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Ultimate tensile strength (UTS), often shortened to tensile strength (TS) or ultimate strength, 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.
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.
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.
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.
|Structural steel ASTM A36 steel||250||400||7.8|
|Mild steel 1090||248||841||7.58|
|Micro-Melt® 10 Tough Treated Tool Steel (AISI A11)||5171||5205||7.45|
|2800 Maraging steel||2617||2693||8.00|
|Sandvik Sanicro 36Mo logging cable Precision Wire||1758||2070||8.00|
|AISI 4130 Steel, water quenched 855°C (1570°F), 480°C (900°F) temper||951||1110||7.85|
|Titanium 11 (Ti-6Al-2Sn-1.5Zr-1Mo-0.35Bi-0.1Si), Aged||940||1040||4.50|
|Steel, API 5L X65||448||531||7.8|
|Steel, high strength alloy ASTM A514||690||760||7.8|
|High-density polyethylene (HDPE)||26-33||37||0.95|
|Stainless steel AISI 302 - Cold-rolled||520||860||8.19|
|Cast iron 4.5% C, ASTM A-48||130||200|
|"Liquidmetal" alloy||1723||550-1600||6.1|
|Beryllium 99.9% Be||345||448||1.84|
|Aluminium alloy 2014-T6||414||483||2.8|
|Polyester resin (unreinforced)||55|
|Polyester and Chopped Strand Mat Laminate 30% E-glass||100|
|S-Glass Epoxy composite||2358|
|Aluminium alloy 6063-T6||248||2.63|
|Copper 99.9% Cu||70||220||8.92|
|Cupronickel 10% Ni, 1.6% Fe, 1% Mn, balance Cu||130||350||8.94|
|E-Glass||N/A||1500 for laminates,|
3450 for fibers alone
|Carbon fiber||N/A||1600 for Laminate,|
4137 for fiber alone
|Carbon fiber (Toray T1000G)||6370 fibre alone||1.80|
|Spider silk (See note below)||1000||1.3|
|Darwin's bark spider silk||1652|
|Aramid (Kevlar or Twaron)||3620||3757||1.44|
|UHMWPE fibers (Dyneema or Spectra)||2300-3500||0.97|
|Pine wood (parallel to grain)||40|
|Nylon, type 6/6||45||75||1.15|
|Epoxy adhesive||-||12 - 30||-|
|Silicon, monocrystalline (m-Si)||N/A||7000||2.33|
|Silicon carbide (SiC)||N/A||3440|
|Ultra-pure silica glass fiber-optic strands||4100|
|Sapphire (Al2O3)||400 at 25*C, 275 at 500*C, 345 at 1000*C||1900||3.9-4.1|
|Boron Nitride Nanotube||N/A||33000||?|
|First carbon nanotube ropes||?||3600||1.3|
|Colossal carbon tube||N/A||7000||0.116|
|Carbon nanotube (see note below)||N/A||11000-63000||0.037-1.34|
|Carbon nanotube composites||N/A||1200||N/A|
|Iron (pure mono-crystal)||3||7.874|