Tensile Stress

When the material is under tension, it is known as tensile. The forces that are acting along the axis of force are responsible for the stretching of the material. The external force per unit area of the material resulting in the stretch of the material is known as tensile stress.

What is Tensile Stress?

Tensile stress is a quantity associated with stretching or tensile forces. It is responsible for the elongation of the material along the axis of the applied load. Tensile stress is defined as:

The magnitude F of the force applied along an elastic rod divided by the cross-sectional area A of the rod in a direction that is perpendicular to the applied force.

Ductile materials have the tendency to withstand the load while brittle materials fail before reaching the ultimate material strength.

When a tensile force acts on the material, the following tensile properties can be calculated:

  • Elastic modulus: It is the stiffness of the material and also known as modulus of elasticity. It is defined as the ratio of stress and strain when the deformation is completely elastic. To measure elastic modulus, the stress-strain curve is used.
  • Ultimate tensile stress (UTS): It is defined as the maximum stress that a material can withstand when a force is applied. When the materials are pushed beyond UTS they experience the cracking.
  • Modulus of resilience: It is defined as the ratio between tensile stress and two times the Youngs modulus of the material.
  • Fracture stress: It is defined as the maximum stress that is experienced in a crack point before it breaks down and is denoted as σf.

Tensile Stress Formula

\(\sigma =\frac{F}{A}\)


  • σ is the tensile stress
  • F is the force acting
  • A is the cross-sectional area

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Tensile Stress Unit

Following is the table explaining the units and dimensional formula:

Unit Nm-2
SI unit Pascal
Dimensional formula ML-1T2

Tensile Stress Example

Following are the examples:

  1. Connecting rods
  2. An elevator cable

Difference Between Tensile Stress And Tensile Strength

Tensile stress Tensile strength
It is defined as force per unit area which is associated with stretching and denoted by σ. It is defined as the amount of tensile stress a material can withstand before breaking and denoted by s.
The formula is: σ = F/A


  • σ is the tensile stress
  • F is the force acting
  • A is the area
The formula is: s = P/a


  • s is the tensile strength
  • P is the force required to break
  • a is the cross-sectional area

Difference Between Tensile Stress And Compressive Stress

Parameter Tensile stress Compressive stress
Definition It is defined as the stress that results in the elongation of the material. It is defined as the stress that results in the compression of the material.
Caused by Caused due to a stretching force. Caused due to a compressive force.
Examples The cable of a crane Concrete pillars that are used as support.


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