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Elasticity vs. Ductility: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 6, 2023
Elasticity is a material's ability to resume its shape after stretching or compressing; ductility is the ability to be stretched into a wire without breaking.

Key Differences

Elasticity is a property that allows a material to return to its original shape after being deformed by an external force. When the force is removed, if the material springs back without any permanent deformation, it is said to have high elasticity. Common examples of elastic materials include rubber bands and springs that return to their original form after being stretched or compressed.
Ductility, however, refers to a material's ability to deform under tensile stress. This is often characterized by the material's ability to be stretched into a thin wire. When a material exhibits ductility, it can undergo significant plastic deformation before rupture. Metals like gold and copper are highly ductile and can be drawn into thin wires without breaking.
Elasticity is quantified by a modulus of elasticity, also known as Young's modulus, which measures the stiffness of an elastic material. The higher the modulus, the less deformable the material is, indicating stronger elastic properties. Elastic behavior is crucial in applications where materials must withstand cycles of loading and unloading without permanent deformation.
In contrast, ductility is often measured by the amount of plastic strain a material can endure before fracture. It is a key property in fields such as metal forming and manufacturing, where materials are reshaped without breaking. While elasticity is about recovering shape, ductility is about the extent to which a material can permanently change shape.
While both properties relate to a material's response to stress, elasticity is about recoverability, and ductility is about permanent deformation. Materials that are both elastic and ductile can both return to their original shape and also be drawn into wires or hammered into thin sheets, combining resilience with flexibility.

Comparison Chart


Ability to recover shape after stress.
Ability to be drawn into wire.

Type of Deformation

Non-permanent, reversible.
Permanent, plastic.

Stress Involved

Normal stress (compressive/tensile).
Tensile stress.

Measure of Property

Modulus of elasticity (Young's modulus).
Percentage elongation before fracture.

Material Examples

Rubber, springs.
Gold, copper.

Elasticity and Ductility Definitions


Capacity of a material to return to its original shape after deformation.
The elasticity of the rubber band was evident as it snapped back instantly.


The property that allows a material to be drawn into a wire.
The ductility of copper makes it ideal for electrical wiring.


The degree to which a demand or supply is sensitive to price changes.
The elasticity of demand for luxury goods is generally low.


The ability to undergo extensive plastic deformation before rupture.
The ductility of the metal was tested by stretching it until it broke.


Resilience or the ability to withstand stress without permanent damage.
The bridge's design accounted for the elasticity of the construction materials during earthquakes.


The quality of being easily moldable or pliable.
The artist chose a material with high ductility for his intricate sculpture.


Flexibility or adaptability to change or movement.
The company's elasticity allowed it to adapt quickly to market changes.


Malleability, or the material's capacity to be deformed under compressive stress.
Gold's ductility allows it to be formed into incredibly thin sheets.


A measure of the ability of muscles and tissues to stretch.
Yoga can greatly improve the elasticity of your muscles.


A characteristic of materials that can sustain large strains.
Engineers value the ductility of steel when designing earthquake-resistant structures.


The condition or property of being elastic; flexibility.


Easily drawn into wire or hammered thin
Ductile metals.


The property of returning to an initial form or state following deformation.


Easily molded or shaped.


What defines a material's elasticity?

The ability of a material to resist deformation and return to its original shape.

Can elasticity be measured?

Yes, it's measured using the modulus of elasticity.

Is ductility a type of elasticity?

No, ductility is about permanent deformation; elasticity is about temporary deformation.

Is glass elastic or ductile?

Glass is brittle, with very low elasticity and no ductility.

Why is ductility important in metals?

Ductility allows metals to be formed into various shapes without breaking.

What materials are known for high ductility?

Metals like gold, silver, and copper are highly ductile.

Do elastic materials always return to their exact original shape?

Ideally, yes, but some may experience a slight permanent deformation.

Does cutting a material affect its elasticity?

Cutting a material can change the way it deforms, affecting apparent elasticity.

What's an example of a ductile application?

Copper pipes, made by exploiting the ductility of copper.

Are rubber bands ductile?

No, they're elastic but not ductile as they don't deform permanently.

Can elasticity vary with temperature?

Yes, elasticity can change with temperature for some materials.

Is ductility the same as malleability?

Not exactly, malleability refers to compressive plastic deformation, ductility to tensile.

How is ductility tested?

By tensile tests, observing how much a material can stretch before breaking.

What happens to ductile materials under stress?

They deform permanently and can be drawn into wires.

Can plastics be elastic?

Some plastics can be elastic to a degree, like polyurethane.

Can materials be both highly elastic and highly ductile?

Yes, some metals like nickel-titanium alloys exhibit both properties.

Does high elasticity mean high strength?

Not necessarily; elasticity measures shape recovery, not material strength.

Can ductility be restored once lost?

No, once a material has plastically deformed, it can't return to its original shape.

Is there a limit to elasticity?

Yes, beyond a certain point called the elastic limit, deformation becomes permanent.

What's the benefit of ductility in construction?

It allows structures to bend without breaking under stress, like during earthquakes.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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