Ultimate tensile strength

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Ultimate tensile strength (UTS), often shortened to tensile strength (TS) or ultimate strength,[1][2] is the maximum stress that a material can withstand while being stretched or pulled before failing or breaking. Tensile strength is the opposite of compressive strength and the values can be quite different.

Some materials will break sharply, without deforming, in what is called a brittle failure. Others, which are more ductile, including most metals, will stretch some - and for rods or bars, shrink or neck at the point of maximum stress as that area is stretched out.

The UTS is usually found by performing a tensile test and recording the stress versus strain; the highest point of the stress-strain curve is the UTS. It is an intensive property; therefore its value does not depend on the size of the test specimen. However, it is dependent on other factors, such as the preparation of the specimen, the presence or otherwise of surface defects, and the temperature of the test environment and material.

Tensile strengths are rarely used in the design of ductile members, but they are important in brittle members. They are tabulated for common materials such as alloys, composite materials, ceramics, plastics, and wood.

Tensile strength is defined as a stress, which is measured as force per unit area. For some non-homogeneous materials (or for assembled components) it can be reported just as a force or as a force per unit width. In the SI system, the unit is the pascal (Pa) (or a multiple thereof, often megapascals (MPa), using the mega- prefix); or, equivalently to pascals, newtons per square metre (N/m²). The customary unit is pounds-force per square inch (lbf/in² or psi), or kilo-pounds per square inch (ksi, or sometimes kpsi), which is equal to 1000 psi; kilo-pounds per square inch are commonly used for convenience when measuring tensile strengths.



Ductile materials

Stress vs. Strain curve typical of aluminum
1. Ultimate strength
2. Yield strength
3. Proportional limit stress
4. Fracture
5. Offset strain (typically 0.2%)
Stress vs. strain curve typical of structural steel
1. Ultimate strength
2. Yield strength
3. Fracture
4. Strain hardening region
5. Necking region
A: Engineering stress
B: True stress

Many materials display linear elastic behavior, defined by a linear stress-strain relationship, as shown in the figure up to point 2, in which deformations are completely recoverable upon removal of the load; that is, a specimen loaded elastically in tension will elongate, but will return to its original shape and size when unloaded. Beyond this linear region, for ductile materials, such as steel, deformations are plastic. A plastically deformed specimen will not return to its original size and shape when unloaded. Note that there will be elastic recovery of a portion of the deformation. For many applications, plastic deformation is unacceptable, and is used as the design limitation.

After the yield point, ductile metals will undergo a period of strain hardening, in which the stress increases again with increasing strain, and they begin to neck, as the cross-sectional area of the specimen decreases due to plastic flow. In a sufficiently ductile material, when necking becomes substantial, it causes a reversal of the engineering stress-strain curve (curve A); this is because the engineering stress is calculated assuming the original cross-sectional area before necking. The reversal point is the maximum stress on the engineering stress-strain curve, and the engineering stress coordinate of this point is the tensile ultimate strength, given by point 1.

The UTS is not used in the design of ductile static members because design practices dictate the use of the yield stress. It is, however, used for quality control, because of the ease of testing. It is also used to roughly determine material types for unknown samples.[3]

The UTS is a common engineering parameter when designing brittle members, because there is no yield point.[3]


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.[4]

It should be noted that while most metal forms, like sheet, bar, tube and wire can exhibit the test UTS, fibers, such as carbon fibers, being only 2/10,000th of an inch in diameter, must be made into composites to create useful real-world forms. As the datasheet on T1000G below indicates, while the UTS of the fiber is very high at 6,370MPa, the UTS of a derived composite is 3,040MPa - less than half the strength of the fiber.[5]

Typical tensile strengths

Typical tensile strengths of some materials
MaterialYield strength
Ultimate strength
Structural steel ASTM A36 steel2504007.8
Mild steel 10902488417.58
Human skin15202.2
Micro-Melt® 10 Tough Treated Tool Steel (AISI A11)[6]517152057.45
2800 Maraging steel[7]261726938.00
AerMet 340[8]216024307.86
Sandvik Sanicro 36Mo logging cable Precision Wire[9]175820708.00
AISI 4130 Steel, water quenched 855°C (1570°F), 480°C (900°F) temper[10]95111107.85
Titanium 11 (Ti-6Al-2Sn-1.5Zr-1Mo-0.35Bi-0.1Si), Aged[11]94010404.50
Steel, API 5L X65[12]4485317.8
Steel, high strength alloy ASTM A5146907607.8
High-density polyethylene (HDPE)26-33370.95
Stainless steel AISI 302 - Cold-rolled5208608.19
Cast iron 4.5% C, ASTM A-48130200 
"Liquidmetal" alloy[citation needed]1723550-16006.1
Beryllium[13] 99.9% Be3454481.84
Aluminium alloy[14] 2014-T64144832.8
Polyester resin (unreinforced)[15]55  
Polyester and Chopped Strand Mat Laminate 30% E-glass[15]100  
S-Glass Epoxy composite[16]2358  
Aluminium alloy 6063-T6 2482.63
Copper 99.9% Cu702208.92
Cupronickel 10% Ni, 1.6% Fe, 1% Mn, balance Cu1303508.94
Brass200 +5505.3
Tungsten 151019.25
Glass 33[17]2.53
E-GlassN/A1500 for laminates,
3450 for fibers alone
Basalt fiber[18]N/A48402.7
Carbon fiberN/A1600 for Laminate,
4137 for fiber alone
Carbon fiber (Toray T1000G)[19] 6370 fibre alone1.80
Human hair 380 
Bamboo 350-5000.4
Spider silk (See note below)10001.3
Darwin's bark spider silk[20]1652
Silkworm silk500 1.3
Aramid (Kevlar or Twaron)362037571.44
UHMWPE fibers[22][23] (Dyneema or Spectra)2300-35000.97
Vectran 2850-3340 
Polybenzoxazole (Zylon)[24] 27001.56
Pine wood (parallel to grain) 40 
Bone (limb)104-1211301.6
Nylon, type 6/645751.15
Epoxy adhesive-12 - 30[25]-
Silicon, monocrystalline (m-Si)N/A70002.33
Silicon carbide (SiC)N/A3440 
Ultra-pure silica glass fiber-optic strands[26]4100
Sapphire (Al2O3)400 at 25*C, 275 at 500*C, 345 at 1000*C19003.9-4.1
Boron Nitride NanotubeN/A33000 ?
First carbon nanotube ropes ?36001.3
Colossal carbon tubeN/A70000.116
Carbon nanotube (see note below)N/A11000-630000.037-1.34
Carbon nanotube compositesN/A1200[28]N/A
Iron (pure mono-crystal)37.874
^a Many of the values depend on manufacturing process and purity/composition.
^b Multiwalled carbon nanotubes have the highest tensile strength of any material yet measured, with labs producing them at a tensile strength of 63 GPa,[29] still well below their theoretical limit of 300 GPa[citation needed]. The first nanotube ropes (20mm in length) whose tensile strength was published (in 2000) had a strength of 3.6 GPa.[30] The density depends on the manufacturing method, and the lowest value is 0.037 or 0.55 (solid).[31]
^c The strength of spider silk is highly variable. It depends on many factors including kind of silk (Every spider can produce several for sundry purposes.), species, age of silk, temperature, humidity, swiftness at which stress is applied during testing, length stress is applied, and way the silk is gathered (forced silking or natural spinning).[32] 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.[33]
^d Human hair strength varies by ethnicity and chemical treatments.
Typical properties for annealed elements[34]
Offset or
yield strength
zinc (wrought)105110–200

See also


  1. ^ Degarmo, Black & Kohser 2003, p. 31
  2. ^ Smith & Hashemi 2006, p. 223
  3. ^ a b NDT-ed.org
  4. ^ E.J. Pavlina and C.J. Van Tyne, "Correlation of Yield Strength and Tensile Strength with Hardness for Steels", Journal of Materials Engineering and Performance, 17:6 (December 2008)
  5. ^ http://www.carbonfibertubeshop.com/tube%20properties.html
  6. ^ http://www.matweb.com/search/datasheet.aspx?matguid=638937fc52ca4683bc0c3f18f54f5a24
  7. ^ http://www.matweb.com/search/DataSheet.aspx?MatGUID=de22e04486ff4598a26027abc48e6382
  8. ^ http://www.matweb.com/search/DataSheet.aspx?MatGUID=64583c8ce6724989a11e1ef598d3273d
  9. ^ http://www.matweb.com/search/DataSheet.aspx?MatGUID=c140b20b165941c7a948e782eeced4ea
  10. ^ http://www.matweb.com/search/datasheet.aspx?MatGUID=722e053100354c02a6d450d5d7646d82
  11. ^ http://www.matweb.com/search/DataSheet.aspx?MatGUID=b141bfe746f142638fdc30ac59aa306e
  12. ^ USStubular.com
  13. ^ Beryllium I-220H Grade 2
  14. ^ Aluminum 2014-T6
  15. ^ a b East Coast Fibreglass Supplies: Guide to Glass Reinforced Plastics
  16. ^ Tube Properties
  17. ^ Material Properties Data: Soda-Lime Glass
  18. ^ "Basalt Continuous Fibers". http://www.albarrie.com/techfabrics/continuousfiber.aspx. Retrieved 2009-12-29.
  19. ^ Toray Properties Document
  20. ^ I Agnarsson, M Kuntner, T A Blackledge, Bioprospecting Finds the Toughest Biological Material: Extraordinary Silk from a Giant Riverine Orb Spider
  21. ^ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716092/table/T3/
  22. ^ Tensile and creep properties of ultra high molecular weight PE fibres
  23. ^ Mechanical Properties Data
  24. ^ Zylon Properties Document
  25. ^ Uhu endfest 300 epoxy: Strength over setting temperature
  26. ^ Fols.org
  27. ^ Lee, C. et al. (2008). "Measurement of the Elastic Properties and Intrinsic Strength of Monolayer Graphene". Science 321 (5887): 385–8. Bibcode 2008Sci...321..385L. doi:10.1126/science.1157996. PMID 18635798. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/321/5887/385. Lay summary.
  28. ^ IOP.org Z. Wang, P. Ciselli and T. Peijs, Nanotechnology 18, 455709, 2007.
  29. ^ Yu, Min-Feng; Lourie, O; Dyer, MJ; Moloni, K; Kelly, TF; Ruoff, RS (2000). "Strength and Breaking Mechanism of Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes Under Tensile Load". Science 287 (5453): 637–640. Bibcode 2000Sci...287..637Y. doi:10.1126/science.287.5453.637. PMID 10649994.
  30. ^ F. Li, H. M. Cheng, S. Bai, G. Su, and M. S. Dresselhaus, "Tensile strength of single-walled carbon nanotubes directly measured from their macroscopic ropes". doi:10.1063/1.1324984
  31. ^ K.Hata. "From Highly Efficient Impurity-Free CNT Synthesis to DWNT forests, CNTsolids and Super-Capacitors" (PDF). http://nanocarbon.jp/english/research/image/review.pdf.
  32. ^ Elices, et al.. "Finding Inspiration in Argiope Trifasciata Spider Silk Fibers". JOM. http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/0502/Elices-0502.html. Retrieved 2009-01-23.
  33. ^ Blackledge, et al.. "Quasistatic and continuous dynamic characterization of the mechanical properties of silk from the cobweb of the black widow spider Latrodectus hesperus". The Company of Biologists. http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/content/full/208/10/1937. Retrieved 2009-01-23.
  34. ^ A.M. Howatson, P.G. Lund, and J.D. Todd, Engineering Tables and Data, p. 41

Further reading