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.

Today’s visualization from Viking Steel Structures outlines the 10 strongest metals on Earth and their applications.

What are Metals?

Metals are solid materials that are typically hard, shiny, malleable, and ductile, with good electrical and thermal conductivity. But not all metal is equal, which makes their uses as varied as their individual properties and benefits.

The periodic table below presents a simple view of the relationship between metals, nonmetals, and metalloids, which you can easily identify by color.

The Periodic Table

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.

What Makes a Metal Strong?

The strength of a metal depends on four properties:

  1. Tensile Strength: How well a metal resists being pulled apart
  2. Compressive Strength: How well a material resists being squashed together
  3. Yield Strength: How well a rod or beam of a particular metal resists bending and permanent damage
  4. Impact Strength: The ability to resist shattering upon impact with another object or surface

Here are the top 10 metals based on these properties.

The Top 10 Strongest Metals

Rank Type of Metal Example Use Atomic Weight Melting Point
#1 Tungsten Making bullets and missiles 183.84 u 3422°C / 6192 °F
#2 Steel Construction of railroads, roads, other infrastructure and appliances n/a 1371°C / 2500°F
#3 Chromium Manufacturing stainless steel 51.96 u 1907°C / 3465°F,
#4 Titanium In the aerospace Industry, as a lightweight material with strength 47.87 u 1668°C / 3032°F
#5 Iron Used to make bridges, electricity, pylons, bicycle chains, cutting tools and rifle barrels 55.85 u 1536°C / 2800°F
#6 Vanadium 80% of vanadium is alloyed with iron to make steel shock and corrosion resistance 50.942 u 1910°C / 3470°F
#7 Lutetium Used as catalysts in petroleum production. 174.96 u 1663 °C / 3025°F
#8 Zirconium Used in nuclear power stations. 91.22 u 1850°C / 3.362°F
#9 Osmium Added to platinum or indium to make them harder. 190.2 u 3000°C / 5,400°F
#10 Tantalum Used as an alloy due to its high melting point and anti-corrosion. 180.94 u 3,017°C / 5462°F

Out of the Forge and into Tech: Metals for the Future

While these metals help to forge the modern world, there is a new class of metals that are set to create a new future.

Rare Earth elements (REEs) are a group of metals do not rely on their strength, but instead their importance in applications in new technologies, including those used for green energy.

Metal Uses
Neodymium Magnets containing neodymium are used in green technologies such as the manufacture of wind turbines and hybrid cars.
Lanthanum Used in catalytic converters in cars, enabling them to run at high temperatures
Cerium This element is used in camera and telescope lenses.
Praseodymium Used to create strong metals for use in aircraft engines.
Gadolinium Used in X-ray and MRI scanning systems, and also in television screens.
Yttrium, terbium, europium Making televisions and computer screens and other devices that have visual displays.

If the world is going to move towards a more sustainable and efficient future, metals—both tough and smart—are going to be critical. Each one will serve a particular purpose to build the infrastructure and technology for the next generation.

Our ability to deploy technology with the right materials will test the world’s mettle to meet the challenges of tomorrow—so choose wisely.

First published on the Visual Capitalist. Link to the original article.

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