Elastic and Plastic Behavior of Engineering Materials

While you are making your engineering designs, you need to make considerations and assumptions to obtain better results and with little calculations possible. But, you need to be aware of whether these assumptions make leave the design from the real values of the calculations. For example, in most engineering design procedures, it is assumed that material will behave elastic and Hooke’s Law is applicable. To assess this assumption, you need to know the elastic and plastic behaviors of engineering materials. 

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What Is The Elastic Behavior?

Stress-strain chart of a material that shows the elastic limit(Image Source: Wikipedia).

Elastic behavior of materials defines the limits that material does not show any permanent shapeshifting. For example, you applied a force or pressure to an engineering system such as a metal bar, the metal bar will show some flexure, but when you take the force or pressure back it will completely turn back to the initial shape. This is the elastic behavior of that material. 

Every material has an elastic limit which defines the maximum limit that material turns into the initial shape like above. After that limit, plastic deformation starts. 

In metals, elastic limits are somewhat narrow compared with other materials. It is very hard to accurately define the elastic limit of a metal. With the use of very sensitive devices with the developing technology, elastic limits of metals keep updated. But in most engineering designs, metal parts are designed according to Hooke’s law. 

Some elastic materials do not comply with Hooke’s law. But they are elastic. The most known example of it is the rubber materials. The phenomenon for it is called a non-linear stress-strain relationship. 

Plastic Deformation

As we stated above, after the elastic limit, plastic deformation starts. Plastic deformation is a type of deformation that material or part can not turn into the original shape after the load is removed. The calculations about plastic deformations of materials are very different. In lots of manufacturing methods, plastic deformations of materials must be calculated strictly. Just like elastic limit, plastic deformation area is another engineering subject. 


The difference between elastic and plastic behaviors of materials is very simple like above. 

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