UNIAXIAL TENSION TEST: THE MOTHER OF ALL MECHANICAL TESTS
In engineering design and analysis, stress-strain relationships are needed to establish and verify the load-deflection properties of an engineering component under service loads and boundary conditions. From the tensile testing carried out to evaluate materials, various mechanical properties such as the yield strength, Young’s modulus, Poisson’s ratio etc. are obtained. Strain hardening and true stress-strain etc. values can be calculated by means of conversion using equations from the stress-strain curve. The uniaxial tensile test is the primary method to evaluate the material and obtain the parameters. Uniaxial tension test is also the primary test method used for quality control and certification of virtually all ferrous and non-ferrous type of materials.
Standards for tensile testing were amongst the first published and the development of such standards continues today through the ASTM and ISO organizations. Reliable tensile data, which is now generated largely by computer controlled testing machines, is also crucial in the design of safety critical components automotive, aerospace and biomedical applications.
Tensile testing is also important for polymeric materials as they depend strongly on the strain rate because of their viscoelastic nature. Polymers exhibit time dependent deformation like relaxation and creep under service applications. Polymer properties also show a higher temperature dependency than metals. Multiple temperatures and strain rates are generally used to fully characterize polymer materials.
Figure 1: Uniaxial Tension Test on a Material Sample
Figure 2 shows sample uniaxial stress-strain results from testing a metal specimen. The X axis depicts the strain and Y axis the stress. The stress (σ) is calculated from;
σ = Load / Area of the material sample ……………………………………..(1)
The strain(ε) is calculated from;
ε = δl (change in length) / l1 (Initial length) ……………………………………..(2)
The slope of the initial linear portion of the curve (E) is the Young’s modulus and given by;
E = (σ2- σ1) / (ε2- ε1) ……………………………………..(3)
Point A in the graph shows the proportional limit of the material beyond which the material starts to yield. When this point is not clearly visible or decipherable in a test, the off yield strength at B is taken by offsetting the strain (F-G) by 0.2 % of the gauge length. Similarly, extension by yield under load (EUL) is calculated by offsetting the strain 0.5% of the gauge length. The region between points A and B on the graph is also purely elastic, with full recovery on the unloading of the metal, but it is not essentially linear.
Figure 2: Sample Uniaxial Stress-Strain Results from a Metal Specimen
TRUE STRESS-STRAIN CURVE:
Figure 2 shows the engineering stress-strain curve where the values of stress beyond the proportional limit do not give the true picture of stress in the sample as the cross-sectional area of the sample is assumed to be constant. The engineering stress-strain values can be converted to true stress-strain values by the following relation;
σt = σe (1 + εe) = σeλ , ……………………………………..(4)
εt = ln (1 +εe) = ln λ, where λ = initial length / final length …………………………………..(5)
Figure 3: Sample Uniaxial Stress-Strain Results for a Polymeric Rubber Material
Figure 3 shows typical uniaxial stress-strain results from a test on a 40 durometer rubber material. Unlike the results for the metal specimen the elastomer test results do not have or exhibit a yield limit. The material extends in the classical ‘S’ shape and results in a fracture at the end of the tests. Polymeric rubber materials exhibit the following characteristics;
• The load-deflection behavior of an elastomer is markedly non-linear.
• The recoverable strains can be as high 700 %.
• The stress-strain characteristics are highly dependent on temperature and rate effects are highly pronounced.
• Nearly incompressible behavior.
• Viscoelastic effects are significant.
Typical test results for rubber materials show the values of modulus at 100%, 200% and 300%. Modulus represents stress in such results.
SPECIFIC MECHANICAL ISSUES IN TESTING:
1. Strain Rate
3. Alignment and Gripping
4. Testing Machine Frame Compliance
5. Young’s Modulus Measurement
6. Specimen Geometry
Strain rate range of different material characterization test methods
1) Quasi-static tension tests 10-5 to 10-1 S-1
2) Dynamic tension tests 10-1 to 102 S-1
3) Very High Strain Rate or Impact tests 102 to 104 S-1
A fundamental difference between a high strain rate tension test and a quasi-static tension test is that inertia and wave propagation effects are present at high rates. An analysis of results from a high strain rate test thus requires consideration of the effect of stress wave propagation along the length of the test specimen in order to determine how fast a uniaxial test can be run to obtain valid stress-strain data.
IMPORTANCE OF THE UNIAXIAL TENSION TEST:
At the basic level apart from giving us an understanding about the ultimate strain and stress capabilities of the material, tensile tests provide us with information about the factor of safety that needs to be built-in the products using these materials.
1) Fatigue life of engineering materials can be calculated from tensile tests carried out on notched and unnotched specimens.
2) Aging and other environmental effects can be incorporated in the test procedure to characterize the material, as well as predict service life using techniques like Arrhenius equation.
3) Endurance limits in design calculations are calculated from the results obtained from uniaxial tension tests.
4) In manufacturing of rubber materials and products, it is used to determine batch quality and maintain consistency in material and product manufacturing.
5) Electromechanical servo based miniature tensile testing machines can be developed to study material samples of smaller size.
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