Common engineering metals include aluminium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, nickel, titanium and zinc. These are most often used as alloys. Much effort has been placed on understanding the iron-carbon alloy system, which includes steels and cast irons. Plain carbon steels (those that contain essentially only carbon as an alloying element) are used in low-cost, high-strength applications where weight and corrosion are not a problem. Cast irons, including ductile iron, are also part of the iron-carbon system.

Stainless steel or galvanized steel is used where resistance to corrosion is important. Aluminium alloys and magnesium alloys are used for applications where strength and lightness are required.

Copper-nickel alloys (such as Monel) are used in highly corrosive environments and for non-magnetic applications. Nickel-based superalloys like Inconel are used in high-temperature applications such as gas turbines, turbochargers, pressure vessels, and heat exchangers. For extremely high temperatures, single crystal alloys are used to minimize creep.

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