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In North America and in many other parts of the world, the number of formally trained metallurgical experts employed in industry has steadily declined over the course of the last several decades. This trend is the result of several different contributing factors. Seasoned professionals that have served in this capacity for many years may not be replaced on a permanent basis as they retire either due to cost containment efforts by their companies, or because it has become increasingly difficult for these companies to identify qualified replacement candidates. At the same time, the metallurgical departments of many academic institutions that were responsible for training the next generation of metallurgists have gradually been disbanded, or have been absorbed into other academic departments and programs. As fewer individuals choose to enter the field, and as an ever increasing number of metallurgical experts retire from the work force, their former responsibilities often fall upon the shoulders of the remaining members of the engineering, scientific, and design staff.

For those not formally trained in the discipline of metallurgy, or who possess only a peripheral knowledge of the subject, this can lead to a number of potential problems. These include a lack of understanding in the relationships between parameters involved in the processing of metallic materials such as melting, forging, rolling, cold working, machining, heat treatment, welding, etc. and their effects upon the resulting material properties; the relationship between alloying elements and their effects on the properties of the materials in which they are used; the forensic analysis of components that failed in service or that do not meet the requirements of the relevant material standards and specifications; quality assurance issues associated with the testing and manufacture of parts, components, and assemblies; uncertainty in the relevant parameters associated with the proper selection of materials for a given application; and the general process for assessing and understanding the relevant aspects of extractive, physical, and mechanical metallurgy. If you find yourself in any of these categories, or are a student or practicing professional who requires a working knowledge of metallurgy, this book was written for you.

From a commercial perspective, there are over 100,000 materials available today to select among for engineering applications, a far greater number than at any other time in history. And due to the continuing development of new alloys and new classes of engineering materials, the list continues to grow. The judicious selection of one material among this vast array of choices for a specific application requires an in-depth understanding of the properties and characteristics of the various classes of materials. And, the metallurgical characteristics and properties of metallic materials are often critical in assessing their capability to satisfy the requirements for a given application. This book may serve as an introductory text for those who have not been formally trained in the discipline of metallurgy. It may also serve as a reference for those who have received formal training in the discipline, but who need to reacquaint themselves with the subject. The reader will be introduced to the various working concepts in extractive, physical, and mechanical metallurgy, and to their practical application. The historical aspects in the development of these metallurgical concepts, practices, and tools are also provided in selected areas to educate the reader on the history behind many of the discoveries that led to the development of metallurgy as a scientific discipline.

For individuals who are unable to find the answers they seek in this book, or who require more in-depth knowledge on a particular subject, there are several references that are recommended throughout the text for further reading. Where this is insufficient, the reader may consult me directly through my website at Where appropriate, answers will be provided to the submitted questions, and additional resources suggested for further reading. I enjoy hearing from readers, and welcome their comments on the content, organization, and relevance of this book to their daily work.

I would like to acknowledge the assistance provided by the ASM International staff in the development of this book. In particular, I would like to thank Charles Moosbrugger who initially approached me about writing the second edition. And, I am especially grateful for Steven Lampman’s critiquing of the manuscript, and for his tireless assistance in editing the various chapters of this work. I would also like to acknowledge Ann Britton for providing access to reference materials that were used in writing the second edition. And, I would also like to acknowledge the countless others who contributed in some small way. Thank you all.

Art Reardon
May 2011

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