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Testing of metals is usually undertaken with sophisticated instruments. However, you can demonstrate to your students the basic differences between certain classes of metals using the simple spark test, presented here. You can even have your students test their “titanium” sports equipment to see if it really titanium! In many cases, they will find that the name “titanium” is used for marketing but little will be found in the product. In the process, students see the visible result of the carbon content in steel, and the lack of carbon in other materials, plus realize the reactivity of titanium metal.
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Developer National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education
Edmonds Community College
Thomas Stoebe, Author
Student Level Community college
Activities Demonstration with discussion or lab.
Topic steel, titanium, aluminum, alloys, property testing
Format HTML, pdf
MatEdU Core Competencies 0B. Prepare tests and analyze results
6B. Apply concepts of fluids, heat and thermal conduction
7A. Identify the general nature of metals
8C. Perform visual and nondestructive testing methods for solids
9A. Define and describe consititents, properties and processing of steel
9C. Identify types, properties and processing in aluminum and its alloys
9H. Identify uses and processing of titanium and its alloys
Instruction Time 15 min
Supplies and Equipment A grinding wheel
low carbon steel (nails, fasteners)
high carbon tool steel (hammer, chisel, cutting tools)
high speed steel (drill bits)
cast or wrought iron (horse shoes, cookware, engine block parts)
stainless steel (knives, tableware, cooking utensils)
titanium (get a real titanium bolt to make sure you really have titanium)
aluminum and/or brass
Hand-held vice
Safety glasses and gloves for the demonstrator
Location with a dark background for visibility of the spark train
Available From
Date 2009-09-03
Original Reviewer Tom Stoebe
Updated Review By Hsien-Lin Huang
Date Of Record Creation 2009-09-04 00:02:20
Date Of Record Release 2009-09-04 00:08:44
Date Last Modified 2016-01-06 15:11:33

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