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Introduction to materials: density
The study of materials is important to inform decisions about
which materials to use for different things.

It is important to consider properties of materials such as


density, and how materials react when forces are applied.

mass m
density = = units: kg m3
volume V

The image shows equal


volumes of brass, balsa
wood and polystyrene. How
would their densities and
masses compare? What
could they be used for?

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Finding the density

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Calculating the density

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Introduction to springs
The behaviour of springs is important since they have many
uses, from car and bike suspension to clock-making.

It is important to know how springs will react when forces


are applied.

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Tensile and compressive forces

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Restoring force

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Hookes law and the force constant
Hookes law states that the extension of a spring, x, is
directly proportional to the force applied to it, F.

F x or F = kx where k is a constant.

k is called the force constant or the spring constant, or


sometimes the stiffness constant. The units of k are Nm-1.

original length x
F

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Finding the force constant

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Calculating the force constant

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Elastic limit for springs
If a spring is stretched far enough, it reaches the limit of
proportionality and then the elastic limit.

The limit of proportionality is a point beyond which


behaviour no longer conforms to Hookes law.

The elastic limit is a point


beyond which the spring
will no longer return to its
original shape when the
force

force is removed.

Elasticity is the ability to


regain shape after deforming
extension forces are removed.
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What is elastic potential energy?
A stretched or compressed material, like
the spring in a jack-in-the-box when the lid
is closed, has elastic potential energy
(EPE) or elastic strain energy stored in it.

EPE is the energy stored in a body


due to a load causing a deformation.

According to the principal of conservation of energy, no


energy is created or destroyed when a spring is
compressed. Therefore the work done in compressing the
spring is equal to the EPE stored in it, plus any energy
released as heat and sound.

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Calculating elastic potential energy
Work is done when a
spring is stretched; for
example, in stretching
chest expanders.
If the conversion of mechanical energy into thermal energy is
ignored, work done is equal to EPE stored in the springs.

EPE = work done


= average force distance moved
= Fd

For a spring: EPE = work done


= average force extension
EPE = Fx
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Work done

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Match up the equations

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Stretching wires the variables
When using wires and
other materials, it is
important to know how
they will stretch if a
force acts on them.

The following properties


must be considered:

the length (L)

the cross-sectional area (a)

the Young modulus (modulus of elasticity) of the material.

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What is the Young modulus?

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Young modulus calculation: example

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Stressstrain graphs

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Finding the Young modulus from graphs
Which material, A or B, has the larger Young modulus and
how can you tell?
tensile stress (Nm2)

A
B

tensile strain
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Stiffness, strength and toughness
Stiffness, strength and toughness are all different properties
of materials.

Stiffness reflects how difficult it is to change the shape


or size of a material. Greater stiffness means a greater
value for the force constant, k, and a steeper gradient of
stressstrain curve (representing the Young modulus).

Strength refers to the ultimate tensile stress (UTS).


A greater UTS means a stronger material.

Toughness is a measure of the energy needed to


break a material. Toughness is equal to the area
under the stressstrain curve.

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More about properties of materials
A strong material may also be brittle, though at first this
seems counterintuitive.

tensile stress (Nm2)


high UTS
A strong but brittle material
would have a linear stressstrain breaking
curve, i.e. would break without point
any plastic deformation taking
place. However, it would only
break under high stress, so the
end-point of the line would be at
a high y-value on the graph. tensile strain
It is also possible for a plastic material to be tough. How
would such a material behave under tensile testing and what
would its stressstrain curve look like?

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Investigating stressstrain graphs

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Different types of material

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Measuring the Young modulus
The Young modulus of a wire can be measured in the
classroom without a tensile testing machine, using the set-up
below. How could the equipment could be used to find the
Young modulus? Remember the equation:
stress FL
Young modulus = =
strain Ax

length of wire under test

ruler marker on wire

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Young modulus calculations

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Glossary

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Whats the keyword?

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Multiple-choice quiz

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