Metals are the most widely used structural material, spanning length scales from ~100 nm to ~100 m in applications where a combination of strength and ductility is required. Compared to plastics, however, metals exhibit limited processability. The origin of the superb processability of (thermo)plastics is the gradual softening from a solid-like material (glass) below the glass transition temperature, Tg, to a liquid-like material (supercooled liquid) when heated above Tg. From a processing point of view, an ideal material would flow under a forming pressure, which is low, yet sufficiently large that turbulent flow is avoided and gravity and wetting effects can be neglected on the time scale of the process.
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Materials Today (2011) 14(1-2), 14-19