Science Behind Metallurgy

By: Mason Lonborg, Lindsey Shaw, Chisom U.

Stiffening a Paper Clip Using Metallurgy

What you need:

-Paper Clips

-Glass Ring/Blow Torch

-Cup of Water


What is it?

Metallurgy- The branch of science and technology concerned with the properties of metals and their production and purification.


-Take three paperclips

-Bend all three paper clips so that the paperclips make a hook shape to hold weight

-Leave one paper clip untouched and non-heated

-Heat another one of the paperclips until its orange, but let the paperclip cool on its own

-Heat the third paperclip until it is orange, but directly after dunk it into a glass of water

-You will notice the different properties to the paperclips

Carrying Out the Experiment

We hooked a cup with 7/4 cups of water, and the regular paperclip bent. We then hooked the 7/4 cups of water to the paperclip that had been through quenching, and it could easily carry the weight of the water. The paperclip that went through annealing only was so brittle it had no chance against the weight of the water.

How it works!

Metals form as crystals, meaning that their atoms form in repeating patterns.

Work Hardening: As you do more work on a metal, it becomes harder and more brittle.

Dislocations: Where the atoms in the crystal dont quiet meet line up properly.

Annealing: Is when you heat up the metal giving it a lot of energy. This allows any dislocations in the atoms pattern to move past each other.

Quenching: Iron has two different stable crystal structures and it switches between them at about 700 degrees Celsius. If you cool the metal slowly, there is plenty of time for the metal to change from one to the other, but if the metal is cooled very rapidly by dipping it in cold water, knows as quenching, the atoms don't have time to reorganize themselves and the metal will form a third structure called martensite. This is very hard and very brittle, which makes the paperclip very stiff. Quench hardening is a mechanical process in which steel and cast iron alloys are strengthened and hardened. These metals consist of ferrous metals and alloys. This is done by heating the material to a certain temperature, differing upon material, and then rapidly cooling the material. This produces a harder material by either surface hardening or through-hardening varying on the rate at which the material is cooled. The material is then often tempered to reduce the brittleness that may increase from the quench hardening process. Items that may be quenched include gears, shafts, and wear blocks.


The metallurgy preparation to form a stronger paperclip by rearranging its structure was proven true. The change in structure was a lot stronger than the original paperclip, and the one that went through only annealing.