What is Stress Relaxation?

Key Takeaway: Understanding stress relaxation is important for everyone, from engineers to local residents, as it helps in making informed decisions about durable and sustainable materials in daily life. This knowledge connects complex science with practical applications, highlighting the impact of our choices on the material world.

Stress relaxation is a phenomenon that occurs in materials under continuous stress, where the material gradually loses its ability to resist the applied force and decreases in stress over time. This can happen due to different factors such as temperature, humidity, and external forces. The process of stress relaxation is often associated with creep, where the material undergoes deformation over time under constant stress. This can happen in various materials such as metals, polymers, and composites.

Graphical Representation of Creep and Stress Relaxation

To understand stress relaxation better, it is important to look at the graphical representation of creep and stress relaxation curves. These curves show how the material behaves under continuous stress over time. In a typical creep curve, the material initially deforms rapidly due to the applied stress but gradually reaches a steady state where the deformation rate is constant.

On the other hand, in a stress relaxation curve, the material experiences a sudden decrease in stress over time until it reaches a plateau where there is no further decrease in stress.

Sample Creep Test Results for an HDPE Material

To demonstrate the concept of stress relaxation, a creep test was performed on an HDPE material. The test involved applying a constant stress of 500 MPa to the sample and measuring its deformation over time.

What is Stress Relaxation?

The results showed that the initial deformation rate was high, but it gradually decreased until it reached a steady-state after approximately one month.

Stress Relaxation Curves at Multiple Strain Levels

One interesting aspect of stress relaxation is that it varies depending on the strain level. Higher strains tend to have a more significant decrease in stress over time, while lower strains may experience minimal stress relaxation. This can be observed in stress relaxation curves at multiple strain levels, where different levels of strain are applied to the material and their corresponding stress relaxation behaviors are recorded.

For instance, in an experiment conducted on a rubber material, it was observed that at a strain level of 50%, the stress relaxation curve reached a plateau after approximately 10 days. However, at a higher strain level of 100%, the curve reached the plateau much earlier, after only five days.

Sample Continuous Compression Test Results for Nitrile Elastomer

To further illustrate the effects of stress relaxation, a continuous compression test was performed on a nitrile elastomer. The results showed that the material underwent significant deformation over time, and its stiffness decreased as the stress relaxed.

This is an essential property for materials used in applications where flexibility and resilience are critical, such as rubber gaskets or seals.


In this section, we will be delving into some of the most common inquiries and curiosities that surround our topic.

What causes stress relaxation in materials?

Stress relaxation can be caused by a variety of factors, including temperature changes, external forces, and exposure to chemicals or moisture.

Is stress relaxation reversible?

No, unlike elastic deformation which is reversible, the effects of stress relaxation are permanent.

How is stress relaxation different from creep?

Creep involves continuous deformation under constant load, while stress relaxation is a gradual decrease in stress over time under constant load.

Can stress relaxation be prevented?

While it cannot be completely prevented, the effects of stress relaxation can be minimized through proper material selection and design considerations.

Conclusion: What is Stress Relaxation?

In conclusion, stress relaxation is an important phenomenon to consider in materials engineering. It plays a significant role in the performance and durability of various materials, and understanding its behavior is crucial in designing and selecting materials for various applications. So, next time you come across a rubber seal or a metal component under stress, remember the concept of stress relaxation at play. It’s fascinating to see how different materials behave under continuous stress and how their properties change over time.

So whether you are a local resident interested in learning more about materials science or a professional in the field, understanding stress relaxation and its effects is essential. With the continuous development of new materials and technologies, studying stress relaxation will continue to be an exciting and relevant topic in the world of engineering.

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About the author

Hi, I'm Teri Franks, the voice behind Prescott Voice. I've spent years immersing myself in all that Prescott has to offer, and I love sharing the unique stories and experiences I've discovered. When I'm not writing, you'll find me exploring Prescott's trails or tasting our local cuisine. I believe that the vibrant lifestyle here in Prescott inspires us to live a healthier, happier life. Come join me on this exciting journey as we explore Prescott together.

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