Today, in almost every field, metal is a compulsory material. The metals are used in various industries like electronics, medicine, building construction, jewellery and clothing, machinery and automobiles, farming, cooking, furniture, security systems, and more. The use of metals and the advancement of human civilization have gone hand in hand – and throughout the ages, each metal has proved its worth based on its properties and applications. Matching the right metal requirement is critical to the success of the application.
Metals are solid materials that are typically hard, shiny, opaque, ductile, lustrous elements that are good conductors of heat and electricity. They are strong but malleable, which means that they can be easily bent or shaped. But not all metal is equal, which makes their uses as varied as their individual properties and benefits. While 91 of the 118 elements of the periodic table are considered to be metals, only a few of them stand out as the strongest. None of the metals are as hard as diamond or as tough as graphene, but these carbon lattice structures are not metals.
The strength of a metal depends on four properties:
- Tensile strength: Tensile strength is the material’s ability to resist tension. It’s the amount of strength required to pull or stretch the metal apart.
- Compressive strength: This is the metal’s ability to withstand being squeezed or compressed. Compressive strength is tested using external forces that place pressure on the material.
- Yield strength: Yield strength refers to the metal’s ability to withstand permanent deformation or bending. It’s the elastic limit of any given material, including metals.
- Impact strength: Impact strength determines how much energy a metal can absorb through impact without shattering or fracturing.
Here are the top 10 strongest metals in the world.
Tungsten, which is Swedish for “heavy stone,” is the strongest metal in the world. It was identified as a new element in 1781. Some of the common uses of tungsten include:
- Making bullets and missiles.
- Metal evaporation work.
- Manufacturing of paints.
- Creating electron and television tubes.
- Making glass to metal seals.
Steel is the second strongest and the most widely used metal in the world. It’s an alloy of iron and carbon and contains small amounts of manganese, sulfur, oxygen, phosphorus and silicon. It’s considered an essential metal in engineering and construction and one of the most recycled metals. Some of the common uses of steel include:
- Construction of roads, railways, other infrastructure, appliances, and buildings.
- Construction of stadiums, skyscrapers, bridges, and airports.
- Reinforcing concrete structures.
Chromium is a hard, lustrous, steel-gray metal often featured as an alloy in making stainless steel. Chromium is a crucial dietary supplement often contained in organ meats, wheat germ, mushrooms, and broccoli. Some of the common uses of chromium include:
- Manufacturing of stainless steel.
- Plating on automobiles.
Titanium was discovered in 1790 and has five naturally occurring stable isotopes. Despite being a poor conductor of electricity, titanium has a resistance to corrosion and a high strength-to-weight ratio. Some of the common uses of titanium include:
- In the aerospace market (SR-71 “Blackbird” warplane was the first aircraft to use titanium).
- In art and architecture.
- In medical devices.
- In various everyday products.
Iron is the sixth most common element in the universe and the most abundant element in the planet’s total composition. Iron is also present in the red blood cells and acts as a micro-nutrient in plants. Some of the common uses of iron include:
- Manufacturing of steel and steel alloys like carbon steel.
- Making of bridges, electricity pylons, bicycle chains, cutting tools, and rifle barrels.
Vanadium is classified as a transitional metal and named after an old Norse goddess. Most of the vanadium is alloyed with iron to make shock and corrosion-resistant steel additives. Some of the common uses of vanadium include:
- Manufacturing automobile components like the piston.
- Refining uranium for nuclear purposes.
Lutetium is one of the most expensive rare earth metals that is never found on Earth in a pure state. It’s named after Lutetia, the ancient name for Paris and was discovered in 1907. Some of the common uses of lutetium include:
- As a catalyst in hydrogenation, cracking, alkylation and polymerization.
- Lutetium-177-dotatate is used as a form of cancer treatment.
- Radiometric dating of meteorites.
- Lutetium oxyorthosilicate is used in PET (Positron Emission Tomography) detectors.
Zirconium is a transitional metal with a greyish white color that was discovered in 1789. It’s extremely strong, ductile, and malleable. Some of the common uses of zirconium include:
- In power nuclear stations.
- In the chemical industry.
- In cosmetics, antiperspirants, and food packaging.
- Making microwave filters.
Osmium was discovered in 1804 and the name was derived from the Greek word ‘osme’ which means smell. It’s found in nature as a pure substance or within the mineral osmiridium. Some of the common uses of osmium include:
- Added to platinum and indium to make them harder.
- Used to make specialized laboratory equipment.
- Sometimes used as a catalyst.
Tantalum was discovered in 1802 and is part of the refractory metal group. Some of the common uses of tantalum include:
- Used as an alloy due to its high melting point and anti-corrosive properties.
- In medical implants and coating of implants.
- Making special glass with a high index of refraction for items such as camera lenses.