Metals can have many different qualities, and strength is an important one for several industries. Metal alloys, are often stronger than pure metals and there are different types of strength that vary in importance depending on what they are being used for.
Because they are fit for different purposes, we can cite several metals as being amongst the strongest. The first is steel, which is an alloy of iron and carbon. Steel is used to make everything from cutlery to skyscrapers and is one of the most common materials we use today. Steel is made by heating iron ore, in order to remove any impurities, and then adding carbon (although other elements may be used). There are different ways to test the strength. Tensile strength, for example, measures the amount of pulling stress that can be administered before the steel falls or breaks, this is usually achieved by pulling the steel in vices before it eventually snaps. Compressive strength, on the other hand, is tested by applying pressure to the steel until it breaks in order to determine the level of pressure it is able to withstand. Compressive strength is particularly important if the steel is to be used in construction.
Titanium, is a metal that is well noted for its high tensile strength to density ratio – the highest of any metallic element. It is often alloyed with other materials, including iron and aluminium, to produce strong and lightweight alloys that are popular for use in the aerospace industry. Two thirds of all titanium alloys produced are used in the manufacture of aircraft parts. Titanium also has an extraordinarily high resistance to corrosion making it ideal for use in propeller shafts.
Tungsten, one of the rarer metals to be found, is very hard and possesses the highest tensile strength of pure metals. It is very brittle and hard to work in its raw form, but if made very pure it is harder than most steels and can be made malleable enough to work. It can also be further enhanced when alloyed with steel. Tungsten is mostly used to produce hard materials, most commonly tungsten carbide. Tungsten carbide can be used to make Knives, drills and circular saws, and industries including construction and metalworking rely on tools made from tungsten carbide.