Exploring Ductility

What is Ductility?

With any type of metalworking, it’s critically important to be able to measure the strength of the materials you’re working with. One of these measures is ductility and it’s important to understand as a concept.

Simply put, Ductility is a way of measuring a particular metal’s ability to undergo prolonged periods of tensile stress. In other words, how does it handle being pulled from two opposite ends with equal force? If a metal is ductile, that means it can handle this kind of work without losing its strength or becoming brittle. Obviously, we want the metals we work with to be as strong as possible in the widest variety of applications, so knowing which metals are ductile is valuable.

Examples of Ductile Metals

Copper is a great example of a metal that has a high degree of ductility. It can be stretched out into long, thin wires that not only retain their strength and durability but also can be used to conduct electricity. That’s why they were the backbone of our telephone system for about a hundred years and are still being used everywhere today.

Likewise, gold, platinum and silver are routinely drawn out into thin wires that still remain strong. Bracelets, necklaces and other forms of jewellery are common used of these precious metals. Gold in particular is noteworthy for its extreme ductility – a single ounce of the material can be shaped into a single 80 kilometre piece of wire.

Being able to stretch metal into long, thin wires is a fundamental part of engineering. Steel cables stay strong in any condition thanks to the ductile alloys that lay within, and make bridges, pulleys and other common construction projects possible.

Introducing Malleability

Malleability is the opposite of Ductility in many ways. It measures how well a metal can handle being compressed rather than stretched. Compression can come in many ways, but the most common methods are it being hammered, rolled or pressed. In other words, it’s where a force is being pushed towards the metal, rather than pulled away.

Look no further than lead for an example of a metal that is extremely malleable but hardly ductile. It can be pressed into any shape imaginable, but its crystal structure means that any test of its ductility will result in it breaking apart. Aluminium is another fine example – we’re all familiar with how easy it is to crush a soft drink can but it’s not a metal that can be extruded out into fine wire. However aluminium is very useful for food packaging.

It’s very useful for metals to be malleable. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to shape metals to make our vehicles, white goods or countless other day-to-day items that are based around crafted metal designs.

At ShapeCUT we’re very familiar with metals of all kinds and how they can be uniquely shaped to your exact demands. We have the tools and technology to cut metals of all shapes and sizes to whatever design you can imagine, so give the team at ShapeCUT a call today to discuss your plans.