Today we are looking at the 10 strongest metals in the world. For obvious reasons, it is important for scientists, designers, and engineers to be aware of the properties of the many elemental metals and their myriad alloys.
The strength of a metal or alloy is determined by a number of properties and when choosing a metal it is important that the one chosen has the correct properties for the application, such as CNC Machining. For instance, for overall strength, nothing beats steel. If you want hardness then Tungsten is the one to go for and a close contender to both steel and tungsten, with properties close to both is Titanium.
Of course, Diamond is harder, and Graphene is tougher but we are limiting our list to the 10 strongest metals in the world.
10 Strongest Metals in the World
- Carbon Steel
- Steel-iron-nickel Alloy
- Stainless Steel
- Tungsten Carbide
- Titanium Aluminide
- Magnesium Alloys
Properties of the 10 strongest metals in the world
When a material scientist speaks of ‘strength’ they are looking at a number of properties that define them as strong.
When we speak of tensile strength we are looking at the measurement of the force which would be required to pull something such as a cable, wire, rope, or a structural beam such as a girder to the point at which it breaks. The measurement is the maximum amount of stress before breaking, usually measured in pounds per square inch (PSI).
As an example, cookie dough has low tensile strength, and steel has high tensile strength.
This is a measure of how well the material resists being squeezed. In more basic terms it is the hardness of the material. This can also be measured in Psi. Another way to measure compressive strength is the use of the Mohs scale. On this scale of 0-10, 0 is the softest, and 10 is the hardest. Not surprisingly, diamonds are 10 on the scale. Compressive strength is an important property of tooling materials.
Yield strength refers to how well a beam made from a particular metal resists being bending and permanent deformation. This is a very important measurement for structural engineers. Metal will bend to a certain degree and this is the elastic state, a state when the metal will return to its original shape after being bent, a useful property of spring steels. Once the metal has reached the plastic state it has failed. This is measured in Mega Pascals (Mpa)
The ability of a material to resist impact without shattering. Going back to the diamond, it has a Mohs scale of 10 but can be shattered when struck with a hammer. Whereas steel can be struck with a hammer without shattering, the hammerhead itself is steel.
Alloys vs Natural Metals
So now that we’ve looked at the properties let’s list the 10 strongest metals in the world. But first, let’s be clear, most of these ‘metals’ are in fact not classed as metals. Alloys are combinations of metals, and the main reason for making alloys is to produce a stronger material – see diagram below.
The most important alloy is steel, which is a combination of iron and carbon and is much harder than either of its two elemental components. Metallurgists create alloys of most metals, even steel, and they belong on lists of the hardest metals. We’ll go ahead and call all these metals as they are still composed primarily of elemental metals.
1. Carbon Steel
This alloy of Iron and Carbon (hence the name) has been with us for centuries. It is also a very widely used metal and we could indeed be said to be in the steel age. Carbon steel scores highly for all four of the properties which define strength.
- It has a Yield Strength of 260 Mega Pascals
- Tensile Strength of 580 Moa
- Around 6 on the Mohs scale
- Is highly impact resistant
Steel can be up to 1000 times stronger than iron
2. Steel-Iron-Nickle Alloy
There are a few variations of this but in general mixing carbon steel with nickel increases the yield and tensile strength of this alloy to far above those of plain old carbon steel.
- It has a yield strength of 1,420 Mpa
- Tensile strength of 1,460 Mpa
Iron and nickel are the most abundant metals in metallic meteorites and in the dense metal cores of planets such as Earth.
3. Stainless Steel
This is a special alloy of steel, chromium, and manganese. This mixing produces a corrosion-resistant metal with amazing properties, for instance, 304 stainless steel. Its properties make it good for Turning and Milling. You can check out all the stainless steel alloys we stock here.
- Yield strength as much as 1,560 Mpa
- Tensile strength up to 1,600 Mpa
- Highly impact resistant
- Between 5.5 to 6.3 on the Mohs scale
If you have a chunk of stainless steel laying around, you can use it to de-stink your hands after chopping garlic and onions.
Known in the old days as Wolfram, this very special metal has the highest tensile strength of any naturally occurring metal. Not used often in its natural state as it is brittle and prone to shattering under the impact. That is why it is alloyed with other metals and alloys to create even stronger alloys.
- Tensile strength at 1,725 Mpa
- Yield strength at 750 Mpa
- Low impact resistance
- Rates 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness
Tungsten has the highest melting point of any of the metals at 6191.6 °F, to be exact.
5. Tungsten Carbide
As we explained above, tungsten is naturally very brittle, so it has to be alloyed with another material. Combining with Carbon produces Tungsten Carbide. The hardness of This material makes it ideal for use in tools with cutting edges, from common knives to circular saw blades to drill bits, and of course in the CNC machining industry.
- Yield strength between 300 to 1000 Mpa
- Tensile strength from 500 to 1,500 Mpa
- High impact resistance
- Hardest metal alloy, 9 to 9.5 on Mohs scale
The military uses tungsten to make bullets and missiles used in “kinetic bombardment.” This type of attack uses a super dense material to breach armor instead of explosives.
Often used in the aerospace industry due to being pound-for-pound, the strongest metal in the world. Pure titanium has a low yield strength of around 275 to 580 Mpa. It is therefore usually alloyed to produce stronger variations.
- Tensile strength of 980 Mpa
- Titanium alloys can have yield strength up to 1200 Mpa
- 6 on the Mohs hardness scale
Titanium is the only element that will burn in pure nitrogen gas, no oxygen required.
7. Titanium Aluminide
This specialized alloy is also known as Gamma Titanium Aluminide is composed of Titanium, Aluminum, and Vanadium. Titanium aluminide alloys offer superior high-temperature performance with low weight for turbine blades and are as strong as nickel-based alloys, but at only half the weight.
- Has tensile strength of 880 Mpa
- Yield strength of 800 Mpa
Replacing the titanium turbine blades of a jet engine with an exact replica in titanium aluminide increases the thrust ratio because the engine is able to run over 300°F hotter.
You may have never heard of this alloy but this superalloy is one of the 10 strongest metals in the world. A mixture of Austenite, Nickle, and Chromium. It is a specialized alloy that keeps its strength in extreme conditions such as high temperatures. This ability makes it ideal for high-speed turbines and nuclear reactor applications.
- Tensile strength of up to 1,103 Mpa
- Yield strength up to 758 Mpa
Inconel® is a registered trademark of Special Metals Corporation.
This shiny, super hard metal is too brittle to be used by itself for many applications. It is therefore alloyed with other metals to make it harder. In its natural state, it is the hardest metal there is. Ideal for electroplating.
- Tensile strength of around 418 Mpa
- Yield strength of 316 Mpa
- Rates 9 on the Mohs hardness scale
The weapons of the famous Terracotta Army of the Qin Dynasty in China were tipped with chromium deposits, which helped prevent tarnishing.
10. Magnesium Alloys
We left this particularly strong metal alloy for last. And for good reason, scientists are still experimenting with various magnesium alloys to create new alloys. This has already been termed the strongest and lightest metal there is. Lighter than Aluminum and stronger than titanium alloys. If the metal is used in cars it would automatically save 40% on fuel without any modification to the engine.
There are so many alloys being created that giving tensile or yield strength figures would be outdated within months. Just know this – pound-for-pound, there is nothing stronger.
Apple is reportedly working on its own magnesium alloy for use as the frame for their phones, laptops, and tablets.