# Difference beteween Strength, Hardness and Toughness

• lokifenrir96
In summary, hardness is a material's resistance to plastic deformation, toughness is the maximum amount of energy a material can absorb before fracturing, and strength is the ability to withstand an applied stress without failure. These are all important properties to consider when choosing materials for different applications.
lokifenrir96
Hi, am I right to say that:

Hardness is a material's resistance to plastic deformation. E.g. if a spoon is hard, it's difficult to bend it.

Toughness is how much deformation a material can undergo before fracture. E.g. how much energy a spoon can absorb while deforming before it breaks.

Strength is the maximum amount of stress an object can take before deforming. Though I don't really see the difference between this and hardness...

hi lokifenrir96!

wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardness) is very good, and clear, on this …

"Hardness is the measure of how resistant solid matter is to various kinds of permanent shape change when a force is applied."

"Strength is a measure of the extent of a material's elastic range, or elastic and plastic ranges together."

"The toughness of a material is the maximum amount of energy it can absorb before fracturing, which is different from the amount of force that can be applied."​

So hardness is about permanent change, strength is about elastic (non-permanent) change, and toughness is about energy (rather than force).

(See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strength_of_materials and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toughness)

The details in the above post by Tiny Tim are very important. :-)

As one sees these are very different terms and knowing the difference is crucial.

(Like you said)If it is very difficult to deform a body, it is called hard.

Strength is something else
and infact strength is defined in two ways.

1) Based on fracture point

Imagine a body being stretched and stretched.
There will be a point after which it will break(into two or more pieces).This point is called the fracture point.

If the amount of streching (and thus force )required to break it is large its called a strong material.
And in laymen' terms is the definition of strength.

2) based on ultimate tensile strength

There is another way which is by measuring its ultimate tensile strength.
(this strength is used in technical aspects like engineering)

You can read more about it on

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_tensile_strength

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My textbook states:
STRENGTH ...how great a force a material can withstand before BREAKING
TOUGH material is not BRITTLE, ie does not crack readily
STIFFNESS is opposition to being DISTORTED

People very often use the word 'strong' when they means 'stiff'

tiny-tim said:
hi lokifenrir96!

wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardness) is very good, and clear, on this …

"Hardness is the measure of how resistant solid matter is to various kinds of permanent shape change when a force is applied."

"Strength is a measure of the extent of a material's elastic range, or elastic and plastic ranges together."

"The toughness of a material is the maximum amount of energy it can absorb before fracturing, which is different from the amount of force that can be applied."​

So hardness is about permanent change, strength is about elastic (non-permanent) change, and toughness is about energy (rather than force).

(See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strength_of_materials and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toughness)

The text I have highlighted in bold is incorrect. Strength is not about elastic change. The correct definition for strength, from wikipedia, is:
Wikipedia said:
The ability to withstand an applied stress without failure.

So strength is about the ability to withstand forces without PERMANENT change e.g breakage. So hardness is one type of strength, just like tensile and compressive strength.

What Tiny Tim was talking about is stiffness, not strength. Stiffness is
Wikipedia said:
the extent to which an object resists deformation in response to an applied force.
The opposite of stiffness is elasticity - how far an object will stretch when pulled with a given amount of force.

Strength and stiffness are not at all the same thing and should never be confused for each other.

J. E. Gordon’s book The New Science of Strong Materials or Why You Don't Fall Through the Floor (ISBN 0- 691-02380-8) said:
A biscuit is stiff but weak, steel is stiff and strong, nylon is flexible but strong, raspberry jelly is flexible and weak.

The above quote sums it up quite nicely.

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Wikipedia said:
The ability to withstand an applied stress without failure.

it is important to define exactly what "failure" means. In some applications, exceeding the yield point of a material can be considered a failure. In other applications, the part can function quite well until it atually breaks. Therefore, as has been said, there are different types of "strength".

## What is the difference between strength, hardness, and toughness?

Strength, hardness, and toughness are all physical properties that describe a material's ability to resist deformation or damage. However, they measure different aspects of a material's mechanical behavior.

## How is strength defined?

Strength is the ability of a material to withstand an applied force without breaking or deforming. It is measured by the maximum stress a material can withstand before it breaks.

## What does hardness measure?

Hardness is the measure of a material's resistance to localized deformation. It is often determined by measuring the material's ability to resist indentation or scratching by another material.

## What is toughness?

Toughness is a material's ability to absorb energy before fracturing. It is a combination of strength and ductility, as a tough material must be able to withstand high stresses and also deform before breaking.

## How are these properties related?

While strength, hardness, and toughness are all different properties, they are often related. For example, a material that is strong may also be hard, and a tough material must also be strong. However, a material's properties can be optimized for specific applications, so a material may be strong but not very hard, or hard but not very tough.

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