Tensile strength is a property of a material that measures its ability to withstand tensile stress without failure. Various failure criteria can be used, and a unique tensile strength is associated with each. It is commonly obtained in a tensile test by pulling a material specimen and measuring the load when failure is reached; the tensile strength is then given by the failure load divided by the cross-sectional area of the specimen. As it is an intensive property, its value does not generally depend on the size of the test specimen. It is, however, dependent on other factors, including the preparation of the specimen and the temperature of the test environment and material. The various tensile strengths, along with elastic modulus and corrosion resistance, are important parameters of engineering materials used in structures and mechanical devices. They are tabulated for common materials such as alloys, composite materials, ceramics, plastics and wood.

Tensile strength is commonly defined in reference to the stress-strain curve resulting from a tensile test. There are three definitions of tensile strength: Yield strength The tensile stress at which a material changes from elastic to plastic behavior, causing it to elongate permanently. Because of the difficulty of precisely determining the transition from elasticity to plasticity, the offset yield tensile strength is often substituted, defined as the stress level that results in a small (but non-zero) permanent elongation, often 0.2%. Ultimate strength The maximum stress a material can withstand. It is the maximum stress on the engineering stress-strain curve, and, in general, indicates when necking will occur in a ductile material. Breaking strength The stress coordinate on the true stress-strain curve at the point of rupture.

[edit] Concept
The various definitions of tensile strength are shown in the following stress-strain graph for low-carbon steel: Metals including steel have a linear stress-strain relationship up to the yield point, as shown in the figure. In some steels the stress falls after the yield point. This is due to the interaction of carbon atoms and dislocations in the stressed steel. Cold worked and alloy steels do not show this effect. For most metals yield point is not sharply defined. Below the yield strength all deformation is recoverable, and the material will return to its initial shape when the load is removed. This recoverable deformation is known as elastic deformation. For stresses above the yield point the deformation is not recoverable, and the material will not return to its initial shape. This unrecoverable deformation is known as plastic deformation. For many applications plastic deformation is unacceptable, and the yield strength is used as the design limitation. After the yield point, steel and many other ductile metals will undergo a period of strain hardening, in which the stress increases again with increasing strain up to the ultimate strength. If the material is unloaded at this point, the stress-strain curve will be parallel to the original elastic portion of the curve, between the origin and the yield point. If it is then re-

loaded it will follow the unloading curve up again to the previous load, which has become the new yield strength, and will then continue following the original plastic curve. After a metal has been loaded to its yield strength it begins to "neck" as the cross-sectional area of the specimen decreases due to plastic flow. When necking becomes substantial, it may cause a reversal of the engineering stress-strain curve, where decreasing stress correlates to increasing strain because of geometric effects. This is because the engineering stress and engineering strain are calculated assuming the original cross-sectional area before necking. If the graph is plotted in terms of true stress and true strain the curve will always slope upwards and never reverse, as true stress is corrected for the decrease in cross-sectional area. Necking is not observed for materials loaded in compression. The peak stress on the engineering stress-strain curve is known as the ultimate strength. After a period of necking, the material will rupture and the stored elastic energy is released as noise and heat. The stress on the material at the time of rupture is known as the breaking strength. Ductile metals do not have a well defined yield point. The yield strength is typically defined by the "0.2% offset strain". The yield strength at 0.2% offset is determined by finding the intersection of the stress-strain curve with a line parallel to the initial slope of the curve and which intercepts the abscissa at 0.2%. A stress-strain curve typical of aluminium along with the 0.2% offset line is shown in the figure below.

Brittle materials such as concrete and carbon fiber do not have a yield point, and do not strain-harden which means that the ultimate strength and breaking strength are the same. A most unusual stress-strain curve is shown in the figure below. Typical brittle materials do not show any plastic deformation but fail while the deformation is elastic. One of the characteristics of a brittle failure is that the two broken parts can be reassembled to produce the same shape as the original component. A typical stress strain curve for a brittle material will be linear. Testing of several identical specimens will result in different failure stresses, this is due to the Weibull Modulus of the brittle material. The curve shown below would be typical of a brittle polymer tested at very slow strain rates at a temperature above its glass transition temperature. Some engineering ceramics show a small amount of ductile behaviour at stresses just below that causing failure but the initial part of the curve is a linear.

Tensile strength is measured in units of force per unit area. In the SI system, the unit is pascal (Pa), equal to newtons per square metre (N/m²). The customary unit is pounds-force per square inch (lbf/in² or psi); oftentimes "ksi" (kilo-pounds per square inch) is used for convenience. The breaking strength of a rope is specified in units of force, such as newtons, without specifying the cross-sectional area of the rope. This is often loosely called tensile strength, but this is not a strictly correct use of the term. In brittle materials such as rock, concrete, cast iron, or soil, tensile strength is negligible compared to the compressive strength and it is assumed zero for many engineering applications. Glass fibers have a tensile strength stronger than steel[1], but bulk glass usually does not. This is due to the Stress Intensity Factor associated with defects in the material. As the size of the sample gets larger, the size of defects also grows. In general, the tensile strength of a rope is always less than the tensile strength of its individual fibers.

Tensile strength can be defined for liquids as well as solids. For example, when a tree draws water from its roots to its upper leaves by transpiration, the column of water is pulled upwards from the top by capillary action, and this force is transmitted down the column by its tensile strength. Air pressure from below also plays a small part in a tree's ability to draw up water, but this alone would only be sufficient to push the column of water to a height of about ten metres, and trees can grow much higher than that. (See also cavitation, which can be thought of as the consequence of water being "pulled too hard".)


Round bar tensile specimen after testing Typically, the testing involves taking a small sample with a fixed cross-section area, and then pulling it with a controlled, gradually increasing force until the sample changes shape or breaks. When testing metals, indentation hardness correlates linearly with tensile strength. This important relation permits economically important nondestructive testing of bulk metal deliveries with lightweight, even portable equipment, such as hand-held Rockwell hardness testers. [2]

Typical tensile strengths
Some typical tensile strengths of some materials: Yield strength (MPa) ? 250 448 690 1,650 26-33 12-43 520 130 Ultimate (MPa) strength Density (g/cm³) 1.3 7.8 7.58 7.8 7.8 7.8 7.8 0.95 0.91 8.19

Material first carbon nanotube ropes Structural steel ASTM A36 steel carbon steel 1090 Steel, API 5L X65[3] Steel, high strength alloy ASTM A514 Steel, prestressing strands Steel (AISI 1060 0.6% carbon) Piano wire High density polyethylene (HDPE) Polypropylene Stainless steel AISI 302 - Cold-rolled Cast iron 4.5% C, ASTM A-48

3,600 400 841 531 760 1,860[citation needed] 2,200-2,482[4] 37 19.7-80 860 200

Titanium alloy (6% Al, 4% V) 830 [5] Beryllium 99.9% Be 345 [6] Aluminium alloy 2014-T6 414 Aluminium alloy 6063-T6 Copper 99.9% Cu 70 Cupronickel 10% Ni, 1.6% Fe, 1% Mn, 130 balance Cu Brass 200+ Tungsten Glass E-Glass N/A S-Glass N/A [8] Basalt fiber N/A Marble N/A Concrete Carbon Fiber Human hair Spider silk (See note below) Silkworm silk Aramid (Kevlar or Twaron) UHMWPE UHMWPE fibers[9][10] (Dyneema or Spectra) Vectran Polybenzoxazole (Zylon[11]) Toray carbon fiber T1000G (T1000G[12]) Pine wood (parallel to grain) Bone (limb) Nylon, type 6/6 Rubber Boron Silicon, monocrystalline (m-Si) Silicon carbide (SiC) Sapphire (Al2 O3) Carbon nanotube (see note below) Carbon nanotube composites

900 448 483 248 220 350 550 1,510 33[7] 3,450 4,710 4,840 15 3(traction) 30(compression) 5,650 380 1,000 2,757 46 2,300-3,500 2,850-3,340 5,800 6,370 40 130 75 15 3,100 7,000 3,440 1,900 11,000-63,000 1,200[13]

4.51 1.84 2.8 2.63 8.92 8.94 5.3 19.25 2.53 2.57 2.48 2.7


1.75 1.3 1.3 1.44 0.97 0.97 1.56 1.80 1.6 1.15 2.46 2.33 3.9-4.1 0.0371.34 N/A

500 3,620 23

104-121 45 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

y y

Note: Multiwalled carbon nanotubes have the highest tensile strength of any material yet measured, with labs producing them at a tensile strength of 63 GPa[14], still well below their theoretical limit of 300 GPa[citation needed]. The first nanotube ropes (20 mm long) whose tensile strength was published (in 2000) had a strength of 3.6 GPa.[15] The density is different depending on the manufacturing method, and the lowest value is 0.037 or 0.55(solid)[16]. Note: many of the values depend on manufacturing process and purity/composition. Note: human hair strength varies by ethnicity and chemical treatments.


Note on spider silk strength: The strength of spider silk is highly variable. It depends on many factors including type of silk (every spider can produce several different types for different purposes), the particular species, the age of the silk, the temperature, the humidity, the rate at which stress is applied during testing, the length of time the stress is applied and the way the silk is collected (forced silking or natural spinning)[17]. The value shown in the table, 1000 MPa, is roughly representative of the results from a few studies involving several different species of spider however specific results varied greatly.[18] Young's Modulus (GPa) 70 130 79 211 16 170 107 83 186 47 120 411 105 Proof stress (MPa) 15-20 33 80-100 14-35 5,000-9,000 180 9-14 100-225 550 or yield Ultimate strength (MPa) 40-50 210 100 350 12 140-195 170 200 15-200 240-370 550-620 110-200

Elements in the annealed state Aluminium Copper Gold Iron Lead Nickel Silicon Silver Tantalum Tin Titanium Tungsten Zinc (wrought)

(Source: A.M. Howatson, P.G. Lund and J.D. Todd, "Engineering Tables and Data" p41)