What is the Toughest Metal in the World?

metal drill thumbnailThe search for the hardest metals and the strongest alloys has always been a part of the metal industry. Finding something that can beat everything before it has been the constant search for human industrial endeavours and this search for what is the toughest metal in the world is something that has driven research into technology as far as it has.

The results mainly depend on the kind of metal or alloy properties you are looking for. As a result, you will find a certain kind of metal being deemed as the strongest in certain conditions, while another gets the vote in other situations. Alloys are always stronger than pure metals because alloys are the result of years of experimentation, looking for a particular combination that makes the metal stronger and tougher than it is in its pure format.

Factors of Measurement

Rating of metals and the process of finding the toughest metal on the planet isn’t just about hardness or strength on one condition, it is based on several different situations and different pressures which the metal is placed under. These situations and experiences help determine the standards and most of them are based on the yield strength of the metal.

The yield strength is nothing but the degree to which you can apply pressure onto a metal before it’s molecular structure breaks. When the molecular structure of a body is intact, it will retain its shape. Under pressure, these molecules are forced to move out of their regular structure but due to a certain degree of strength and elasticity, they don’t break or deform.

After the threshold has been reached, the metal will remain bent permanently and will not be able to regain the kind of strength it had earlier. Tensile strength is the other factor that is used to judge how strong a metal is. This is basically a measure of the amount of pulling force that can be applied to a body without breaking it.

Here’s a list of some metals that are, generally, considered to be amongst the toughest metals on the planet.

Tungsten Carbide

According to many research institutes, Tungsten Carbide is the strongest metal alloy on the planet. Normally used in jewellery or military equipment, Tungsten Carbide is not used very widely and as a result, isn’t as popular as some of the other metals on this list. However, it is rated to be the hardest metal in a particular range of standard test conditions, which is good enough for it to get onto this list.

Carbon Steel

Steel is already an alloy while carbon steel is a lot harder and is probably the hardest metal on the planet – as hard as Tungsten Carbide even. The reason for Tungsten Carbide being less popular and carbon steel being more popular has more to do with the usage. Carbon steel is used all over the world, in a variety of heavy duty jobs that lend it more credibility in terms of being a strong or tough metal and, maybe, better than all else.

Hardened Steel

Another form of treated steel alloy that allows the metal to become harder than its normal rating, hardened steel is all about using different temperature settings on regular steel and “tempering” it. This creates a more flexible form of steel, one that can even bend without breaking.

The Also-Ran’s

Rating of metals is used to determine the average strength or weakness of metals and the Mohs scale is considered as the global standards for these ratings. Iron pyrite comes in at about 6.5 on the measurement scale while Titanium is about 6. Rhodium and Chromium are also placed at 6 while Palladium is about a 4.75 on the scale.

Each metal has its own rating in terms of yield and tensile strength and that will also depend on the quality of creating that alloy. In the end, it all comes down to how well we combine these metals and their alloys and that has the final say in what will end up being the strongest or toughest metal of them all.

George Staton – author

George has spent over 30-years working various jobs in the metal industry, working everything from fabrication to mining ore. He has put all his experience to good use today, working as a consultant for many firms like world leaders Midway Metals. He has also been instrumental in the ongoing research going on to find out what is the toughest metal in the world.

Click here to find out more about the amazing element – Titanium.

2 comments
David Gill
David Gill

Isn’t toughness a measure of how much energy a material will absorb until ultimate failure? With the most common method to test this being the Charpy impact test. Hard materials like tungsten carbide and high hardness steel do not do well in this test. Softer shock grade tool steels like S7 and spring steels like 5160 score high in this test. I think you are confusing people by focusing on hardness when toughness is a quantifiable property of a metal. Your article implies that hardness is a measure of toughness when in fact the past a certain point the toughness of a metal goes down as the hardness goes up. Also the Mohs scale is not used for metals the Rockwell C scale is the standard for steels.

Kevin Robert Baker
Kevin Robert Baker

Interesting. Especially the facts about how metals are rated for toughness.