Shear Strength

Last Updated: August 28, 2019

Definition - What does Shear Strength mean?

Shear strength is a material's ability to resist forces that can cause the internal structure of the material to slide against itself. Adhesives tend to have high shear strength.

In engineering, shear strength is the strength of a material or component against the type of yield or structural failure where the material or component fails in shear. The shear strength is the load that an object is able to withstand in a direction parallel to the face of the material, as opposed to perpendicular to the surface.

shear strength

In structural and mechanical engineering, the shear strength of a component is vital for designing the dimensions and materials to be used for the manufacture/construction of the component (such as beams, plates, or bolts).

Corrosionpedia explains Shear Strength

Shear strength is the maximum shear stress that a material can withstand without rupture. It's the maximum load required to cut off a specimen in such a way that the resulting pieces are entirely clear of each other. It's thus the definitive strength of a material exposed to shear loading. This is experienced just before a material ruptures.

Shear strength can be determined in a torsion test where it's equal to torsional strength. It's reported in pounds per square inch, based on the area of the sheared edge. The shear strength of a structural adhesive is the maximum shear stress in the adhesive prior to failure under torsional loading.

The shear strength of steel depends on the type of steel it is. In general, ductile materials (such as aluminum) fail in shear, whereas brittle materials (such as cast iron) fail in tension.

It's important to understand the amount of weight (or load) that a structure can support. It is especially important to understand the forces that are applied to a structure in different directions. So knowing what shear strength really means is important and can be used:

  • In the design of foundations the evaluation of bearing capacity is dependent on the shear strength.
  • For the design of embankments for dams, roads, pavements, excavations, levees, etc. The analysis of the stability of the slope is done using shear strength.
  • In the design of earth-retaining structures like retaining walls, sheet pile coffer dams, bulkheads and other underground structures, etc.
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