What Are the Strongest & Hardest Metals Known to Mankind?

Updated on August 2, 2018
Jo Kenyon profile image

Anyone can Google to find a quick answer. But sometimes, the simplest answer isn't the smartest. JK enjoys big questions and interrogations.

Which Metal Is the Strongest?

You're probably looking for a simple numbered list of strong metals here, rated from strongest to weakest. Unfortunately, you're not going to get an answer so easily. First, we need to determine what kind of strength we're talking about.

When it comes to metals, strength can be defined in four different ways.

Four Different Types of Strength

Strength Type
Description
Compressive Strength
A material's capacity to withstand compaction or size reduction, or how much resistance it has to being squeezed together.
Tensile Strength
How strongly a material resists tension or a measure of how much strength it takes to stretch it or pull it apart.
Yield Strength
How well a material resists deformation or how much strength it takes to bend it.
Impact Strength
A material's ability to resist sudden force or impact without breaking or shattering.

What Is the Strongest Metal in the World?

Steel and alloys top the list for overall strength. Steels, alloys of iron, and other metals are much harder than any one type alone. The following are the strongest metals in the world:

  • Carbon Steels have a carbon content up to 2.1 percent by weight, a yield strength of 260 megapascals (MPa), and a tensile strength of 580 MPa. They score about 6 on the Mohs scale and are extremely impact-resistant.
  • Maraging Steels are made with 15-25 percent nickel and other elements (like cobalt, titanium, molybdenum, and aluminum) and a low carbon content. They have a yield strength of between 1400 and 2400 MPa.
  • Stainless Steel, with yield strength of up to 1,560 MPa and a tensile strength of up to 1,600 MPa, is made with a minimum of 11 percent chromium and often combined with nickel to resist corrosion.
  • Tool steels (used to make tools) are alloyed with cobalt and tungsten.
  • Inconel (a superalloy of austenite, nickel, and chromium) can endure extreme conditions and high temperatures.

What Is an Alloy?

Alloys are combinations of metals that produce an even stronger material.

What Is the Strongest Non-Alloy Metal in the World?

While the aforementioned alloys can be considered the strongest metals in the world, the following metals are the strongest pure, non-alloy, metals:

  • Tungsten has the highest tensile strength of any natural metal, but it's brittle and tends to shatter on impact.
  • Titanium has a tensile strength of 63,000 PSI. Its tensile-strength-to-density ratio is higher than any natural metal, even tungsten, but it scores lower on the Mohs scale of hardness. It is also extraordinarily resistant to corrosion.
  • Chromium, on the Mohs scale for hardness, is the hardest metal around. It scores 9.0, but it's extremely brittle. So unless it's combined with other metals, it isn't very useful if you need yield and tensile strength.

How Is Hardness Measured?

The Mohs scale of mineral hardness, created in 1812 by German geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Mohs, is used to rate a mineral's scratch resistance. The method of comparing hardness by seeing which minerals can visibly scratch others is, however, of great antiquity. While greatly facilitating the identification of minerals in the field, the Mohs scale does not show how well hard materials perform in an industrial setting. Despite its lack of precision, the Mohs scale is highly relevant for field geologists who use the scale to roughly identify minerals using scratch kits.

The Vickers Hardness Scale

The Vickers hardness test was developed in 1921 by Robert L. Smith and George E. Sandland at Vickers Ltd as an alternative to the Brinell method to measure the hardness of materials. The basic principle, as with all common measures of hardness, is to observe the questioned material's ability to resist plastic deformation from a standard source. The Vickers test can be used for all metals and has one of the widest scales among hardness tests. The unit of hardness given by the test is known as the Vickers Pyramid Number (HV) or Diamond Pyramid Hardness (DPH). The hardness number can be converted into units of pascals, but should not be confused with pressure, which uses the same units. The hardness number is determined by the load over the surface area of the indentation, and not the area normal to the force, and is therefore not pressure.

Titanium is a grey, light, but very strong metal.
Titanium is a grey, light, but very strong metal. | Source

What Type of Metal Is Stronger Than Titanium?

While titanium is one of the strongest pure metals, steel alloys are stronger. This is because a combination of metals is always stronger than a single metal. Carbon steel, for example, combines the strength of steel with the resilience of carbon. Alloys are essentially super metals.

What Is the Strongest and Lightest Metal in the World?

In 2015, Australian and Chinese researchers discovered a Magnesium alloy that is widely considered to be the strongest and lightest metal in the world. It is also highly resistant to corrosion, making it a useful material for vehicle manufacturing.

Recently, magnesium alloy has been used for creating the bodies of cell phones and DSLR cameras like the Nikon D800 and the Sony A7R.

Is Titanium Stronger Than a Diamond?

Titanium is not stronger than a diamond. In terms of hardness, Titanium is not harder than a diamond either.

Titanium strength is .434 GPa, or giga pascals. Diamond strength is around 60 GPa. As for the hardness scale, titanium is 36 Rockwell C, while diamond is 98.07 Rockwell C.

Although titanium has gained a reputation of being an extremely strong material, most steels are stronger. The only advantage titanium has over steel is that it is a much lighter material. When compared to diamond, however, titanium does not come close in strength or hardness.

What Is the Strongest Metal in the Universe?

The strongest known metal in the universe is steel alloy. Because steel alloy is so versatile, it can be crafted to meet nearly any requirement. Still, however it is crafted, the combination of steel with other strong metals makes it the strongest known metal in the universe.

As for hardness, chromium is the hardest known metal. While the hardest known mineral in the universe is diamond, the honor of the hardest metal goes to chromium. Chromium is used in the well-known alloy stainless steel to make it harder.

A wedding band from solid, unalloyed .999 rhodium.
A wedding band from solid, unalloyed .999 rhodium. | Source

What Is the Rarest Metal in the World?

The rarest metal in the world is rhodium. This metal is sourced mainly from South Africa, Russia, and Canada, and is used for its reflective properties. Other metals that are considered almost as rare as rhodium are listed below.

The 11 Rarest Metals in the World

Metal
Characteristics
Rhodium
Reflective, non-corrosive
Platinum
Malleable, non-corrosive
Gold
Durable, malleable
Ruthenium
Durable, hard
Iridium
High melting point, dense, non-corrosive
Osmium
Bluish-silver, dense, brittle
Palladium
Malleable, stable when heated
Rhenium
Extremely dense
Silver
Conductive, reflective
Indium
Reflective, malleable

What Is Stronger Than a Diamond?

According to PhysOrg.com article from 2009, a material called wurtzite boron nitride has a greater indentation strength than diamond. The scientists who made this discovery have also calculated that another material, lonsdaleite, is even stronger than wurtzite boron nitride and 58 percent stronger than a diamond. This discovery marked the first case where a material exceeded a diamond in strength under the same loading conditions.

The extreme strength of the two materials is due to their reaction to compression. Most materials undergo a structural transformation under pressure that makes them stronger. Lonsdaleite and wurtzite boron nitride have subtle differences in the directional arrangements of their structural bonds, making them stronger than diamonds under pressure.

Is Vibranium Stronger Than Titanium?

Because vibranium is the fictional metal that Captain America's shield is made of, it is most likely stronger than titanium. However, because we can not perform strength or hardness tests on a fictional material, all we can say is titanium is real and strong, and vibranium is an as yet undiscovered material, at least in this universe.

A36 Steel Tensile Test (Video)

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Jo Kenyon

    Comments

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      • profile image

        Ahsani 

        10 days ago

        Best answers on metal found so far. Thanks, dude.

      • profile image

        The Mechaneer 

        3 weeks ago

        So what's the most durable, least likely to deform, non metal?

        Oh, and is graphene or carbon nono tubing better for mecha type machinery?

      • profile image

        Tim 

        4 weeks ago

        What would be considered the best type of metal to use to make weapons with like swords for example

      • profile image

        Tim 

        4 weeks ago

        What would be considered the best type of metal to use to make weapons with like swords for example

      • profile image

        just curios 

        2 months ago

        so if i wanted to make armour that was bulletproof and shock resistant what is the metal i should use

      • profile image

        shitty guns 

        2 months ago

        need strongest metrals for the best guns. where can i find?

      • profile image

        Anonymous Johnymous 

        3 months ago

        Most of you guys would say that Wakandan Vibranium is the strongest known metal, when there is a metal known as Supermanium. And the name says itself, it can only be forged and made by only Superman. Vibranium is pretty weak when it comes to oxidation and forging. Supermanium can handle temperatures almost as hot as the sun's core, Y'all are weak.

      • profile image

        Logan 

        3 months ago

        I need more adamantium.where can find?

      • profile image

        smart guy 

        3 months ago

        anyone know where to get vibranium

      • profile image

        Mike 

        3 months ago

        How about Neutronium, accessible only from the core of a collapsed neutron star

      • profile image

        Knowledgeable Guy 

        3 months ago

        Using my own knowledge of comic books, I'd suggest using wakandan vibranium if you wish to make the metal out of something that can be found on Earth. Although if you're looking for stronger metals, then I'd suggest using the holy metal of Uru which can be only be found in the deepest mining forges of Asgard. Uru being the strongest metal in the existing universe, but then again Thanos' gauntlet is actually made from Uru anyway so it would technically be impossible to make a gauntlet more powerful than that.

      • profile image

        red power ranger 

        3 months ago

        hi dad

      • profile image

        power ranger 

        3 months ago

        hello

      • profile image

        Thanos 

        4 months ago

        @Nathan, I am also looking for metals to use to make a gauntlet. Let me know what you find out.

      • profile image

        Quan 

        4 months ago

        Im loking at metlas for my year 3 aiiigment about metals

        please help if you now anything about metals

      • profile image

        steve 

        4 months ago

        make a pen that turns into a shield

      • profile image

        Juan 

        5 months ago

        I bet at least 80% of the people making this inquiry, were thinking in Adamantium or Vibranium.

      • profile image

        Corey 

        5 months ago

        @Nathan I would suggest basalt fiber for a temperature resistant gauntlet. It has the tensile strength of S-Glass fiberglass, is made of stone, is fireproof, and doesn't melt until 2400F

      • profile image

        Nathan 

        5 months ago

        I'm trying to find metals that I could use to make a gauntlet that are extremely strong, and also incredibly resistant to extreme temperatures and drastic temperature changes. Any ideas?

      • profile image

        Poust 

        7 months ago

        Merry happy dreams sweetheart

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