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What are the Strongest Metals?
There are certain metals found throughout the world that display superior characteristics to standard alloy metals. These strong metals are often used for industrial applications that require the beneficial features only found in high-strength metals. This article will explore the types of high-strength metals and the fundamental differences that separate them.
Super Strength MetalsA metal’s strength can be categorized into several categories, including hardness, yield strength, and compressive strength. These metal strength measurement standards accurately gauge the overall strength of a metal. Metals commonly found in nature, such as chromium, tungsten, and titanium, display excellent strength characteristics; however, they cannot match the intensity of manufactured metals such as steel and Inconel alloys.
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High Strength Metal CharacteristicsSeveral factors affect the strength value of a metal. Characteristics such as tensile, yield, compressive, and impact strength comprise the total strength rate. These strength values provide important information regarding the overall intensity of the metal.
Yield StrengthYield strength refers to a metal’s ability to resist perpetual deformation or bending. Yield strength ultimately tests a material’s elastic limitations. The intent is to discover how much stress it requires to exceed the material’s yield point or when the material will not return to its original shape upon removal of the stress.
Compressive StrengthA widely accepted test for compressive strength is Mohs Hardness Test. The test relies on a scale that rates minerals from 1-10, or softest-hardest. To test a metal’s compressive strength, an external force places pressure upon the metal and then tracks to what degree the material can resist size reduction. Compressive strength tests measure a metal’s ability to withstand compression.
Impact StrengthAs the title of the strength test indicates, impact strength is a measure of the amount of force a metal can withstand without shattering or fracturing. Impact strength measures how much forceful energy a metal can absorb before it fails.
Tensile StrengthTensile strength is a direct measure of the force required to stretch or pull something apart. Tensile strength directly measures a material’s ability to resist tension. A material with low tensile strength would pull apart more quickly than a material with high tensile strength.
Metals that Provide Superior Strength FeaturesHigh-strength metals are incredibly reliable for many applications, whether they are found exclusively in nature or manufactured via laboratory design and manmade alloying processes. The following list of metals provides superior strength characteristics.
ChromiumChromium is a hard metal known for its silver, shiny, “polished” appearance. It has a high melting point and a stable crystalline structure. Both 304 and 316 grade stainless steels contain a minimum of 10% chromium by weight.
Chromium metal rates highest on the Mohs hardness scale, but it is brittle and must be mixed with other metals for greater tensile strength. The best example of a metal alloy that utilizes chromium for increased strength characteristics is stainless steel. Chromium is also used regularly in chrome plating.
- Harden steel
- Manufacture stainless steel
- Produce steel alloys
TungstenTungsten has the highest tensile strength of any pure metal – up to 500,000 psi at room temperature. It has the highest tensile strength even at temperatures over 1,500°C. Tungsten is so dense that it resists melting, even under extremely high heat. However, tungsten metal is brittle, making it less useable in its pure state.
- Drill bits
- Sharpening saws
- Arc-welding electrodes
- Heating elements
TitaniumPure titanium has a higher tensile strength than standard steel but is less dense, giving it a very high strength-to-weight ratio. However, steel alloys are more robust than pure titanium. Titanium also enhances corrosion resistance and is resistant to corrosion, rust, chemicals, and acids.
Titanium is extremely strong. It possesses an atomic number of 22, an atomic weight of 47.90, and a density between aluminum and stainless steel. It can alloy nearly every element except copper and aluminum, and it is most often used as an alloy in iron. It has a melting point of 3074 degrees Fahrenheit and a boiling point of 6395 degrees F.
InconelInconel is an alloy of nickel and chromium, with several other elements, such as molybdenum. Inconel comes in several different grades and is known for its high strength at high temperatures and corrosion resistance.
Inconel alloys include 600, 601, 625, 690, 718, 751, 903, and 939. These alloys contain varying amounts of nickel and chromium, resulting in metal alloys commonly used for high-profile applications, including aerospace, nuclear, and other high-temperature applications.
- Jet engine construction
- Aerospace liners
- Gas turbine parts
- Heat exchangers
- Heat shields
Steel AlloysSteel itself is an alloy of carbon and iron. Alloys of steel with additional elements added, such as carbon (tool) steel and stainless steel, can be crafted much more potent than standard steel. Each alloy is specifically designed to optimize different properties for different applications.
Tensile strength, corrosion resistance, hardness, impact resistance, yield strength, and other properties depend on the alloying elements chosen and the processes used.
Steel Alloy Applications
- Heating elements
- Construction equipment
Magnesium AlloysScientists continue to develop and test new alloys with even more excellent properties. In recent years, several university research groups have announced new types of magnesium alloys that exhibit exceptional strength, lighter weight, and high corrosion resistance. These new materials are already being used in smartphone and laptop cases, electric batteries, and medical implants.
Magnesium Alloy Applications
- Medical devices
- Automotive parts
- Aerospace components