When the universe exploded into existence about 14 billion years ago, it took 380,000 years for things to cool enough to form the first atoms. Iron didn't appear on the scene until 150 million years later, forming at the center of a star and then being ejected into the universe in violent stellar explosions, some of which hit Earth.
Each element in our universe is defined by its atoms. These determine each of its properties, including its shape, color, electrical conductivity, melting point, strength, and ductility.
Metals are among the most malleable materials in the universe. But why are metals ductile? What is it about their atomic structure that makes them so easy to manipulate?
The answer lies in their electrons - those little electron-bearing particles that whiz around their atoms. Many metals have an atomic structure that shares valence electrons, which are electrons located around the outer shell of the atom that can easily form chemical bonds. When metals have these types of electrons (such as iron, aluminum, and copper), they are highly ductile when heated because the atoms can easily slide past each other2, allowing us to hammer them into useful shapes.
Since the Bronze Age, our species has used metals to make weapons, jewelry, coins, cars, trains, ships, boats, skyscrapers, televisions, railings, wrought iron gates, and more, solely because of the structure of certain metals of atomic energy.
Which metals are malleable?
There are 95 known metals in the universe, representing 78% of the elements in the periodic table, and not all of them are malleable.
The most commonly used malleable metals include
Iron is the original metal of the universe. It makes up most of Earth's outer and inner cores, making it the most common element on our planet. It also makes up about 0.005% of our bodies and is present in our blood, allowing our hearts to distribute oxygen to our organs.
The three types of malleable cast iron recognized by the foundry industry: black-centered malleable iron, white-centered malleable iron, and pearlite malleable iron, are made using different processing methods.
Cast iron is not pure iron, but an iron-carbon alloy with a carbon content of 2% or more. Cast iron is a popular material because of its low melting point, fluidity, castability, machinability, and resistance to deformation and wear4.
Aluminum is another common element on Earth, making up about 8% of the Earth's crust. The material is easily identified by its silvery white and shiny surface. Aluminum's incredible lightness and resistance to corrosion make it the material of choice for many applications, including aircraft, space shuttles, high-speed trains, building components, power lines, smartphones, laptops and more5.
Aluminum is a very ductile material, capable of stretching to 50% to 70% of its length before breaking. It is also highly ductile and has a low melting temperature of 660°C, making it easy to work with6.
Like iron and aluminum, copper is an abundant element in the earth's crust. The material is a good conductor of heat and electricity, making it a popular choice for electrical wiring. It is also commonly used in construction materials, marine hardware, coins, etc. It is the third most used metal in the world (after iron and aluminum).
Copper was the first metal to be worked by humans, and its first use was on the copper-headed axe head used by the 5,000-year-old ice man Otzi, found in the Otztal Alps on the border between Austria and Italy. Toxic levels of arsenic were found in Otzi's hair, suggesting that he was exposed to this element while smelting copper for his axe7.
Gold is the most malleable metal in the universe. If you gain a few kilos in your later years and your gold wedding band begins to restrict blood flow to your finger, the cost of resizing stays low due to the malleability of the material (but not too low due to its rarity). It is estimated that approximately 190,000 tons of gold have been mined, which together would form a cube 21.3 meters wide.
The malleability of gold is amazing. It can be stretched into a thread as thin as a single atom, and then stretched even more before breaking. One gram of gold can be beaten into one square meter sheets, and gold foil can be beaten as thin as translucent8.
Other common malleable metals include silver, lead and zinc, which are widely used in industry and commerce.
Ductility and Ductility
Ductility and ductility are two similar properties that are often confused. In metallurgy, a malleable material is one that can be easily formed by hammering, rolling or pressing. The material is considered ductile because it can be manipulated under compressive stress. In contrast, ductility is the ability of a material to be manipulated under tensile stress, i.e. how easily the material can be stretched. A material that can be easily stretched into a wire is considered ductile3.
What is the ductility of iron?
The annealing process of malleable cast iron causes it to form small irregularly shaped carbon particles. This gives the iron greater strength while allowing it to remain ductile. Malleable cast iron is easier to work with and is resistant to vibration.
What makes iron malleable?
Metals are ductile - they can be bent and shaped without breaking. This is because they are made up of layers of atoms that slide over each other when the metal is bent, hammered, or pressed.
Is iron ductile or malleable?
Gray cast iron is highly ductile and resistant to corrosion. However, it is brittle and difficult to machine because it is difficult to produce a smooth surface and can shorten tool life. Malleable cast iron has good resistance to vibration, ductility and machinability.
Is iron highly ductile?
Many metals that have high ductility also have high malleability... Examples of malleable metals are gold, iron, aluminum, copper, silver and lead. Gold and silver are very ductile. When a piece of hot iron is hammered, it takes the shape of a sheet.
Why is iron ductile and malleable?
Metals are described as being ductile (can be beaten into sheets) and malleable (can be drawn into wires). This is because atoms are able to roll into new positions with each other without breaking metallic bonds... In this case, the metal is said to be elastic.
Is metal brittle?
Metals are generally not brittle. Instead, they are ductile and malleable.
What is metal ductility?
Ductility is the ability of a material to be stretched or plastically deformed without fracturing. Thus, it indicates how "soft" or malleable the material is. The ductility of steel depends on the type and level of alloying elements present.
How do you distinguish between cast iron and malleable cast iron?
Malleable cast iron is easier to work with and is resistant to vibration. Cast iron contains about 2% carbon, which makes it stronger and more resistant to rust. However, it also makes machining more difficult, as it is difficult to obtain a smooth surface with the material.
What is the original name of iron?
The Latin name for iron is Fe, which is the origin of its atomic symbol Fe. The word iron comes from the Anglo-Saxon iren, and according to WebElements, the word iron probably comes from an earlier word meaning "holy metal" because it was used to make the swords used in the Crusades.
Is iron malleable?
Ductile iron (also known as ductile iron or nodular cast iron) is actually a group of iron rods that exhibit strength, flexibility, durability and elasticity due to their unique microstructure. Ductile iron usually contains more than 3% carbon; it can be bent, twisted or deformed without breaking.
Is black iron brittle?
Cast iron is harder, more brittle and less ductile than wrought iron. It cannot be bent, stretched or hammered into shape because it has a weak tensile strength, which means it will break before it can be bent or deformed. It does, however, have good compressive strength.
What are the disadvantages of cast iron?
Disadvantages of cast iron
It rusts very easily.
It has very poor tensile strength.
Its parts are sensitive to cross-section, due to the slow cooling of thick sections.
The failure of its parts is sudden and total and does not exhibit a yield point.
It has poor impact resistance.
It has poor machinability compared to steel.
What causes ductility?
Metallic bonds are highly ductile and are found mainly in metals; this leads to the common belief that metals are usually ductile. In metallic bonds, valence shell electrons leave the domain and are shared between many atoms.
Which best describes bonding in iron?
Bonding in iron is metallic bonding.
Can malleable cast iron be welded?
Malleable cast iron cannot be successfully fusion welded and retain its unique properties; in other words, you can weld malleable cast iron just as easily as you can gray cast iron, but you will convert some malleable cast iron castings to gray cast iron castings during the welding process.
What are the applications for malleable cast iron?
Uses include electrical fittings, hand tools, pipe fittings, gaskets, brackets, fence fittings, power line hardware, agricultural equipment, mining hardware, and machine parts. Prior to the widespread use of malleable cast iron in everyday items, heavy duty bench vices were made from cast steel.
Who discovered iron?
The first person to explain the various types of iron was René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur, who wrote a book on the subject in 1722. This explains how steel, cooked iron and cast iron are distinguished by the amount of charcoal (carbon) they contain.
Who discovered iron 59?
Seaborg produced iron 59 (Fe-59) in 1937.59 Iron can be used to study hemoglobin in human blood. iodine-131 (I-131) was discovered by Livingood and Seaborg in 1938.
Is iron a material from the earth?
Iron is made in the interiors of stars, especially red supergiants. These elements form inside the stars during the fusion process. When supernovae occur, iron fragments are blasted into space. This is how iron came to Earth millions of years ago.
Can black iron tubing be welded?
Black iron tubing is only low carbon steel and therefore can be welded to most grades of steel.
Are black fittings cast iron?
You can weld black "iron" pipe because it is made of low carbon steel, not iron. Black steel pipe can be welded using any welding method used for steel... But black pipe fittings are made of malleable black iron.
How strong is malleable iron?
Malleable iron fittings are the lighter fittings for 150# and 300# pressure ratings. They are suitable for light industrial and plumbing use at pressures up to 300 psi.
Is steel ductile or brittle?
Harder, stronger metals tend to be more brittle. The relationship between strength and hardness is a good way to predict behavior. Mild steel (AISI 1020) is soft and ductile; bearing steel, on the other hand, is strong but very brittle.
What is the least ductile metal?
Ductility is being hammered into sheets, while ductility is being extended into thin wires. Gold is the most ductile and malleable metal. Nickel has the lowest ductility.
Which metal is the best conductor of electricity?
"Silver is the best conductor of electricity because it contains more moveable atoms (free electrons). For a material to be a good conductor, the current passing through it must be able to move electrons; the more free electrons in a metal, the greater its electrical conductivity.