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Metallic and Nonmetallic Character

Reactivity of metals and nonmetals

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To Metal or Not to Metal?

How are metallic and nonmetallic character useful?

Metallic character is the measure of an element’s reactivity. Nonmetallic character is the inclination of an element to accept electrons during a chemical reaction. However, when applied to the real world, metallic and nonmetallic character take on a more literal definition.

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Ancient Chinese metal coins [Figure1]

Metal has always been the main component used for packaging and protection of most electronics since the early 20th century. However, the end of the 20th century and begininng of the 21st century have brought upon a plethora of nonmetals adequate for the purposes of metals. When deciding which enclosure to use, either the metal or nonmetal type, companies first look at environmental, physical, and electrical characteristics. 

After taking a look at the environmental character of each type of enclosure, businesses look at physical character through qualities such as corrosion resistance, size, flammability, flexural strength, and sunlight (UV) resistance. Next, electrical characteristics such as electrical conductivity, service temperature, thermal conductivity, and arc resistance are accounted for. Throughout this process, metal and nonmetal character are focused on for a means of product quality.

Creative Applications

  1. What are the benefits of using metals for enclosures? How has the development of nonmetals for enclosures benefitted businesses?
  2. What trends on the periodic table are those of metals and nonmetals similar to?
  3. How can an element have properties of both metals and nonmetals? What are the qualities of this group of elements?


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