Ask Difference

Ductility vs. Malleability — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on September 20, 2023
Ductility is the ability of a material to stretch into thin wires; malleability is its ability to be hammered into thin sheets.
Ductility vs. Malleability — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Ductility and Malleability


Key Differences

Ductility and malleability are two distinct properties related to a material's deformation under stress. Ductility describes the capability of a substance to be drawn or stretched into thin wires without breaking. When a material like copper exhibits ductility, it can be formed into long, slender shapes under tension. On the flip side, malleability indicates how well a substance can be hammered, pressed, or rolled into thin sheets. Gold, known for its malleability, can be transformed into very thin leaf-like structures without cracking.
These properties, ductility and malleability, primarily concern metals and determine their applications in various industries. For instance, the ductility of steel allows it to be used in making wires, while the malleability of aluminum makes it suitable for crafting thin foils. Despite their differences, both properties are centered around the idea of deformation. Ductility focuses on tensile (pulling) forces, while malleability is all about compressive (pushing) forces.
The presence or absence of ductility and malleability in materials derives from their atomic structures. Ductile materials possess atoms that can move past each other under stress without breaking bonds. In contrast, malleable substances have layers of atoms that slide over one another when compressive forces are applied. However, it's essential to note that few materials are exclusively ductile or malleable; many possess degrees of both qualities.
Understanding the distinctions between ductility and malleability is crucial for material science and engineering. Recognizing whether a metal is more ductile or more malleable can guide its usage, ensuring optimal performance and safety. For example, bridges require ductile metals that can stretch slightly under heavy loads without snapping, while jewelry might utilize malleable metals that can be shaped intricately.

Comparison Chart

Type of Deformation

Stretched into wires
Hammered or pressed into sheets

Force Involved

Tensile (pulling)
Compressive (pushing)

Atomic Movement

Atoms move past each other
Atomic layers slide over each other


Steel, copper
Gold, aluminum

Industry Usage

Wire manufacturing, bridge construction
Foil production, jewelry

Compare with Definitions


Ability to deform under tensile stress without breaking.
Copper's ductility allows it to be made into electrical wires.


Ability to deform under compression without cracking.
The malleability of gold makes it popular for jewelry crafting.


Attribute of being drawn out into threads or wires.
The ductility of the substance was tested using a tensile machine.


Resistance to breaking when compressed.
The malleability of the alloy was improved through heat treatment.


Resistance to fracture when pulled.
The ductility of the metal prevented it from snapping under tension.


Capability to undergo deformation by hammering or pressing.
The metal's malleability allowed artisans to design intricate patterns.


Capability to undergo plastic deformation.
Engineers value the ductility of steel in seismic regions.


Property enabling a material to be shaped into thin sheets.
Aluminum's malleability is evident in kitchen foils.


Property enabling a material to stretch into a wire.
The ductility of some metals is enhanced by alloying.


Capable of being shaped or formed, as by hammering or pressure
A malleable metal.


Ductility is a mechanical property commonly described as a material's amenability to drawing (e.g. into wire).


Easily controlled or influenced
"The British [rulers] ... had favoured the brother who struck them as altogether more amiable, a more malleable, more temperate man" (Paul Scott).


Easily drawn into wire or hammered thin
Ductile metals.


Able to adjust to changing circumstances; adaptable
A malleable leader unafraid to compromise.


Easily molded or shaped.


Capable of being changed or adjusted to meet particular or varied needs
The malleable rhythms of jazz.


Capable of being readily persuaded or influenced; tractable
A ductile young mind.


The quality or state of being malleable.


(physics) Ability of a material to be drawn out longitudinally to a reduced section without fracture under the action of a tensile force.


The property by virtue of which a material can be extended in all directions without rupture by the application of load; a material's ability to be bent, formed, or shaped without cracking or breaking.


The property of a metal which allows it to be drawn into wires or filaments.


(cryptography) a property of a cryptographic algorithms in which an adversary can alter a ciphertext such that it decrypts to a related plaintext


Tractableness; pliableness.


The quality or state of being malleable; - opposed to friability and brittleness.


The malleability of something that can be drawing into wires or hammered into thin sheets


The property of being physically malleable; the property of something that can be worked or hammered or shaped under pressure without breaking


Quality of being moldable under compressive forces.
Due to its malleability, the metal could be transformed into a decorative sheet.

Common Curiosities

Which is more malleable: gold or iron?

Gold is more malleable than iron.

Does temperature affect ductility?

Yes, increasing temperature can enhance a metal's ductility.

Is ductility related to toughness?

While both involve resistance to breakage, toughness measures energy absorption before fracturing, while ductility focuses on deformation.

Can non-metals be ductile?

Typically, non-metals are not ductile, but there are exceptions based on certain conditions.

Why is gold's malleability useful in jewelry?

Gold's malleability lets jewelers shape it into intricate designs without breaking.

Can a metal be both ductile and malleable?

Yes, many metals, like copper, exhibit both ductility and malleability.

What makes a substance ductile?

Ductility arises from atoms' ability to move past each other without breaking bonds.

Are all metals malleable?

Not all metals are malleable; it depends on their atomic structure.

What happens when a non-malleable metal is hammered?

A non-malleable metal might crack or break when hammered.

How are ductility and elasticity different?

While ductility concerns permanent deformation, elasticity relates to temporary deformation where the material returns to its original shape.

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger
Previous Comparison
Herring vs. Sardines
Next Comparison
Mandarin vs. Tangerine

Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

Popular Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Comparisons

Trending Terms