Tensile Strength

Definition - What does Tensile Strength mean?

Tensile Strength is the maximum amount of stress that a material can handle without failing, breaking or deforming. It is customarily measured in units of force per cross-sectional area. This is an important concept in engineering, especially in the fields of material science, mechanical engineering and structural engineering. The ability to resist breaking under tensile stress is one of the most important and widely measured properties of materials used in structural applications.

Tensile strength testing determines how a particular alloy will elongate before hitting ultimate tensile strength and how much load a particular piece of metal can accommodate before it loses structural integrity. Therefore, it is vital for construction safety and personal safety.

Petropedia explains Tensile Strength

Tensile strength specifies the point when a material goes from elastic to plastic deformation. It is expressed as the minimum tensile stress (force per unit area) needed to split the material apart. For example, if a metal rod one square inch in cross section can withstand a pulling force of 1,000 pounds but breaks if more force is applied, the metal rod is said to have a tensile strength of 1,000 pounds per square inch. The tensile strength for structural steel is 400 megapascals (MPa) and for carbon steel is 841 MPa. Tensile strength is different for different densities of steel.

There are three types of tensile strength-:

  • Yield strength - This is the stress a material can withstand without permanent deformation.
  • Ultimate strength - This is the maximum stress a material can withstand.
  • Breaking strength - This is the stress coordinate on the stress-strain curve at the point of rupture.

Tensile strength is a maximum tensile force bearing state of any material after which the material leads to tensile failure in one of these two manners:

  1. Ductile failure - Yield as the first stage of failure, some hardening in the second stage and breakage after a possible "neck" formation.
  2. Brittle failure - Sudden breaking in two or more pieces at a low stress state.

Tensile strength, along with elastic modulus and corrosion resistance, are important parameters of engineering materials that are used in structures and mechanical devices.

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