Tensile strength

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Tensile strength measures the force required to pull something such as rope, wire, or a structural beam to the point where it breaks.

The tensile strength of a material is the maximum amount of tensile stress that it can take before failure, for example breaking.

There are three typical definitions of tensile strength:

  • Yield strength - The stress a material can withstand without permanent deformation. This is not a sharply defined point. Yield strength is the stress which will cause a permanent deformation of 0.2% of the original dimension.
  • Ultimate strength - The maximum stress a material can withstand.
  • Breaking strength - The stress coordinate on the stress-strain curve at the point of rupture.

Typical tensile strengths[change | change source]

Some typical tensile strengths of some materials:

Material Yield strength
(MPa)
Ultimate strength
(MPa)
Density
(g/cm³)
Structural steel ASTM A36 steel 250 400 7.8
Steel, API 5L X65 (Fikret Mert Veral) 448 531 7.8
Steel, high strength alloy ASTM A514 690 760 7.8
Steel, high tensile 1650 1860 7.8
Steel Wire     7.8
Steel, Piano wire c. 2000   7.8
High density polyethylene (HDPE) 26-33 37 0.95
Polypropylene 12-43 19.7-80 0.91
Stainless steel AISI 302 - Cold-rolled 520 860 8.03;
Cast iron 4.5% C, ASTM A-48 130 (??) 200 7.3;
Titanium Alloy (6% Al, 4% V) 830 900 4.51
Aluminum Alloy 2014-T6 400 455 2.7
Copper 99.9% Cu 70 220 8.92
Cupronickel 10% Ni, 1.6% Fe, 1% Mn, balance Cu 130 350 8.94
Brass   250  
Tungsten   1510 19.25
Glass (St Gobain "R") 4400 (3600 in composite)   2.53
Bamboo 142 265 .4
Marble N/A 15  
Concrete N/A 3  
Carbon Fiber N/A 5650 1.75
Spider silk 1150 (??) 1200  
Silkworm silk 500    
Kevlar 3620   1.44
Vectran   2850-3340  
Pine Wood (parallel to grain)   40  
Bone (limb)   130  
Nylon, type 6/6 45 75 1.15
Rubber - 15  
Boron N/A 3100 2.46
Silicon, monocrystalline (m-Si) N/A 7000 2.33
Silicon carbide (SiC) N/A 3440  
Sapphire (Al2O3) N/A 1900 3.9-4.1
Carbon nanotube (see note below) N/A 62000 1.34
  • 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, still well below their theoretical limit of 300 GPa. However as of 2004, no macroscopic object constructed of carbon nanotubes has had a tensile strength remotely approaching this figure, or substantially exceeding that of high-strength materials like Kevlar.
  • Note: many of the values depend on manufacturing process and purity/composition.
Elements in the annealed state Young's Modulus
(GPa)
Proof or yield stress
(MPa)
Ultimate strength
(MPa)
Aluminium 70 15-20 40-50
Copper 130 33 210
Gold 79   100
Iron 211 80-100 350
Lead 16   12
Nickel 170 14-35 140-195
Silicon 107 5000-9000  
Silver 83   170
Tantalum 186 180 200
Tin 47 9-14 15-200
Titanium 120 100-225 240-370
Tungsten 411 550 550-620
Zinc (wrought) 105   110-200

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

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