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Strength of Materials: Stress and Strain

Some people I've notice like to use the words Stress and Strain interchangeably, which they are not.

Stress represents how much force an object can withstand over a certain area. Since stress is a force over an area, the units are the same units that represent pressure. Which really means stress is the amount of pressure on an object. This is than used to determine when the object would start to deform and than ultimately fail. These are know as the yield strength of the material and the ultimate stress of the material. This will be talked about in a different section.

Strain on the other hand is unitless number that represents the change in length of a piece of material over its original length. Knowing how to calculate strain is also important since even though the object may not have failed sometimes knowing how much it has deformed is important to. The reason why is because the deforming object could cause issues with other components depending upon how much it has deformed.

Both stress and strain can be related to one another through Hook's Law.

Hook's Law Equation (1)

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