmental influence of metallurgy, and metallurgical economics constitute part of the metallurgical syllabus in several universities worldwide. Advancements in metallurgy engineering are contributing to several engineering advantages such as energy conservation, energy conversion, electronics, biomedicine, structures etc.
There are several professional societies working for better usage of minerals and metallurgy with consideration to environmental harmony. Metallurgy engineers can find career opportunities in both industry and research.
1. Gilchrist, J.D 1989, "Extraction Metallurgy", Pergamon Press.
2. Doan, G.E. and Mahla, E.M., 1941.The principles of physical metallurgy. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Incorporated.
3. Dieter, G.E. and Bacon, D 1986, Mechanical metallurgy (Vol. 3). New York: McGraw-Hill.
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