In previous installments of our series on Metal Properties, we’ve discussed characteristics that set metals apart from one another, as well as those that distinguish them from other nonmetallic elements. Conductivity represents an array of essential features that go to the very heart of what defines a metal. In this article we will be asking: what are the factors affecting the conductivity of metals? What are the most thermally and electrically conductive metals, and why does conductivity matter for manufacturers?
All materials possess some degree of conductivity. One of the main characteristics of metals is their ability to conduct heat and electricity, so metals are all relatively conductive compared to non-metals. However, even within metals you’ll find a broad range in levels of conductivity. A sound knowledge of where various metals fall on the spectrum helps manufacturers choose the right alloy for each product.