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I'm designing an aircraft, and certain sections need to hold under a lot of stress. I know that it is the ways the metal crystallizes that effects the malleability, but does the distance between the atoms/ crystal arrangement also affect malleability?

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    $\begingroup$ This is a very broad question that veers rapidly away from chemistry and deeply into metallurgy and materials science. Crystal structure, grain size, alloying elements, multiple phases, annealing time, quenching and quench rate, etc., etc. all come in to play. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 19:23

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In general, malleability is determined by how easily metal crystals can be moved around. Anything that gets in the way, such as another substance blocking crystal movement, makes the metal less malleable.

For example, pure iron is malleable, but add some carbon to molten iron, and the carbon precipitates out on cooling, blocking crystal movement and creating much harder and more brittle carbon steel. Think of it as a two-phase material.

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