In material science, deformation (described quantitatively as strain) occurs when a load (described quantitatively as stress) is applied to a material sufficient enough to cause the material to change shape. A temporary shape change that is completely reversible after the force is removed, so that the object returns to its original shape, is called elastic deformation.

When a load is sufficiently large enough to deform the metal irreversibly, so that the object does not return to its original shape after the load is removed, it is called plastic deformation. Plastic deformation involves the breaking of atomic bonds by the movement of dislocations which cause the material to yield. Dislocations are irregularities within a crystal structure which allow the atoms in crystal planes to slip past one another at low-stress levels.

In Liquidmetal alloys, the amorphous atomic structure, and consequential absence of dislocations allow this unique material to elastically deform to somewhat mind-bending limits, returning to its original shape each time. For a material as hard, stiff, and light as Liquidmetal, these are remarkable results.

The embedded video below demonstrates what happens when a plate of Liquidmetal alloy shown in the picture shown to the right (45 mm long, 15 mm wide, 1.8 mm thick) is loaded with twelve hundred pounds of force using an ASTM standard four-point bend test fixture and then released. A similar three-point bend test is then performed side-by-side with a plate of titanium alloy (Titanium 6AL-4V) of the same dimensions, illustrating the significant differences in elastic properties between the two metals.

For applications that require hardness (53 Rc) and stiffness (Young’s Modulus of 96 MPa) in a material that does not plastically deform or yield, Liquidmetal alloys offer dramatic performance advantages. To learn more about how our material can help your product application, please download our Materials Datasheet or click Contact Us and we would be happy to discuss your application in more detail.