A metal is a material (an element, compound, or alloy) that is typically hard, opaque, shiny, and has good electrical and thermal conductivity. Metals are generally malleable — that is, they can be hammered or pressed permanently out of shape without breaking or cracking — as well as fusible (able to be fused or melted) and ductile (able to be drawn out into a thin wire).About 91 of the 118 elements in the periodic table are metals (some elements appear in both metallic and non-metallic forms).


The nature of metals has fascinated mankind for many centuries, because these materials provided people with tools of unsurpassed properties both in war and in their preparation and processing. Sterling gold and silver were known to man since the Stone Age. Lead and silver were fused from their ores as early as the fourth millennium BC.