2018 was a great year for many of our customers. And one of our favorite examples of just how good the year turned out was the 20 Years Strong competition! We received hundreds of entries from our customers, and most of them were made in 2018. We were absolutely blown away by the responses we got, both in quality and quantity. To this end, we wanted to look back at the winning entries and see what materials they used!
One thing that caught my attention was how they all used similar materials. The fact that the same metal can be used to make beautiful, delicate pieces of decoration, or deep sea submarines, just speaks to the versatility of metals!
One of our more popular metals used in the competition, aluminum is also one of the most popular metals in the world. Pisces VI, Medieval One, and the Sonderlon microphone all used the 6061 alloy. An extremely versatile alloy, it is strong, light, corrosion resistance, easy to machine, and relatively inexpensive. 6061 is a great choice for almost any project you can think of.
Pisces VI and Medieval One both utilized the metal for structural support, as well as brackets and attachment points for other components. The Sonderlon mic used it for parts of the housing as well as more specialized internal components.
Brass is one of the most popular metals in the world, and brass 360 is one of the most popular alloys. The main value of this metal is its beauty and ease of machining. Also called “Free machining brass,” 360 contains a hint of lead to make the metal softer and easier to machine. But it still polishes well, has decent strength, and is gorgeous. The body of the Cometarium, along with many of the gears, are made from this versatile alloy. The Sonderlon uses it for similar purpose, and some of the decorative and finer features take advantage of 360’s strengths.
One of the first metals ever used by humans, copper is always prized for it’s appearance, ductility, electrical/thermal conductivity, and its appearance. Both the money chest and the Sonderlon mics used copper 110 for different applications. The chest, as you can see below, mostly used this metal for aesthetic purposes. The entire exterior housing is made from acid-washed copper 110.
The Sonderlon mic, by comparison, utilized the same alloy for its electronic values. Many of the electrical internal components are made from the same alloy!
1018 mild steel round bar wound up being the single most popular metal alloy for our winners. The Pisces VI submarine, Medieval One car, and Sonderlon microphone all used this. To some degree, this isn’t unexpected, as 1018 is one of the most popular and common metals in the entire world. Even though its mechanical properties aren’t particularly impressive, it still has great strengths. It is easily formed, machined, welded, and fabricated. 1018 can also be hardened without difficulty.
Medieval One also used another type of mild steel, specifically A513 DOM tubing. Short for “Drawn Over Mandrel” tubing, DOM is extremely popular in the automotive industry. The manufacturing process provides a strong, seamless, relatively light tube with a uniform grain structure. In particular, for projects where you need high strength steel tubes, DOM is an excellent choice.
Another popular metals choice for our project winners was Stainless steel. All five winners used some kind of stainless alloy. Also, the alloy chosen varied depending upon the project.
The Pisces VI uses a lot of 316 stainless. Given that the main benefit of the 316 alloy is the resistance to rust and water corrosion, this makes sense.
The Medieval One car, Sonderlon microphones, and the Medieval money chest all used 304 stainless. This is the most popular stainless alloy for a reason. 304 is a great middle of the road metal. It is stronger than many other stainless alloys, and has good corrosion resistance but not as good as 316. It’s reasonably easy to work with, and is cheaper than some of the more specialist alloys.
Lastly, the Cometarium used 303 stainless, which is an interesting alloy. It has physical properties similar to 304, but it is significantly easier to machine. In the Cometarium, this was used to make some of the extremely fine mechanical components. When you have to machine a stainless part that small, 303 is an excellent choice, and this project reflects that.