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Tensile Strength

What is the Tensile Strength?

The tensile strength Rm (also tearing strength) is a material characteristic value for the evaluation of strength behavior. The tensile strength is the maximum mechanical tensile stress with which a specimen can be loaded. If the tensile strength is exceeded, the material fails: the absorption of forces decreases until the material specimen ultimately tears. The material however undergoes plastic deformation (residual) before reaching the actual tensile strength value.

The tensile strength Rm is determined with a tensile test (e.g. in accordance with the ISO 6892 series of standards (for metallic materials), or the ISO 527 series of standards (for plastics and composites)). 
It is calculated from the maximum achieved tensile force Fm and the specimen cross-section surface at the start of the test:
Tensile strength Rm = maximum tensile force Fm / specimen cross-section surface S0

The tensile strength is specified in MPa (megapascal) or N/mm². 

In the stress-strain diagram (also stress-strain curve), the tensile stress of the specimen is plotted over its relative change in length in the tensile test.

This curve can be used to determine the different characteristic values for the material to be tested; for example, the elastic behavior or the tensile strength. In the stress-strain diagram, the tensile strength is the maximum stress value reached in the tensile test after renewed increase of the tensile stress.

Tensile Strength for Different Materials

The image on the right shows examples of different materials with their various curves and tensile strengths Rm in a stress-strain diagram.

The Tensile Strength with Different Levels of Material Hardening

For metallic materials with a pronounced yield point the maximum tensile force is defined as the highest reached force after the upper yield strength. The maximum tensile force after exceeding the yield strength can also lie below the yield point for weakly work-hardened materials, therefore the tensile strength in this case is lower than the value for the upper yield strength.

The stress strain curve image to the right shows a curve with a high level of work-hardening (1) and with a very low level of work-hardening (2) after the yield point.

For plastics with yield point and subsequent stress, on the other hand, the tensile strength corresponds to the stress at the yield point.

Additional Characteristic Values for the Evaluation of Strength Properties

For the evaluation of strength properties, upper and lower yield points, as well as breaking strength or tear strength are determined in addition to the tensile strength.

Yield point is generally used to describe the stress at the transition from elastic to plastic deformation. It is the generic term for elastic limit, upper and lower yield strength (tensile test), compressive yield strength (compression test), flexural yield strength (flexure test) or torsional yield strength (torsion test).

Offset yield points are stresses that already include a certain residual or total elongation. They are used with metallic materials to mark the continuous transition from the elastic to the plastic range.

The term yield point is commonly used in rheology and describes the stress value from which the material starts to flow (especially with plastics). The flow is characterized by the fact that plastic, that is irreversible, deformation of the material occurs when the yield point is exceeded.

In many materials, after the maximum force Fm has been reached, the force and thereby the nominal tensile stress decrease with increasing elongation, until the specimen breaks or tears. The breaking force related to the initial cross sectional area is also called breaking strength or tear strength. It is an important parameter especially for plastics. In the case of brittle metallic materials, elastomers and tough plastics without yield point, the tear strength generally corresponds to the tensile strength.

Example Values for the Tensile Strength of Metallic Materials

Material mane Material No.  Old designation  Rm Rp0.2
S235JR  1.0037 St37-2 360  235
S275JR  1.0044 St44-2 430 275
S355J2G3  1.0570 St52 -3N 510  355
C22E  1.1151 Ck22  500  340
28Mn6  1.1170 28Mn6  800  590
C60E  1.1221   850  580
X20Cr13  1.4021   750  550
X17CrNi16-2 1.4057   750  550
X5CrNi18-10 1.4301 V2A  520  210
X2CrNiMo17-12-2 1.4404 V4A  520  220
X2CrNiMoN17-13-3 1.4429   580  295
30CrNiMo8  1.6580   1250  1050
34CrMo4  1.7220 34CrMo4  1,000  800
42CrMo4  1.7225   1100  900
S420N  1.8902 StE420 520  420

Additional Information on Tensile Tests

Yield point

In tensile testing the yield point is determined as the stress up to which no permanent plastic deformation occurs in a material.
to Yield point

Tensile Test

The tensile test is used to characterize the strength and deformation behavior under tensile load.
to Tensile Test
Testing on metals with ZwickRoell

Tensile test ISO 6892-1

Description of tensile testing on metals, ISO 6892 and ASTM E8.
to Tensile test ISO 6892-1
Tensile test plastics - ISO 527-1; ISO 527-2; ASTM D638

Tensile Test

ISO 527-1, ISO 527-2, ASTM D638
Tensile test on plastic molding compounds: ISO 527-1/-2 and ASTM D638: Tensile stress, strain, tensile modulus, yield point, point of break, Poisson's ratio Find out everything regarding the purpose of the test and the required product portfolio.
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Testing Machines for Determination of the Tensile Strength