Figure 1-1. - Stress applied to a material.
Very rarely do Steelworkers work with elements in their pure state. We primarily work with alloys and have to understand their characteristics. The characteristics of elements and alloys are explained in terms of physical, chemical, electrical, and mechanical properties. Physical properties relate to color, density, weight, and heat conductivity. Chemical properties involve the behavior of the metal when placed in contact with the atmosphere, salt water, or other substances. Electrical properties encompass the electrical conductivity, resistance, and magnetic qualities of the metal. The mechanical properties relate to load-carrying ability, wear resistance, hardness, and elasticity.
When selecting stock for a job, your main concern is the mechanical properties of the metal. The various properties of metals and alloys were determined in the laboratories of manufacturers and by various societies interested in metallurgical development. Charts presenting the properties of a particular metal or alloy are available in many commercially published reference books. The charts provide information on the melting point, tensile strength, electrical conductivity, magnetic properties, and other properties of a particular metal or alloy. Simple tests can be conducted to determine some of the properties of a metal; however, we normally use a metal test only as an aid for identifying apiece of stock. Some of these methods of testing are discussed later in this chapter.
Strength, hardness, toughness, elasticity, plasticity, brittleness, and ductility and malleability are mechanical properties used as measurements of how metals behave under a load. These properties are described in terms of the types of force or stress that the metal must withstand and how these are resisted. Common types of stress are compression, tension, shear, torsion, impact, 1-2 or a combination of these stresses, such as fatigue. (See fig. 1-1.)
Compression stresses develop within a material when forces compress or crush the material. A column that supports an overhead beam is in compression, and the internal stresses that develop within the column are compression.
Tension (or tensile) stresses develop when a material is subject to a pulling load; for example, when using a wire rope to lift a load or when using it as a guy to anchor an antenna. "Tensile strength" is defined as resistance to longitudinal stress or pull and can be measured in pounds per square inch of cross section. Shearing stresses occur within a material when external forces are applied along parallel lines in opposite directions. Shearing forces can separate material by sliding part of it in one direction and the rest in the opposite direction.
Some materials are equally strong in compression, tension, and shear. However, many materials show marked differences; for example, cured concrete has a maximum strength of 2,000 psi in compression, but only 400 psi in tension. Carbon steel has a maximum strength of 56,000 psi in tension and compression but a maximum shear strength of only 42,000 psi; therefore, when dealing with maximum strength, you should always state the type of loading.
A material that is stressed repeatedly usually fails at a point considerably below its maximum strength in tension, compression, or shear. For example, a thin steel rod can be broken by hand by bending it back and forth several times in the same place; however, if the same force is applied in a steady motion (not bent back and forth), the rod cannot be broken. The tendency of a material to fail after repeated bending at the same point is known as fatigue.Continue Reading