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What is Plasticity?

Custom metal work

What Is Material Plasticity?

When you work with us, we’ll sometimes discuss plasticity with you if the concept applies to your situation. Plasticity is the non-reversible deformation of a material due to applied forces. While that sounds very scientific, simply picture a piece of strong steel that has been bent at a 90 degree angle. The material will now hold this new shape without returning to its original form (for further demonstration, try to perfectly straighten a clothes hanger with your bare hands).

This concept goes beyond just metals, as everything from rocks and concrete, to even our own bones and skin demonstrate this concept. For our conversation, we’ll discuss metals as they pertain closest to our day-to-day work.

To get nerdy for a moment, there are two basic types of deformation with metals. Slip is a shear deformation where atoms are moved through many inter-atomic distances (relative to where they started before being moved). Twinning is the deformation that takes place along two planes due to a set of forces. These forces mainly come from heat and pressure.

For many metals, you want to apply a tensile load to your piece that will cause the metal to behave in an elastic manner. As we increase the load, the load will pass a threshold (yield strength), and once we remove the force (heat and/or pressure), the metal will not return to its original shape.

If you’d like to learn more about our metal working services, please visit our custom metal work page here or contact us to ask a specific question about your needs.

What is Plasticity?