Let’s continue our deep dive into construction materials. We’ve covered the differences between some of the most common man-made and natural materials. We’ve also talked about the characteristics of wood as a construction material. In this article we are going to take a look at ductile vs brittle materials and what is used when. 


What is ductile?

First of all, let’s get some definitions straight! Ductile and brittle are opposites. A ductile material is one that can be easily drawn out into wires without losing strength or breaking. Basically, if you apply pressure to a ductile material, it will change shape. The ability to be ductile can depend on the temperature.  Metals are good examples of ductile materials at high temperatures (gold, copper and titanium).  In fact, that’s the reason they are called “soft metals.”


What is brittle?

The opposite of ductile is brittle, a material that will snap if you try to change its shape. Brittle materials are affected by pressure or stress and will not deform but break suddenly when they cannot take the pressure any longer. Think of glass or ceramic, if you try to bend glass, it won’t budge until the moment it shatters into a million pieces. Another example of a brittle material is concrete. And here is the interesting part, most materials that we consider “hard” like diamonds, cast iron or steel are also brittle. 


When to use what?

Clearly the engineers that we work with understand these principles and know what materials go where. But it’s important to have a general idea of how materials react to forces and energies thrust upon them to make good decisions for our clients. We can modify some materials’ properties by adding other components to them. For example, by adding a metal frame to a concrete wall, we can add ductility to said concrete.  

The most important thing is being clear on what are the forces that are going to be at play on the materials we are using. When we know how the materials are going to interact with the real world when they are laid and installed, we can better understand how they are going to react. 


At Atlantic Link we work with a wide range of materials with different properties. From engineered wood, perfect for flooring, to tempered and laminated glass ideal for doors windows. Our team of experts will be able to help you pick the best material for each project. 

Interested in seeing how Atlantic Link can help you import materials from Italy?

Check out our past projects and see what we are able to do for you!