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What Is Breaking Strength?

Breaking strength testing uses pulling forces, usually administered by a machine that has been specially calibrated, to test a material's strength.
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  • Written By: Alexis W.
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 23 August 2014
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Breaking strength is more commonly known as tensile strength. It is defined as the point at which certain materials will become deformed or break under a given load. The point at which the material comes to breaking strength is described as necking.

Necking occurs when a material is pushed to its breaking or tensile strength. Since the material is pushed to the brim, the cross-section start to contract significantly. In the world of mechanics, breaking strength is simply described as compressive strength's opposite.

The breaking or tensile strength of a given material is identified through tensile testing. During the procedure, information is recorded regarding the material’s stress when differing amounts of strain are applied. The readings are graphed and the point on the curve that is reached before the material starts to be strained indicates the material’s breaking strength or ultimate tensile strength. The numbers indicated by such tests indicate the maximum load that a material can support before it will break or become irreparable.

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Breaking strength or ultimate tensile strength is generally noted by noting the force a material can take per its unit area. The most common forms of measurement used to arrive at the tensile strength of materials is the pounds of force it can take for each square inch or the kilo/pounds it can take for each square inch. These measurements both are equal to 1,000 pounds or 453.59 kilograms per square inch. Out of convenience the most commonly used measurement is the kilo/pounds for each square inch, also known as KSI.

Breaking strength measurements are most often computed for brittle materials. Materials that are considered brittle include alloys, composite materials, ceramics, plastics, and wood. The tensile strength would be important for these materials because they are materials that can easily be deformed or broken. Although tensile strength can also be used in the case of those materials considered ductile materials, this is rarely the case since such materials tend to be less susceptible to breakage and it is less important to know the force that will damage them.

Testing to compute the breaking strength of a given piece of material is fairly simplistic in nature. A sample of the material is taken and then placed in a machine that grips the material. The machine then gradually applies force and a pulling motion begins; this pulling motion continues until the material becomes deformed to the point it is irreparable or until the piece of material breaks. The point before breakage or irreparable deformity becomes the information recorded as that specific type of material’s breaking strength.

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