Tension Force

Published: | Updated: September 2, 2020

Definition - What does Tension Force mean?

A tension force occurs when a load is applied at one or more ends of a material in a direction away from the material. A tension force is often explained as a "pulling" force. The load being placed upon the material must be applied axially for it to be considered a tension force.

The tension forces a component or structure are exposed to is a major consideration when selecting materials.

Corrosionpedia explains Tension Force

Tension force is one of the most common forces. As a result of this, many materials are specified by what is known as their tensile strength. The tensile strength helps users understand the amount of tension force a material will be able to withstand. From what is known as the yield tensile strength, the amount of tension force that will cause a material to plastically deform can be calculated. From the ultimate tensile strength, it can be determined at what tension force a material failure will occur.

Tension forces are abundant in many different applications. One example of a tension force is a seat belt clip in a car upon impact. The seat belt clip must be able to withstand the force of a body being propelled forward during a traffic accident. A less acute instance of a tension force occurs in a suspension bridge that constantly undergoes the onboarding and offloading of cars. If the cable material does not have an adequate tensile strength, then bridge failure could occur.

There is no one formula to calculate the tension force in all circumstances. Often, Newton's second law is used to calculate the normal force:


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