Ferrous vs. Non-Ferrous Metals

Welding metal fabrication

A Quick Lesson

What is the difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metals?
The basic answer is:

Ferrous metals have iron and non-ferrous metals do not have iron. Simple enough, right? Well, the distinctions become more varied when you start discussing specific applications.

Ferrous metals include:

  • Cast iron: Used for cookware, engines, etc.
  • Wrought iron: Used for fences, gates, etc.
  • Alloy steel: Used for tools, construction, etc.
  • Carbon steel: Used for tools, construction, etc.

Ferrous Alloy and Carbon Steel used in Metal Fabrication

Ferrous metals are known for their strength and durability, which is why they are used in construction projects.

However, these metals also have a high carbon content, and are, therefore, susceptible to rust in many cases. Stainless steel and wrought iron are the exceptions to this corrosion vulnerability.

Sawyer Fabrication’s Blast and Coatings department finishes fabricated metal components to help corrosion control.

Non-Ferrous metals include:

  • Copper: Used for wiring, appliance, etc.
  • Aluminum: Used for aircrafts, vehicles, electrical, etc.
  • Silver: Used for jewelry, electronics, etc.
  • Gold: Used for jewelry, electronics, etc.
  • Lead: Used for pipes, batteries, etc.
  • Brass: Used for screws, hardware, etc.

Non-ferrous metals are much more malleable and lighter than ferrous metals. This makes them especially useful for applications where weight and workability are prized. These metals also have a high resistance to corrosion because of their lack of iron content, and they are non-magnetic, which is an important attribute for electronic applications.

Despite the litany of physical differences between ferrous and non-ferrous metals, it’s possible the most important one is actually the most basic: cost. Non-ferrous metals are simply much more expensive due to their lack of availability. While ferrous metals like iron and carbon are cheap and plentiful, the non-ferrous metals are neither.

Sawyer Fabrication uses materials of all types in its processes, and the Sawyer craftsmen are certified experts when working with ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Give them a call today to see what their custom fabrication shop can do for you.


Based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sawyer Fabrication provides high-quality American contract manufacturing services to the greater Midwest region and beyond. From high-performance industrial fabrication projects to specialized welding and machining services, we offer the responsiveness and support that your premium products deserve.

Made In USA Tulsa OK logo

View Sawyer Fabrication Projects and follow us on Instagram to see more of what we are doing.