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Stress, Strain and Elasticity


Stress is defined as load (or force) divided by cross sectional area. The
maximum stress a material can stand before it breaks is called the breaking
stress or ultimate tensile stress.

Tensile means the material is under tension. The forces acting on it are trying
to stretch the material. Compression is when the forces acting on an object
that are trying to squash it.


Strain is defined as the change in length due to the application of a force
divided by the original length.

Stress-Strain Curves

The relationship between the stress and strain that a particular material
displays is known as that particular materials Stress-Strain curve. It is unique
for each material and is found by recording the amount of deformation
(strain) at distinct intervals of tensile or compressive loading (stress). These
curves reveal many of the properties of a material (including data to
establish the Modulus of Elasticity, E).

Stress-strain curves of various materials vary widely, and different tensile
tests conducted on the same material yield different results, depending upon
the temperature of the specimen and the speed of the loading. It is possible,
however, to distinguish some common characteristics among the stress-
strain curves of various groups of materials and, on this basis, to divide
materials into two broad categories; namely, the ductile materials and brittle

As the stress is increased from zero, initially there is a linear relationship
between the stress and strain. Under these loads, if the stress is relaxed to
zero then the strain is also reduces to zero. This region is known as the elastic
region and the linear relationship between stress and strain is known as
Hookes law. The ratio of stress to strain is constant in this region and is
known as Youngs modulus, E, which is given in units of N/mm
or GPa.
Youngs modulus gives a measure of the stiffness of the material.

As the stress is increased further, a deviation from linear behavior occurs at
the yield point. The definition of the yield strength is the point at which
plastic deformation occurs without any increase in the force, i.e. at the yield
plateau. At this point if the material is unloaded down to zero stress, a small
permanent strain offset remains. This permanent deflection is known as
plastic deformation and the region of the stress-strain above the yield point
is known as plastic region. The yield strength is the stress corresponding to
the yield point.

With increasing applied force, the stress-strain curve reaches a maximum at
the ultimate tensile strength. The UTS is the maximum load that can be
tolerated by the specimen and is defined as the stress corresponding to the
maximum force. After reaching the UTS the stress-strain curve declines and
necking occurs, where the specimen becomes thinner and develops a neck.
As a result, the load drops due to the lack of resistance from the material.

Hookes Law

Hookes law states that for an elastic body strain is proportional to stress.

Youngs Modulus

Youngs modulus: the ratio of stress to strain is constant in Hookes law

Proof Stress

Where there is no obvious yield point, such as a yield plateau and the stress-
strain curve rises smoothly into the plastic region, it is necessary to define an
arbitrary (not a fixed material characteristic) yield point. In such cases, the
0.2% proof strength (Rp
) is used as a design parameter. Rp0.2 describes the
stress obtained for an elongation of 0.2% and is determined by plotting a line
parallel to the elastic part of the stress-strain curve, at an offset of 0.2%
along the strain axis. Where the line intersects the stress-strain curve is the
0.2% proof strength.

Tensile Testing

Tensile testing, also known as tension testing, is a fundamental materials
science test in which a sample is subjected to a controlled tension until
failure. The results from the test are commonly used to select a material for
an application, for quality control, and to predict how a material will react
under other types of forces. Properties that are directly measured via a
tensile test are ultimate tensile strength, maximum elongation and reduction
in area. From these measurements the following properties can also be
determined: Youngs modulus, yield strength and etc. Uniaxial tensile testing
is the most commonly used for obtaining the mechanical characteristics of
isotropic (having physical properties, as elasticity, that are the same in
measurement along all axes or directions) materials.

Yield Point

A yield strength or yield point of a material is defined in engineering and
materials science as the stress at which a material begins to deform
plastically. Prior to the yield point the material will deform elastically and will
return to its original shape when the applied stress is removed. Once the
yield point is passed, some fraction of the deformation will be permanent
and non-reversible.