What’s the Strongest Metal for your Project?
If your customer requests the “strongest metal” for an upcoming job, how do you know what that is? What IS the strongest metal available? What sounds like a fairly simple question yields a series of complex answers.
There are actually a few different scales for strength when it comes to metal, and different metals come out ahead in each of these different categories.
This is a measure of a metal’s resistance to being stretched or pulled. It measures a material’s ability to resist tension caused by applied mechanical loads. In fact, for the purpose of construction projects, tensile strength is an important and widely-measured property of metal materials.
Some metals that rank high with tensile strength include tungsten and steel alloys that contain chromium, molybdenum, nickel, manganese, and silicon.
This measures a metal’s ability to withstand compression. To determine a metal’s compressive strength, force is placed on the material. The degree to which it can withstand compression before it undergoes size reduction or deformation determines its compressive strength. In general, metals with a high melting point tend to rank higher in compressive strength than metals with lower melting points. A widely-accepted method of testing a metal’s hardness is the Mohs Hardness Test, which determines scratch resistance.
If you need a metal with high compressive strength, you’ll be wise to choose steel, titanium, and tungsten.
This is a measure of a metal’s ability to withstand bending or deformation without breaking or being permanently changed. Yield strength is important to determine, as it can help predict a metal’s behavior under a variety of stress conditions. This is usually determined via a bend test, where both ends of a bar or beam are gripped, and the material is bent or stressed. Metals with high yield strength are helpful in situations where the material must undergo large amounts of deformation, such as in bridges or buildings.
Metals with high yield strength include steel, titanium, nickel-based alloys, aluminum alloys, and tungsten.
A material’s ability to absorb energy and not break when subjected to a sudden force or impact is determined by its impact strength. During an impact strength test, the amount of energy absorbed by the metal sample upon impact is measured and used to determine overall impact strength.
Metals with high yield strength usually also have high impact strength, and these include steel, aluminum, and copper.