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Strength of Material

The ability of a material or member to withstand applied stress with out any failure is termed as its strength. Various types of stresses that may be applied can be shear, compressive o tensile. The subject of strength of a material also deals with the loads and forces acting on the materials and the type of deformation it undergoes. Stress can be defined as the induction of internal forces within the mechanical members of a system by an applied load or force. Strain can be defined as deformation of the material by strain. The strength of a material depends basically on three factors. These are stiffness, strength and stability. Stiffness is the deformation or elongation of the material, strength is the load carrying capacity and stability is the ability of the system to retain and maintain its initial configuration. Material yield strength is that point on the stress strain curve beyond which the deformations cannot be restored. This means that material cannot take its original shape. The point on the stress strain curve at which a fracture is produced in the material is the ultimate strength of the material. The strength of a material depends on its internal microstructure. If a material is subjected to engineering processes its internal structure can get altered. Strengthening materials that can alter the shape of the material are solid solution hardening, work hardening, grain boundary strengthening and precipitation hardening. Some amount of material does gets degenerated while the process of strengthening occurs. For example, grain body strengthening cause brittleness in the material, when its grain size gets decreased. The change in structure and looks of the material when the stress is applied is called deformation. It is measured and expressed by the deformation field of the material. Strain is used to express deformation in mathematical terms. It is also the deformation per unit length.

Strength can be measured in terms of tensile stress, shear stress and compressive stress. More practical applications of the subject of strength of materials are in the areas of calculation of stress of columns, shafts and beams and other structural material.

Loadings can also cause brittleness in the materials and can also cause cracking.

Loading is the application of load to the material. There are various types of loadings

1. Transverse Loading- In this type of loading, forces is applied perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the material. The member material can deflect or bend because of shear deformation which is produced by shear forces.

2. Axial Loading – The force is applied collinearly to the longitudinal axis of the member. It can shorten or stretch the material.

3. Torsional Loading- Single external couple or a couple or forces equal and opposite to each other are applied.

Terms and vocabulary related to strength and stress

Yield strength is lowest amount of stress that can produce a deformation in a material. Compressive strength is the highest amount of strain that when applied to a material can cause its ductile or brittle failure. Tensile strength is the maximum amount of tensile stress that can cause the brittleness or cracking of the material fatigue. Strength is used to measure the strength of the material undergoing cyclic loading. Impact strength is the measurement of stress level a material can undertake when a sudden amount of load is applied to it.


Elasticity is the ability of a material to take its original shape after the stress applied is released. In most of the material, the applied stress is directly proportional to the resultant strain and we get a straight line on the graph. Plasticity occurs when unrecoverable strain is applied. Fatigue failure occurs in machine parts when material is subjected to repeated loadings. The maximum shear stress theory says that a machine part will fail if the maximum stress applied exceeds the shear strength of the material.