STRUCTURAL STEEL TENSION TEST BASICS AND TUTORIALS

STRUCTURAL STEEL TENSION TEST BASIC INFORMATION
What Is Structural Steel Tension Test?


The tension test (ASTM E8) on steel is performed to determine the yield strength, yield point, ultimate (tensile) strength, elongation, and reduction of area. Typically, the test is performed at temperatures between 10°C and 35°C (50°F to 95°F).

The test specimen can be either full sized or machined into a shape, as prescribed in the product specifications for the material being tested. It is desirable to use a small cross-sectional area at the center portion of the specimen to ensure fracture within the gauge length.

Several cross-sectional shapes are permitted, such as round and rectangular, as shown in Figure 3.15. Plate, sheet, round rod, wire, and tube specimens may be used. A 12.5 (1/2 in.) diameter round specimen is used in many cases. The gauge length over which the elongation is measured typically is four times the diameter for most round-rod specimens.


Various types of gripping devices may be used to hold the specimen, depending on its shape. In all cases, the axis of the test specimen should be placed at the center of the testing machine head to ensure axial tensile stresses within the gauge length without bending.

An extensometer with a dial gauge or an LVDT is used to measure the deformation of the entire gauge length. The test is performed by applying an axial load to the specimen at a specified rate.

Mild steel has a unique stress–strain relation. As the stress is increased beyond the proportion limit, the steel will yield, at which time the strain will increase without an increase in stress (actually the stress will slightly decrease). As tension increases past the yield point, strain increases following a nonlinear relation up to the point of failure.


Note that the decrease in stress after the peak does not mean a decrease in strength. In fact, the actual stress continues to increase until failure. The reason for the apparent decrease is that a neck is formed in the steel specimen, causing an appreciable decrease in the cross-sectional area.

The traditional, or engineering, way of calculating the stress and strain uses the original cross-sectional area and gauge length. If the stress and stains are calculated based on the instantaneous cross-sectional area and gauge length, a true stress–strain curve is obtained, which is different than the engineering stress–strain curve.

The true stress is larger than the engineering stress, because of the reduced cross-sectional area at the neck. Also, the true strain is larger than the engineering strain, since the increase in length at the vicinity of the neck is much larger than the increase in length outside of the neck.

The specimen experiences the largest deformation (contraction of the cross-sectional area and increase in length) at the regions closest to the neck, due to the nonuniform distribution of the deformation. The large increase in length at the neck increases the true strain to a large extent because the definition of true strain utilizes a ratio of the change in length in an infinitesimal gauge length.

By decreasing the gauge length toward an infinitesimal size and increasing the length due to localization in the neck, the numerator of an expression is increased while the denominator stays small, resulting in a significant increase in the ratio of the two numbers.

Note that when calculating the true strain, a small gauge length should be used at the neck, since the properties of the material (such as the cross section) at the neck represent the true material properties. For various practical applications, however, the engineering stresses and strains are used, rather than the true stresses and strains.

Different carbon-content steels have different stress–strain relations. Increasing the carbon content in the steel increases the yield stress and reduces the ductility. Below shows the tension stress–strain diagram for hot-rolled steel bars containing carbons from 0.19% to 0.90%.


Increasing the carbon content from 0.19% to 0.90% increases the yield stress from 280 MPa to 620 MPa (40 ksi to 90 ksi). Also, this increase in carbon content decreases the fracture strain from about 0.27 m/m to 0.09 m/m. Note that the increase in carbon content does not change the modulus of elasticity.


Steel is generally assumed to be a homogeneous and isotropic material. However, in the production of structural members, the final shape may be obtained by cold rolling.

This essentially causes the steel to undergo plastic deformations, with the degree of deformation varying throughout the member. Plastic deformation causes an increase in yield strength and a reduction in ductility.

This figure demonstrates that the measured properties vary, depending on the orientation of the sample relative to the axis of rolling (Hassett, 2003). Thus, it is necessary to specify how the sample is collected when evaluating the mechanical properties of steel.


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