Breaking Strength

Definition - What does Breaking Strength mean?

Breaking strength is the ability of a material to withstand a pulling or tensile force. It is customarily measured in units of force per cross-sectional area. This is an important concept in engineering, especially in the fields of material science, mechanical engineering and structural engineering.

The ability to resist breaking under tensile stress is one of the most important and widely measured properties of materials used in structural applications. Breaking or tensile strength is more important for brittle materials than ductile materials.

Breaking strength is also known as tensile strength or ultimate tensile strength.

Corrosionpedia explains Breaking Strength

The breaking strength of a material is the maximum amount of tensile stress that the material can withstand before failure, such as breaking or permanent deformation. Tensile strength specifies the point when a material goes from elastic to plastic deformation. It is expressed as the minimum tensile stress (force per unit area) needed to split the material apart.

For example, if a metal rod one square inch in cross section can withstand a pulling force of 1,000 pounds but breaks if more force is applied, the metal has a breaking strength of 1,000 pounds per square inch. The breaking strength for structural steel is 400 megapascals (MPa) and for carbon steel is 841MPa. Breaking strength is different for different densities of steel.

Breaking strength is a limit state of tensile stress that leads to tensile failure in one of two manners:

  • Ductile failure - Yield as the first stage of failure, some hardening in the second stage and breakage after a possible "neck" formation
  • Brittle failure - Sudden breaking in two or more pieces at a low stress state

Breaking strength testing for metals will determine how much a particular alloy will elongate before reaching its ultimate tensile strength and how much load a particular piece of metal can accommodate before it loses structural integrity. Therefore, it is a very important concept in material science and for safety considerations.

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