Tensile strength

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Tensile strength is a measurement of 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.

Typical tensile strengths[change | change source]

Some typical tensile strengths of some materials:

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
Maraging_Steel, Grade 350 2400 2500 8.1
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
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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