DouglasofSix

Can gold be added to steel?

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Obviously this is an easy question for anyone who works with metal. However I am currently writing a book, as I mentioned in the introductions board, and had an idea that has to do with these two metals. I searched around through Google for a while, and Yahoo! Answers as well before I decided that a forum for blacksmiths would be the best place to ask these kind of questions. I'll list my questions line by line below, and thank you for all of your help!

Is it possible for gold to be folded into steel while it is being forged? Concerning this question, I'm thinking more along the lines of the gold being added in small amounts as opposed to equal quantities or large amounts.

How much gold would be needed to change the quality of the steel as opposed to just changing the color? I realize this is subjective to the amount of steel. Maybe just a percentage would be a good enough answer?

How exactly would the gold make its appearance in the steel? Would it blend for an overall color change, marble, speckle, blotch?

Would the appearance of the gold depend on how many times the steel was folded and twisted?

If it marbles or has any other kind of sporadic coloring, does that mean that the metal is weaker or stronger in those colored areas?

Would the steel become weaker, brittle, stronger, more flexible, temperature resistant?

Do 3-metal alloys exist?

Is this alloy ever used for mechanical objects? If not, would it be suitable for mechanics?

Ultimately, how would this alloy compare to iron or gunmetal?

Would it be able to withstand the mechanics, high-pressures, and other requirements of a firearm?

If you are not sure about any of the last few questions, please speculate but mention it as speculation so that I can decipher between fact and speculation. That can be just as useful to me as an actual answer!

Again, thank you for any and all answers!

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The melting point of gold is around 2000 *F while iron is around 2800 *F, so I don't think you could forge-weld it apart from a canister weld. I've seen some really nice-looking results from a canister weld followed by stock removal!

The solubility of gold in iron is pretty low, something about different atom sizes mucking up the lattice IIRC, and so if you went that route you'd get very low amounts in there.

I wouldn't use the alloy, and especially not the pattern "weld" type for anything that takes significant forces or needs to hold an edge.

And yes, 3-metal alloy exist- as a matter of fact, most steel has much more than 3 elements: http://en.wikipedia....E_steel_grades.

Hope this helped!


Edit:
Of course, this is in reality. If you're writing a fiction book, well, you get to make the laws of physics, right? ;)

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This isn't really an easy question, because I don't think anyone does what you're suggesting.

Ariel Salaverria makes mokume gane with copper and steel, like so: http://www.aescustomknives.com/popups10/sanmaimokumecutter1.htm

You very well might be able to do the same with gold; I don't know. It would be a very expensive proposition, and learning to do it (if it could be done) would require even more expensive experiments.

I would expect it to reduce the mechanical properties of the steel, not improve them. With modern steel, pattern welding is an aesthetic process. Nothing more.

You could probably get the same look with a considerably smaller investment by pattern welding, etching the steel deeply, gold plating it, then sanding the high spots back to steel.

By the way, pattern welding -- the folding process that you described -- is a solid state process, and the result isn't really an alloy. It's just a mixture of two or more different alloys; although carbon does migrate between the layers, most other elements don't do so to any significant degree. If you want to alloy different metals, you melt them together. If you were to mix molten gold and iron to make a gold-iron alloy, I don't know what the result would be. But I doubt gold in any reasonable proportion would be visible in the finished product.

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By the way, you need to tell us what era of firearms you're asking about. Modern firearms are made from very different materials than 17th century matchlocks.

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By the way, you need to tell us what era of firearms you're asking about. Modern firearms are made from very different materials than 17th century matchlocks.


Well, it's not so much the era that's important as it is the firearm. I'm talking about a good ol' revolver. Something like a Colt Python, or a S&W model 66. It's a full metal frame with no polymer!

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"Gunmetal" is a type of brass/bronze that hasn't been used in guns for hundreds of years. Modern firearms are made from what ever the manufacturer decides to use - there is no standard material. Alloys can contain any number of metals. Pattern welded materials can also have more that two metals.

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Many early weapons had 'inlay' the the smith would chisel a groove into the weapon then lay a wire(gold,silver,brass,etc.) into the groove, Then using a 'punch' beat the wire into the weapon. This incorporated the wire into the base metal without affection its properties much!
I hope this helps?
Ian

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Well, it's not so much the era that's important as it is the firearm. I'm talking about a good ol' revolver. Something like a Colt Python, or a S&W model 66. It's a full metal frame with no polymer!


Those are both modern .357s. You're looking at chamber pressures in excess of 30,000 psi. The tensile strength of even 10 karat gold is, according to them there Internets, around 19,000 psi. 4140 steel, which is an example of a steel commonly used in barrels, has a tensile strength of over 90,000 psi even in its softest, weakest state; quenched and tempered to a fairly low hardness (as steel goes) it's well over 100,000 psi. 4140 (and many similar steels) is suitable material for the purpose. Gold isn't.

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It isn't steel, but gold is used to make ruby red glass.

For the purposes of the novel, add the gold for what ever reason it is. You have what is called artistic license B)

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For the purposes of the novel, add the gold for what ever reason it is. You have what is called artistic license B)


BGD is right, of course. My answers assume that you're trying to keep your novel at least loosely tied to the real world. If not, then go for it!

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I am a goldsmith and have done what you are asking but I added iron to the gold, a small amount of iron will turn the gold blue but it is real brittle and not useable in any way. I alloyed the gold with 25% iron to make an 18k alloy I used about 5 grams of gold. The blob that was left was like a anodized blue black color I melted it in an electric furnace covered in flux in an oxygen free envioronment. I used to piece as an inlay on a pendant the stuff could be broken by hand it was very week. If you add aluminum to gold it turns purple and arsenic turns it red and copper makes it pink and nickle makes it white and pure silver makes green gold. You can add palladium to turn it white as well. I have done most of these colors with the exception of arsenic. When the melting points are far apart the alloy that is produced it week and usually not usable. Gold will act as a brazing material to steel just like brass or silver. At 1400 an ounce it is not somthing to play with anymore, I did alot of this stuff at 250 an ounce.

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As mentioned:

Mixing iron with gold can be used to colour the gold for jewelry work.

Trying to weld it into a billet is more of a brazing technique and the very different mechanical properties makes for a very weak billet!

Historically many weapons were *surface* decorated with gold by many types of processes: inlay, fire gilding---uses mercury!, toledo damascening, etc

I would not work gold into the strength needing parts of a gun unless I was trying to kill off/injure the person I was giving it to!

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Thank you everyone for your replies, I have a much better understand of what I'm dealing with now. Kpotter thank you as well, you specifically solved my issue. Since I posted this I keep trying to imagine a way for it to work, but I'm coming up with nothing. I like to stay as close to reality as I can with these kind of things. But it did get me thinking... Steel is made by adding carbon to iron, right? If carbon is added to another metal, like bronze, or copper, does it strengthen it the same way it strengthens iron?

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Jewelry artist Lola Brooks uses gold solder (which contains gold) to fasten her stainless steel pieces together. (It is popular for jewelry artists to challenge the material hierarchy these days.) http://lolabrooks.com/

See also: http://www.centercross.com/shop/damascustutorial.htm for melting metal into cable. Might work as a fictional firearm, though I surely won't be trying this for a real one.

Have you tried asking this question on any gunsmiths' forums?

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Funny a friend of mine left a Mokume book on my desk yesterday and I was checking out the compatibility of various metal in the chart it had. Gold and iron were listed as a possibility but as I recall it stated that workability was OK but bonding was a real pain. Mechanical properties were not discussed as this was for ornamental purposes---what about a gold outer layer cast around a steel core? Gold for whatever metaphysical reasons encasing the needed strong metal for the barrel.

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what an intriguing thread - what are you going to do with the information- are you writing fiction or making guns?

i have like some of the others mixed silver and gold in jewellery (although you cant hallmark mixed metal pieces in uk) i also have a very lovely sounding tibetan singing bowl that is supposedly made of 7 different metals including silver and gold (in small quantities i imagine?!)it is a beautiful soft golden color...

i work with a man who makes wonderful specialist stalking rifles and im always trying to talk him into a bit of precious metal on there ... he is not biting!

if its a book, i like the sound of it! :)

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Lil food for thought.............great thread btw.

Jim Binnion is one of the only folks I know mixing these metals......and LOTS more. Here's a link to his site:

http://www.xpmcorporation.com/

and specifically .....the metals he combines:

http://www.xpmcorporation.com/XPM_Materials.html

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beth,
I'm working on a book, though I do wish I had the ability to craft guns. I'm trying to figure out a realistic way to combine these metals, but I seem to be hitting an unfortunate dead end... I'm picky when it comes to certain subjects being fictional, and certain subjects sticking with reality. This is unfortunately one of them, haha.

ornamentalsmith,
Thank you, those links give me an idea of what a combination of the two could possibly look like.

I'm not so much looking for the combination of these two decoratively as I'm looking to combine them in a sort of... Symbolic manner? The importance of what the two look like is not nearly as important as how functional the metal would be. I ask what they would look like for descriptive purposes.

At this point I'm looking at decorative alternatives... If the metals capability to withstand high internal pressure is going to be compromised by gold, I might have to settle for ornamental purposes.

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Gold has been used in sights. Elmer Keith used gold bars on the front sight that were regulated for long ranges.

Gold grips, or incorporate the gold into the grips which would not be a stressed part.

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Use gold bullets?


Didn't Gustavus Adolphus (king of Sweden) use gold bullets? I seem to remember something about one of those crazy kings doing so...

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Actually you need to get in touch with this member, James Binnion, for all the information on Mokume-Gane http://www.mokume-gane.com/ He is very knowledgeable about it and other matchings of metals. Kevin Potter is correct about the Black Gold, it is as brittle as ice, I did some casting for fellow in the mid seventies that wanted a black gold ring, it was unworkable it was so brittle and when I did get one, the idiot dropped it a week later in the shower. What a waste of time! You can inlay, you can plate it onto but to alloy it is a total waste of time and gold. <_<

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I think you should ask Elves, they love a beautiful piece, and gold on a trashcan lid is not over the top for them. the Question is which ones? the hill elves? Elrod , and gang are on a boat trip to Ireland, The wood Elves are just too spooky, and the just plain Elves, while good bowmen in the defence of Gondor, are a quiet bunch, and dont tell secrets. Its just possible though, with divination, and a plate of water, you can get this answer you seek, you do have the SECRET sign dont you?

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