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Faculty of Engineering, the Built Environment & IT

Technology for tomorrow

Department of Mechatronics
North Campus
Strength of Materials 2
MSM2111
Compiled by: BH Roberts
Revision:
2012

Practical Guide
Tensile Testing of Steel

Faculty of Engineering, the Built Environ. &


IT
Department of Mechatronics
Tensile Testing of Steel
1.

Doc
ID:

MSM2111
Prac1

Rev.:

2012

By:

BHR

PURPOSE / OBJECTIVES OF THE PRACTICAL EXERCISE

The purpose of the practical in the context of the Mechatronics learning program and
the Strength of Materials 2 module is to provide an opportunity for learners to:
Investigate certain aspects of the syllabus of the module from a practical
perspective
Obtain an understanding of certain mechanical properties and how they are
measured
Write technical reports and demonstrate their understanding
Apply and compare theory and calculations with physical observation and
measurement
Use calculations of measured data to deduce material properties etc.
Draw and interpret graphs
Analyze and evaluate/discuss observations/results, and draw apt conclusions
Learn how to use certain testing and measuring equipment and apply it to the task
Work as part of a team
Effectively apply PC based word editing and generate graphs using Exel
In addition the exercise provides an opportunity for the learners abilities in the above
areas to be assessed.
2.

OVERVIEW OF PRACTICAL EXERCISE

These guidelines are to give you an overview of the practical and what is expected
from you. Guidelines are given, but it is up to you to document the procedure and
organize the data into useful results etc., according to the objectives of the practical.
Thus, use your own words and interpretation, making sure you cover all relevant
aspects. For example, it is up to you to describe the apparatus used and the test
procedure, and to select the relevant theories and compare them with the practical
results, etc. Certain specific requirements will however be outlined to you, as indicated
below. A mark of zero will be awarded where there is evidence of plagiarism. Rather
use fewer words, but your own, than many words from someone else, which may or
may not be relevant anyway.
The report must be typed in Microsoft Word. The entire report should be in one
document all graphs are to be imported from Exel into the Word document.
Remember to use the third person passive voice typical of technical report writing.
You are advised to read this whole Practical Guide document before starting your
report.
One report must be provided per group.
3.

REPORT SECTIONS

The report must contain the following sections, typical to laboratory report writing
(include section numbering (and sub-section numbering where applicable)):
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Faculty of Engineering, the Built Environ. &


IT
Department of Mechatronics
Tensile Testing of Steel

Doc
ID:

MSM2111
Prac1

Rev.:

2012

By:

BHR

Aim/Objective
Apparatus
Method
Theory
Observations / Results / Calculations
Discussion / Conclusions
Further instructions on each of these are given below.
Aim / Objective
The aim of the practical is to investigate certain properties of a steel sample,
namely:
Young's Modulus of Elasticity
Yield Point
Ultimate Tensile Strength
Percentage Elongation
Percentage Reduction in Area
Apparatus
List and briefly describe the apparatus used. Describe the test specimens, and
indicate why they are shaped like they are. Provide a simplified diagram (e.g.
using the Word draw function, not hand drawn) of the test apparatus
arrangement. Photographs can also be included. Could the equipment and the
test specimens be improved upon? Suggest possible improvements, but do this
in the discussion/conclusion section.
Method
Explain in your own words the method used for each investigation / procedure.
Your description should be clear enough that someone who did not witness the
practical would have a clear understanding of what was done. Essentially we will
be testing two samples, one mostly in the elastic range, and the other over the
entire strain range, to failure. Both tests will be performed using the Hounsfield
tensile testing machine.
Theory
Indicate and explain clearly in this section all relevant theory and how it is used in
your analyses. Show pertinent formulae and explain how they are used / what
their purpose is, in this practical. Sample calculations are normally provided in
the observations/results/calculations section.

Observations / Results / Calculations


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Faculty of Engineering, the Built Environ. &


IT
Department of Mechatronics
Tensile Testing of Steel

Doc
ID:

MSM2111
Prac1

Rev.:

2012

By:

BHR

It is not necessary in this instance to include the whole Exel spreadsheet of result
data. Do however show relevant portions of the spreadsheet data, e.g. data used
to calculate stress, yield point, etc. For the purpose of this practical exercise,
tables should show raw and manipulated/calculated data, so that the assessor
can follow your working better. Preferably place relevant extracts from the
spreadsheets in the body of your report where the data from each extract is being
referred to, not at the end, in this case, for ease of marking.
Show relevant graphs in this section.
Refer the reader to the relevant formulae indicated in the theory section, and
show sample calculations. Indicate all observations made during the practical,
in this section (some of these may perhaps need to be mentioned in the theory
section use your discretion).
Errors are also generally calculated in this section, and discussed further in the
discussion/conclusion section.
Note: The discussion / answers to at least some of the questions given below
would generally be in the discussion/conclusions section of a practical report.
The questions are listed in this section (results) so as to indicate to what
data/results they are applicable. For this exercise, address the questions, where
appropriate, in the results section as you proceed, as opposed to the
discussion/conclusion section. Note that there are some additional questions
listed under Discussion / Conclusions in this document. Also note that there is not
necessarily one specific correct answer to each question, and some of them are
purposefully of an open ended nature.
The following must be included in this section. Letters have been used with each
bullet, for reference purposes. Please show the letter that a question falls under,
and include the actual question text from this guide in your report in italics (or in
a different colour if your hard copy is in colour), so I can see what is Question and
what is Answer (sometimes there is more than one instruction/question under a
letter, so you may have to separate these out from each other just make sure
the relevant letter appears whenever you are dealing with an item under that
letter; do this for both the questions requiring answers and for the graphs and
values that you are determining).
A) Show the graphs obtained from the test data (spreadsheet obtained from the
instrument). Include the following, assuming the relevant data are all available
(or calculate from the data if necessary; indicate what is directly from the data,
and what is calculated i.e. clarify in the column headings in your tables
whether it is a raw data column or a calculated column): Force vs.
Extensometer displacement; Stress vs. Extensometer strain; Force vs. Crosshead displacement; Stress vs. Cross-head strain (to obtain an approximate
strain from the cross-head displacement, consider that the full parallel length of
the specimen is between the jaws of the testing machine). Superimpose the
Stress/Strain graph obtained from the extensometer, with that obtained from the
cross-head (in the region of overlap i.e. where strain is relatively small).
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Faculty of Engineering, the Built Environ. &


IT
Department of Mechatronics
Tensile Testing of Steel

Doc
ID:

MSM2111
Prac1

Rev.:

2012

By:

BHR

B) The technician will have done a first pull at a low load, to embed the
grippers firmly into the sample, then relaxed the force on the sample by jogging
the mechanism back, and then zero-ing the force and displacement readings,
after which he should have done a pull to somewhere in the elastic range, and
then verified this by taking force back down to zero and observing whether the
strain also returned to zero; then he should have pulled the specimen to just
past yield. Use the second pull data (i.e. to somewhere in elastic range) for
comparison with the next pull (i.e. to yield) see whether the graphs overlap
nicely and compare the Es calculated for each pull (only do the regression
analysis on the one to yield just do a simple calculation for the elastic range
pull, for comparison purposes).]
C) Determine the yield point using visual observation of the turning point on the
Force vs. Extensometer displacement graph (or Stress vs. Extensometer
strain), and by the 0.2% strain offset method. Superimpose the offset line onto
the graph and hence determine the yield stress for the material. Note that the
distance between the gripping points of the extensometer is manufactured to
be 50mm when it is in its most closed position (as opposed to its most
extended position). Note: If a different extensometer was used, it may have a
different closed length. Did the technician make sure that the extensometer
was fully closed before starting the test? Did he also zero the extensometer
reading (and force reading) on the PC before starting? If so, why? Is this
legitimate? Did he make sure there was a slight tension in the specimen before
commencing testing? Explain why this might be necessary (look up the
definition of and consider the phenomenon of backlash occurring in machinery
and how this might affect readings). Explain how the initial distance between
the gripping points of the extensometer would affect the determination of E
would it appear too large, too small, or would it be unaffected, if the gauge was
actually say 51mm open at the start as opposed to 50mm as it is supposed to
be (assuming the user thought the extensometer was at its most closed
position at the start)? Explain. Compare the yield point determined
experimentally to data obtained from at least two reference books and one
internet site.
D) Calculate E using the test table data (and compare it to the value given from
the test PC, if this value is shown in the PC results page). Which extension
readings should be used to find E, i.e. extensometer or cross-head readings?
Use an Excel curve fitting function to obtain the best fit linear relation between
force and extension, and between stress and strain, in the elastic region (to
find E). Compare this to using only two points, i.e. a single data point very near
the upper end of the elastic region, and a single point very near the lower end
of the elastic region. Is it legitimate to use zero force, zero displacement as a
data point in calculating E? Explain. Does this point (0;0) appear in the test
PC tables? Suggest a reason for the answer. Also compare the above to a
linear regression determination of the slope to determine E, by manual
calculation (show all formulae used and explain procedure). For the latter, use
about 4 or 5 points well spread over the range of the linear elastic part of the
force/extension (or stress/strain) graph. Obtain these from the table data.
Tabulate these data points and show them on a graph, together with the
regression line determined. Determine and discuss, using regression analysis,
the correlation co-efficient (between stress and strain or between force and
displacement/extension).
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Faculty of Engineering, the Built Environ. &


IT
Department of Mechatronics
Tensile Testing of Steel

Doc
ID:

MSM2111
Prac1

Rev.:

2012

By:

BHR

E) Compare the value of E obtained above to a value calculated from the


cross-head readings. Is it valid to use the cross-head data to determine a
value for E? Explain. (Consider what the displacement on this graph really
means what displacement is being measured / where the displacement is
being measured; also, what length/dimension should you use for the gauge
length (to calculate strain) if attempting to use this table/data? - explain.)
F) Compare the value of E obtained from the tensile test (extensometer data),
to typical values for E for mild steel (obtain from at least two reference books
and one internet reference).
G) Was there a clear proportional point and yield point (i.e. were they distinct?)
H) Determine the ultimate tensile strength and the fracture strength from the
table data, and the corresponding strains. Determine the true stress at the
fracture point, and the corresponding true strain (= ln (L/L0)). Could you
determine the true stress (and strain / true strain) at the maximum force point,
from the measurements taken? Explain (consider whether a suitable
dimension(s) of the specimen was/were taken to achieve this; if not, would you
be able to estimate the dimensions you need, from the fractured specimen?)
Would you expect true stress to be larger or smaller, in general, than
engineering stress? Explain. Would you expect true strain to be larger or
smaller than engineering strain? Explain. Compare the above values
obtained (consider conventional and true values), to data obtained from at
least two reference books and one internet site.
I) Consider the specimen at fracture. How well does the extension determined
from the PC readings at fracture (on the relevant graph/table) compare with the
extension measured using the actual specimen (i.e. using the original gauge
length and the final length after fracture)? Would you expect a significant
difference and, if so, to what could this be attributed? If you in general wanted
to use the cross-head displacement data to determine relatively accurate
strains throughout the test range (perhaps because you do not have an
extensometer available), what changes to the test sample dimensions would
you recommend, and why? (Consider length and cross-sectional area). What
dimension of the test specimen would you use as the gauge length in this
scenario? Why?
J) Determine the percent elongation and the area reduction ratio, at fracture,
using the Vernier measurements taken before and after fracture. Which in your
opinion gives a more meaningful indication of ductility? Explain. Is it
meaningful to specify the percent elongation of a material without reference to
a gauge length? Explain. Would you say that the test sample, from the data
obtained, is a ductile or brittle material? Why? (What typical value(s) of
elongation or area reduction is normally used to indicate the end of the range
of brittle materials and the beginning of the range of ductile materials?
obtain from at least one reference book and one internet site).
K) Compare and discuss your answers for the calculated elongation and area
reduction, to data obtained for mild steel from one reference book and one
internet site. Does the material conform to typical mild steel values (or do you
think the sample was not mild steel)? What percentage carbon would you
estimate the steel to have, given the reference material data?
Discussion / Conclusions
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Faculty of Engineering, the Built Environ. &


IT
Department of Mechatronics
Tensile Testing of Steel

Doc
ID:

MSM2111
Prac1

Rev.:

2012

By:

BHR

In general, discuss assumptions, observations, results, deductions, and


conclusions, in this section. Also discuss errors and possible sources of error.
Suggest ways to reduce these. Discuss anomalies observed or obtained from the
results. Suggest possible ways to improve the practical (both from the point of
view of accuracy, and from the point of view of relevance for the learner and
making it more interesting/useful).
Further questions to be answered:
L) Did the testing machine gradually increase the strain/extension in a steady
controlled fashion at a pre-determined rate (and hence measure what
corresponding force developed), or did it gradually steadily increase the
applied force at a steady rate (and hence measure what corresponding strain
was developed)? Explain.
M) Given the above question, how would these two possible methods affect
which variable is seen as the independent variable, and which is seen as the
dependant variable? Explain.
N) In your opinion, which (strain or force) should be regarded, in terms of best
understanding the material properties, as the independent and which as the
dependant variable? Explain.
O) If the testing machine operated in the alternative way to your answer above,
(i.e. in terms of which variable is controlled), what difference(s) do you think
might be observed in the experiment? Consider, for example, whether fracture
would be more immediate once the ultimate tensile (or shear) strength stress
value has been passed.
Add any other relevant discussions/conclusions.
References
List all references used, in the format specified by the department.
4.

ASSESSMENT

As a general guide, assessment shall be based on the following. Note however that
due to the nature of the report, certain aspects may be reported under different
sections, or spread over sections, therefore the weightings indicated below are a guide
only and discretion will be applied during assessment.
Apparatus:
Method:
Theory:
Observations/Results/Calculations:
Tables:
(17%)
Graphs:
(17%)
Calculations and sample calculations:
(17%)
Answering of questions (explanation type) (20%)
Discussion/Conclusions:

5%
6%
8%
71%

10%
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Faculty of Engineering, the Built Environ. &


IT
Department of Mechatronics
Tensile Testing of Steel
Total:

Doc
ID:

MSM2111
Prac1

Rev.:

2012

By:

BHR

100%

For tables and graphs, clear labeling and headings are important. Presentation is
considered within the various categories, but in total will contribute about 5% to the
overall mark. This includes report structure and heading / sub-heading labels and
numbering, use of suitable and consistent fonts, etc.

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