Industrial Engineering

Understanding malleability

A material is said to be malleable if it is easy to roll or hammer a thin sheet out of it. In other words, the substance can deform under compressive force. A common test for malleability is if a substance can be rolled or blown into a thin sheet. Metals do not possess this property. Malleable metals can bend and twist into a variety of shapes when struck by a hammer, but non-malleable metals may shatter into pieces.

Examples of malleable metals include gold, iron, aluminum, copper, silver, and lead. Ductility and malleability are related because a solid material’s ductility refers to its capacity to distort when subjected to tensile force. Ductile material is one that can readily be stretched into a wire when pulled. Keep in mind that tugging causes tensile tension. Well, in this article, you will understand the malleability of metals as the answers to the following questions will be discussed:

  • What is malleability?
  • What are examples of malleable metals?
  • How does malleability work?
  • What is the difference between malleability and ductility?
  • Malleability vs hardness



Read more: Understanding the flexibility of a material


What is malleability?

Just as earlier stated, the ability of a metal to deform under compression is referred to as malleability. Metals have a physical quality that allows for the shaping, rolling, and hammering of very thin sheets without the metal rupturing. A fabric that is malleable can be rolled or blown into shape. In another word, Malleability, or a metal’s capacity to bend and take on a new shape when compressed, is the tendency of metals to be hammered, crushed, or rolled into thin sheets without breaking. A metal’s malleability is determined by the amount of pressure (compressive stress) it can withstand without breaking. Different metals’ crystal structures result in variances in malleability.

Malleable materials can be used to create metal leaves. A popular kind of metal leaf is gold leaf. Numerous metals with high ductility also have high malleability. For instance, lead has a high malleability but poor ductility. Matter, especially metals, has the physical property of malleability. On the modern periodic table of elements, family groups 1 through 12 are typically affected by the characteristic.

Metal malleability is crucial for the appliance and automotive sectors. This characteristic facilitates the production of flat and curved metal products as well as appliances like stoves, microwaves, and refrigerators.

Read more: Understanding the hardness of a material

What are examples of malleable metals?

Gold, silver, iron, aluminum, copper, tin, indium, lead, electrum, steel, sodium, calcium, and lithium are a few examples of malleable metals. These metals can be used to make malleable materials like gold leaf, lithium foil, and indium shot. Although metalloids can create malleable alloys, they are not malleable as pure elements.

Metals like gold and silver are both incredibly malleable. A hot iron piece takes on the shape of a sheet when it is hammered. Metals do not possess this property. Non-malleable metals have a chance of breaking when struck by a hammer. Metals that are malleable can be bent and twisted into many different forms. Between 100 and 200 degrees Celsius, zinc is flexible; at higher temperatures, it becomes brittle.

In general, nonmetallic materials are not malleable. There are a few exceptions, though. There are several allotropes that can be changed. An illustration is the plastic allotrope of sulfur. Nonmetallic elements are not malleable, although some nonmetallic polymers are. For instance, some plastics are malleable.

Examples of malleable material

Read more: Understanding a fatigue limit of a material

How does malleability work?

The capacity of a material to roll or blow into a thin sheet is a common indicator of malleability. The non-metals don’t have this characteristic. When struck with a hammer, malleable metals will bend and twist into a variety of shapes, but non-malleable metals may shatter into fragments.

Because of their crystal structure, metals are pliable. In general, elements with close-packed crystal structures—such as face-centered cubic (FCC) or hexagonal close-packed (HCP)—are more flexible than those with more open structures (bcc). For instance, compared to vanadium or chromium, gold, silver, and magnesium are more malleable. Atoms are piled like flat sheets in densely packed structures, allowing the planes to slide past one another when a force is applied. Body-centered constructions, however, resemble corrugated sheets that are slip-resistant

But depending on temperature, impurity, and other variables, metals can adopt various structures. Therefore, the circumstances of an element or alloy will determine how malleable it is.

Most metals become more malleable as temperature rises because there are fewer grain boundaries. Since some metals aren’t flexible under normal circumstances, heat treatment can make them pliable. For instance, until it is heated above 300 degrees Fahrenheit, zinc becomes brittle (150 degrees Celsius). The metal can be rolled into sheets at temperatures higher than this. Another technique to control malleability is alloy metals. Brass, for example, is less bendable than copper or zinc, its constituent metals. 14-karat gold and sterling silver are alloys that harden gold and silver and minimize their malleability.

Watch the video below to learn more about malleability:

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 Malleability and Ductility

Just as earlier explained, Ductility and malleability are not always synonymous; for example, gold is both ductile and malleable, whereas lead is only malleable. The amount of pressure (compressive stress) that a metal can withstand without breaking is typically used to determine its physical attribute. Metals’ physical properties are affected by differences in their crystalline structures.

While malleability refers to a metal’s ability to deform under compression, ductility refers to a metal’s ability to stretch without causing harm. Copper is an example of a metal that is both ductile (it can be stretched into wires) and malleable (it can be bent into shapes) (it can also be rolled into sheets).

Although most malleable metals are also ductile, the two qualities are not always mutually exclusive. When lead and tin are cold, they are pliable and ductile, but as temperatures rise near their melting points, they become progressively brittle. When metals are heated, however, they become more malleable. This is because the temperature has an effect on the crystal grains in metals.

Read more: What are the metal materials used in electric cars?

Malleability vs Hardness

Metals are more likely to fracture around grain boundaries because atoms there are less closely linked. As a result, metals with numerous grain boundaries will be more difficult to work. However, it becomes more brittle and less flexible as the number of grain boundaries decreases. Most metals become more malleable when heated because of how higher temperatures affect the crystal grains.

Harder metals like antimony and bismuth make it more challenging to force atoms into new positions without them breaking because of their complex crystal structures. This is due to the metal’s atoms’ rows not aligning. In other words, there are more grain borders or regions with weaker atom connections. At these grain boundaries, metals are prone to fracture. Therefore, metal will be harder, more brittle, and less malleable the more grain boundaries it has.

Read more: Understanding Hardness, strength, and toughness of materials


What is a malleability example?

A material’s malleability refers to its capacity to produce thin sheets when hammered or rolled under tension. Metals like gold, iron, aluminum, copper, silver, and lead are examples of malleable metals.

What is the malleability of a material?

A solid’s capacity to bend or be hammered into another shape without breaking is known as malleability. If the material is malleable, it can be rolled or hammered into a thin sheet for use. Metals like gold, silver, aluminum, copper, etc. are examples of malleable metals.

What are ductility and malleability?

A material is said to be malleable if it is easy to hammer out a thin sheet of the material. The most malleable metal is gold. The ability of a solid substance to deform when subjected to tensile stress is known as ductility.

Which best defines malleable?

Capable of being expanded or molded by the use of roller pressure or hammering. or susceptible to outside influences, forces, or alteration.

Is gold malleable or ductile?

Gold is malleable, so it can be flattened into extremely thin sheets.

Is a glass malleable?

Glass is a malleable material that may be shaped using a variety of techniques, including tempered, annealed, thermo-acoustic, armored, and laminated glass, among others.


Thin sheet metals frequently contain malleable metals, which can be rolled and submerged. When non-metals attempt to be malleable, they may break. But gold leaf is also regarded as a malleable substance. Most ductile metals are also malleable, therefore the two characteristics are not always exclusive. That is all for this article, where the answers to the following questions are discussed:

  • What is malleability?
  • What are examples of malleable metals?
  • How does malleability work?
  • malleability and ductility
  • Malleability vs hardness

I hope you learn a lot from the reading, if so, kindly share with others. Thanks for reading, see you around!