Depending on the final purpose of a fabricated object, any number of different alloys may be used in crafting it. Different metals have different properties, affording the final creation different characteristics—such as hardness, tensile strength, resilience or inertness, among others.
Often, the desired trait in a fabricated item is strength, which facilitates the use of strong materials. While steel is an obvious choice for these fabrications, it’s far from the only one. There are several extremely high-strength alloys out there that can be put to work for their hardness properties. We’re going to take a look at 6 of them.
The Mohs and Vickers Scales of Hardness
Before we dive into the strongest alloys, we need to understand how they’re measured. Often, they’re benchmarked on the Mohs Scale of Hardness or the Vickers Scale of Hardness—two measures of material strength that utilize roughly the same standards.
These scales work by measuring resistance to deformation by a uniform source—such as the force needed to scratch the surface of an alloy or the pressure used to bend it. Results are put on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the strongest.
Another thing to consider before we name the strongest alloys is that strength has a few different meanings and measures. For example, an alloy can have general hardness or supreme tensile strength—two great characteristics, but very different in terms of importance. When we start talking about the strongest alloys, we’re talking about different facets of strength
The Strongest Metals
Without further explanation, here’s a look at 6 of the strongest alloys known to man and a little explanation about what makes them so desirable when strength is the number one desired trait in a fabricated item:
- Titanium: Pure titanium can’t be matched when it comes to tensile strength. However, in terms of general strength, steel alloys are actually stronger! The chief benefit of titanium is its low density, which equates to a much better strength-to-weight ratio.
- Chromium: Chromium tops the Mohs scale of hardness and is incredibly impervious to damage. That said, it’s known for being extremely brittle, which means pure chromium is almost never a good option. Usually, it’s blended into a steel alloy to lend its strength.
- Inconel: An alloy comprised primarily of nickel and chromium, Inconel is known to be extremely corrosion resistant. It also performs incredibly well at high temperatures, making it one of the stronger alloys under duress.
- Tungsten: Tungsten is very brittle all by itself, but when blended, it becomes one of the strongest alloys on earth. Tungsten’s tensile strength is unmatched and can withstand up to 500k psi at room temperature!
- Magnesium alloys: Magnesium alloys are incredibly lightweight and offer much-desired inertness. Relatively new, they’re still being explored and are limited to a few common niches right now.
- Steel alloys: Steel alloys are widespread and plentiful for a simple reason—they’re incredibly strong! Different alloys offer different properties, such as great tensile strength or hardness, depending on added elements.
There you have it: 6 of the strongest alloys known to man and what makes them special! The next time you’re approaching a fabrication process that requires a strong outcome, check what steel you’re using. Chances are, it falls into one of these categories.