What is Tensile Testing? The Theory and Applications

What is Tensile Testing and how can it be used to determine how something will react when it is pulled apart - when a force is applied to it in tension?

Tensile testing is one of the simplest and most widely used mechanical tests. By measuring the force required to elongate a specimen to breaking point, material properties can be determined that will allow designers and quality managers to predict how materials and products will behave in their intended applications.

Measuring Materials Performance with Tensile Testing

Many performance parameters can be measured by well executed tensile testing. The resulting data - a curve of force vs extension - shows the tensile profile of the test up to the point where the specimen breaks. Along this tensile profile there are many points of interest, chief among them the elastic limit and force to break or failure point.

Types of Tensile Testing

Types of tensile testing include:

  • Adhesion/Bond Strength
  • Crimp Joint Pull-off Force
  • Peel
  • Tear Resistance

What are the Benefits of Tensile Testing?

Tensile testing provides data on the integrity and safety of materials, components and products, helping manufacturers ensure that their finished products are fit-for-purpose and manufactured to the highest quality.

The data produced in a tensile test can be used in many ways including:

  • To determine batch quality
  • To determine consistency in manufacture
  • To aid in the design process
  • To reduce material costs and achieve lean manufacturing goals
  • To ensure compliance with international and industry standards

How to Understand Results Obtained from Tensile Testing

Results from tensile testing should be clear and free from extraneous information that may detract from the results of interest. To facilitate custom presentation, calculations and reporting, results should be portable between software applications such as Microsoft Excel®. Mecmesin tensile testing systems offer varying grades of sophistication for collection, presentation, interrogation and export of results.

What are the Applications of Tensile Testing?

Tensile testing is used to guarantee the quality of components, materials and finished products within a wide range industries. Typical applications of tensile testing are highlighted in the following sections on:

  • Aerospace Industry
  • Automotive Industry
  • Beverage Industry
  • Construction Industry
  • Electrical and Electronics Industry
  • Medical Device Industry
  • Packaging Industry
  • Paper and Board Industry
  • Pharmaceuticals Industry
  • Plastics, Rubber and Elastomers Industry
  • Safety, Health, Fitness and Leisure Industry
  • Textiles Industry

Aerospace Industry

Applications of tensile testing in the aerospace industry include:

  • Peel tests on airframe composites
  • Shear and tensile strength testing of fasteners e.g. bolts, nuts and screws
  • Tensile & material strength testing of adhesive bonds, aircraft textiles and carpets, cables, hoses and tubing, gaskets and o-rings, seat belts, welded and crimped joints, wiring looms and harnesses

Automotive Industry

Applications of tensile testing in the automotive industry include:

  • Quality assessment through tensile testing of interior fittings including: airbags, carpets, dashboards, electrical harness (incl. crimped terminals pull-off force), handles, laminated trim, mirrors, seals and seatbelts and handbrake levers.
  • Quality assessment through tensile testing of exteriors fittings including: bumper mouldings and trims, door and window seals, emblems and number plates, mirrors and mud flaps

Beverage Industry

Applications of tensile testing in the beverage industry include:

  • Peel strength of induction-sealed foils and labels
  • Tensile force required to open 'ring-pulls' on bevcans
  • Testing cork extraction force

Construction Industry

Applications of tensile testing in the construction industry include:

  • Bond strength testing of adhesives, mastics, sealants and bonds between brick and foam layers
  • Tensile and material strength testing of geotextiles and safety support netting

Electrical and Electronics Industry

Applications of tensile testing in the electrical and electronics industry include:

  • Connector withdrawal force
  • Pull-off forces of crimped, welded or soldered electrical contacts
  • Component-to-PCB pull-off force
  • PCB material tensile strength

Medical Device Industry

Applications of tensile testing in the medical device industry include:

  • Hypodermic needle-to-hub retention force
  • Tensile strength and elongation at break of medical tubing, bandages, dressings and tapes
  • Joint strength of IV connector fittings
  • Suture-to-needle crimp pull out test
  • Tensile strength of suture material and knotting
  • Joint strength and material elongation of respiratory masks
  • Elongation and tensile strength of examination gloves
  • Mechanical strength of orthopaedic implant components

Packaging Industry

Applications of tensile testing in the packaging industry include:

  • Adhesive/peel testing of adhesive bonds, container seals and labels
  • Force associated with opening snap-caps, pop-caps and other push pull closures
  • Elongation of plastic packaging materials

Paper and Board Industry

Applications of tensile testing in the paper and board industry include:

  • Openability of card and paper based packaging
  • Folding characteristics of boxes and cartons
  • Force to separate multi-part documents
  • Durability of documents

Pharmaceuticals Industry

Application of tensile testing in the pharmaceuticals industry include:

  • Pull off force of phial caps

Plastics, Rubber and Elastomers Industry

Applications of tensile testing in the plastics, rubber and elastomers industry include:

  • Joint strength of interlocking plastic components
  • Assessment of material tensile properties
  • Adhesion / peel testing of plastic labels, ID and credit cards

Safety, Health, Fitness and Leisure Industry

Applications of tensile testing in the safety, health, fitness and leisure industry include:

  • Tensile testing of safety support netting
  • Ergonomic risk evaluations
  • Elastic properties of racquet strings

Textiles Industry

Applications of tensile testing in the textiles industry include:

  • 'Pull-off' characteristics of buttons, stitched-on decorations, press studs, poppers, zip fasteners, hook-and-loop fasteners
  • Strength testing of vulnerable seams

Tensile Testing Standards

There are a vast number of tensile testing standards developed by organisations such as ASTM, BSI, DIN, ISO and MIL.

Commonly used test standards include:

  • ASTM B913, ASTM D76, ASTM D1876, ASTM D3822, ASTM D412, ASTM D638, ASTM D828, ASTM E8
  • BS 5G 178, BS EN 1895
  • ISO 37, ISO 527, ISO 1924, ISO 13934
  • MIL-C-39029, MIL-T-7928

Tensile Testing Systems Available from Mecmesin

From simple test stand and gauge combinations up to fully computer-controlled systems powered by Emperor® software, Mecmesin tensile testing machines offer varying grades of sophistication at an affordable price.

MultiTest-i Tensile Testers from Mecmesin

Mecmesin's top-of-the-range MultiTest-i tensile testers, driven by Emperor™ force testing software provide full programmable control and a suite of comprehensive evaluation tools for performing a vast array of tensile tests.

Mecmesin MultiTest-i Tensile test on Surgical Glove material -- Video by Mecmesin

Emperor's flexible programming structure gives you the freedom to design and customise tests to suit your specific requirements. With almost limitless capabilities, Emperor will provide detailed information about your tests, enabling you to evaluate your products or materials performance throughout its life-cycle.

Features of Emperor™ force testing software include:

  • Ideal for R&D and Quality Control Labs
  • High speed data capture - 2000 Hz
  • Run to load, displacement or time
  • Intelligent command functions provide limitless test flexibility
  • Operator prompt / delay / resume test facility
  • Extensive suite of calculations e.g. peak and average
  • Loadcell deflection compensation
  • Auto-loadcell recognition / configuration
  • Real-time graphs with zoom and label function
  • Automatic export to Excel and SPC packages

A range of capacities are available to meet your exact testing requirement, from the single column MultiTest 1-i through to the advanced twin-column 50-i, which has been specifically designed to test large or high load samples and products.

MultiTest-xt Tensile Testers from Mecmesin

Operated via an easy-to-use touch screen, Mecmesin's MultiTest-xt tensile testers are the ideal solution for fast and efficient routine testing on the production floor.

Tensile Test on a MultiTest 25-xt Touch-screen Force Tester - Mecmesin Force Measurement

The MultiTest-xt requires minimal training to begin performing quick, accurate in-line production tests, with the press of just two buttons. Clear colour-coded pass/fail indicators allow smooth, efficient quality control checks, whilst a range of calculations provide ample data interrogation options.

Features of MultiTest-xt tensile testers include:

  • User-friendly touch screen interface
  • Easy-to-use, requires minimal set-up & training
  • Flexible - choice of 3 program modes
  • Create and store multiple test programs
  • 5 'Favourite' buttons for fast access to frequently used tests
  • Measures force and displacement
  • Colour-coded Pass/Fail indication
  • Ideal for routine use in production areas
  • Self-contained system - no PC required
  • Capacities from 1kN to 50kN

Extended height frames are also available for testing high elasticity materials.

MultiTest-d Tensile Testers from Mecmesin

Mecmesin's entry-level MultiTest-d test stands are a cost-effective solution for straightforward tensile tests.

MultiTest-d Motorised Force Tester - Product Overview - Mecmesin Force Measurement

Features of MultiTest-d tensile testers include:

  • Simple to operate
  • Combines with Mecmesin's digital gauges; AFG & BFG
  • Rugged design suitable for factory floor
  • Combines with data acquisition software for additional test evaluation options
  • Capacities from 1kN to 2.5kN

Manual Tensile Testers from Mecmesin

For simple tensile testing applications a Mecmesin manual test stand, such as an MDD used with either a Basic Force Gauge (BFG) or Compact Force Gauge+ (CFG+) offers an affordable solution.

Grips and Fixtures for Mecmesin Tensile Testers

Mecmesin grips and fixtures are integral components of our test systems. Mecmesin has a comprehensive range of grips and fixtures to meet your tensile testing application and budget.

These include grips with a variety of clamping actions such as wedge grips, cam grips and roller/bollard type grips, a range of test hooks and dedicated fixtures for particular test applications e.g. Rotational Crimp Receptacle, Pull Peel Wheel Fixture, Cork Extraction Test Jig and a range of specialist tensile testing fixtures.

For specialised requirements Mecmesin's team of experienced application engineers can design customised fixtures to match your specification.


Mecmesin has a range of tensile testing systems used to perform a wide variety of test applications. Whatever your budget, Mecmesin tensile testing machines offer varying grades of sophistication at an affordable price to ensure you:

  • Optimise your designs
  • Ensure consistency in manufacture and improve your productivity
  • Bring products to market faster to maximise growth in turnover and profit
  • Reduce material costs and achieve lean manufacturing goals
  • Ensure products are manufactured to international standards and industry specifications.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Mecmesin Limited.

For more information on this source, please visit Mecmesin Ltd.


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