Long ago, I asked for a kind of steel alloy under an alternative recipe. Right now, the list is as follows:

  • Carbon (2%) (Reasonable material and amount)
  • Chromium (12%) (Reasonable material and amount)
  • Titanium (6%) (Reasonable material, but is the amount reasonable?)
  • Iron (>75%)

The one proposed material, the focus of this question, is glass making up 2 to 3% of the alloy's amount. Is it really feasible to put shards of glass in a molten metal foundry or ladle? What good will glass do to an alloy, if any?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ glass do not forms solution with metal, one of reasons, why we have flat windows, Float glass $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Jul 31, 2016 at 4:41
  • $\begingroup$ This feels like more of a question for Chemistry.SE? $\endgroup$
    – barney
    Oct 28, 2016 at 2:56
  • $\begingroup$ @barney Something tells me that Chemistry won't allow speculative scenarios. $\endgroup$ Oct 28, 2016 at 2:59
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    $\begingroup$ most steel contains some silica (glass) it has many effects depending on amount and what you want the steel to do. you can read more here. pmpaspeakingofprecision.com/2010/10/19/… $\endgroup$
    – John
    Nov 20, 2016 at 20:28
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    $\begingroup$ I assume you mean silica glass, glass is a state not a material. Metal glasses exist. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jan 23, 2018 at 5:43

6 Answers 6


If you mean glass mixed with steel when both are liquid, it would be hard. It would look a bit like mixing water with oil, you just are not going to get uniform solution, best you can get is little bubbles. See float method of manufacturing glass.

Bubbles would have several effects

  1. Discontinuities in steel lowers its strength
  2. Different thermal expansion would make this crack during manufacturing
  3. Welding, grinding and heat treatment would be significantly harder
  4. Would dull drills

That said, there are two examples of "mixing" metal with silica / glass to good effect:

  1. Iron-silicon relay steel used for transformer cores
  2. Gorilla glass — not iron at all, but potassium. It turns out that by using potassium salts, you can get potassium into glass. Actually, this also happen in a float method. This paper describes it in greater detail, and also mentions iron, but I admit it's too complicated for me. Anyway, this creates glass with a bit of metal, not the other way around.

The main element in glass is silicon, and there are some alloys of steel with a small percentage of silicon added, but this isn't glass.


Steel is essentially iron and carbon alloyed with certain additional elements.

The process of alloying is used to change the chemical composition of steel and improve its properties over carbon steel or adjust them to meet the requirements of a particular application.

Benefits of Steel Alloying Agents:

Different alloying elements each have their own affect on the properties of steel. Some of the properties that can be improved through alloying include:

Stabilizing austenite: Elements such as nickel, manganese, cobalt and copper increase the temperatures range in which austenite exists.

Stabilizing ferrite: Chromium, tungsten, molybdenum, vanadium, aluminum and silicon can have the effect of lowering carbon's solubility in austenite. This results in an increase in the amount of carbides in the steel and decreases the temperature range in which austenite exists.

Carbide forming: Many minor metals, including chromium, tungsten, molybdenum, titanium, niobium, tantalum and zirconium, form strong carbides that - in steel - increase hardness and strength. Such steels are often used to make high speed steel and hot work tool steel.

By quenching molten metals rapidly before they can crystallize and develop the regular atomic arrays which characterize metals, you create a "Metallic glass", which has different physical properties than conventionally formed metals.


Amorphous metals have higher tensile yield strengths and higher elastic strain limits than polycrystalline metal alloys, but their ductilities and fatigue strengths are lower.[12] Amorphous alloys have a variety of potentially useful properties. In particular, they tend to be stronger than crystalline alloys of similar chemical composition, and they can sustain larger reversible ("elastic") deformations than crystalline alloys. Amorphous metals derive their strength directly from their non-crystalline structure, which does not have any of the defects (such as dislocations) that limit the strength of crystalline alloys. One modern amorphous metal, known as Vitreloy, has a tensile strength that is almost twice that of high-grade titanium. However, metallic glasses at room temperature are not ductile and tend to fail suddenly when loaded in tension, which limits the material applicability in reliability-critical applications, as the impending failure is not evident. Therefore, there is considerable interest in producing metal matrix composites consisting of a metallic glass matrix containing dendritic particles or fibers of a ductile crystalline metal.

  • $\begingroup$ Which of these benefits would best be used for making a skyscraper's skeleton? $\endgroup$ Jul 31, 2016 at 4:58
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    $\begingroup$ None. Amorphous metals are strong in tension, not compression. $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Jul 31, 2016 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ I meant the steel alloying benefits. $\endgroup$ Jul 31, 2016 at 20:00

Best guess: It'd make the steel brittle, much like carbon does.

The whole reason metals are ductile and flexible is that the layers of atoms can slide over and between each other. This is possible because of the metallic bonds, which basically consist of positively charged ions in a cloud of communal electrons. Non-metals like silicon don't do that; different sized metal atoms do behave like that, but the size differences cause snarls, which limit movement. Alloys are therefore stiffer but more brittle than pure metals; alloys with non-metals, even more so as the non-metal doesn't share its electrons with the group, but rather tries to pull electrons from the common shares to complete its outer shell.

Now, glass is a supercooled liquid, composed primarily of silicon dioxide. SiO2, itself is fairly stable, with melting point of around 1600C, which is similar to that of iron. Your alloy looks like stainless steel, melting at ~1300C This means your glass will not mix smoothly with with your steel, resulting in clumps of glass bordered by iron silicate. Anything made with this will fracture in the glass layers, when stressed. The material will be hard as described above, but brittle as glass. There does not seem to be any use for iron silicates except as a source or iron when heated.

If you're thinking of using the glass to protect the iron, as I suspect (your combination suggests you're trying to make a new kind of oxidation resistant steel), you might be better off coating the finished product with a silicate, e.g., water glass mixed with calcium oxide to form calcium silicate.

P.S., Carbon concentration in steel should be 1% or less. See also Stainless Steel

  • $\begingroup$ " Carbon concentration in steel should be 1% or less" Why? Bohler K110 has 1.55% and it is one of best knife steels available. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Sep 7, 2016 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Mołot: We don't know what it's for, so we focus on general use. Knife blades are required to be hard, in order to be durable, not necessarily strong, as they won't be expected to support loads. $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    Sep 8, 2016 at 6:20
  • $\begingroup$ Glass to protect the iron: that is commonplace, with cookware, bathtubs, etc. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Nov 20, 2016 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ @JDługosz: Overlaid, not smelted into the metal $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    Nov 21, 2016 at 9:20

we already have metal-ceramics,today i've read about plastic-copper alloy(exactly).

Steel is an alloy of iron and other elements

So it's not a metal to take part in other alloy as element. So this new alloy would be neither steel-smthing alloy nor new kind of steel(coz of silicon ,previous answer)


Typical forged iron actually has some silicon glass-like particles(several %) in it. They worsen mechanical strength, make it anisotropic, but improve rust durability a lot.


I watched some video involving making aeroplane sheets they were mixing aluminum with glass but glass was first melted to form elastic threads and thereafter weaved and added in molten form to aluminum in a furnace


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