Industrial Engineering

Understanding the flexibility of a material

Many applications required flexibility in order to be able to retain the original shape. Flexibility is the capacity of a material to elastically bend and then recover its original shape after the application of a load. When elastic strain is applied, flexible materials can be reversibly stretched. The yield strength, or maximum stress that a material can withstand before it breaks or irreversibly deforms, is the material characteristic that characterizes the elastic limit.

In this article, the following questions about flexibility will be discussed:

  • What is flexibility?
  • What are the benefits of flexible materials?
  • What are the applications of flexible materials?
  • What are the different types of flexibility?
  • What is the difference between flexibility and elasticity?

 

flexibility of a material

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What is flexibility?

Flexibility is the capacity of a material to elastically bend and then revert to its initial shape when stress is removed. When flexible materials experience elastic strain, they can be reversibly stretched. The yield strength, or maximum stress a material can bear before breaking or irreversibly deforming, is the attribute of the material that best describes the elastic limit.

Beyond thickness, the degree of flexibility of materials can be assessed by comparing their yield strength to elastic modulus ratios, which express a material’s stiffness and strength, respectively.

What are the benefits of flexible materials?

The ability to bend or give way when pressure is applied or something bumps into them makes flexibility crucial. This enables these components or instruments to carry out operations that require a light touch.

What are the applications of flexible materials?

Flexible materials are frequently used in 3D printing for the following applications:

  • Dampers
  • Sealing joints
  • Grippers

 

Read more: Different types of material mechanical properties

Dampers

“Bumpers,” which are made of flexible materials, can push glass or other breakable objects to the side without actually breaking them. In its bottling factory in Seville, Spain, Heineken uses flexible materials for this purpose.

Sealing joints

All companies that use or process liquids or oils in their factories can utilize sealing joints made of flexible materials since they can conform to the proper shape and provide a tight fit.

Grippers

Some businesses use flexible materials to make grippers that enable delicate product handling.

Read more: Understanding compressive strength

What are the different types of flexibility?

Elasticity and plasticity are the two primary types of flexibility experienced in daily life. Although these two types of flexibility appear to be relatively similar on the surface, once you know how they actually operate, you can tell that they are very different from one another. When reduced to their most basic components, materials can be bent into two different categories and types of change.

Elasticity

Elasticity describes a material’s ability to change shape in response to an applied force and to return to its initial shape after the applied force has been withdrawn. Rubber serves as a wonderful illustration of how this works because it returns to its previous shape after being stretched. The internal structure of the material can revert to its original form even while the force causes the particles and the links that connect them to deform.

Plasticity

When a force is applied to a material, it can change shape. However, when the force is removed, the material does not return to its original shape; instead, it needs additional force to bend back into its original position. Consider how we can bend and twist paperclips into different forms, and they will maintain these shapes until we bend them again. Even while the internal structure is still that of a single unit, it has undergone permanent alteration, some internal bonds may have been broken, and it won’t be as simple to restore to its identical state prior to the application of force.

This explains why even flexible materials can fracture; if an excessive amount of force is applied, it may cause the bonds holding the particles together to weaken to the point where they entirely separate, causing the material to fracture. The bonds between the metal lattice particles are stretched as we bend the paperclip, and if they are under too much tension, they will snap. Even materials that are extremely elastic have a maximum stretch before breaking.

Read more: Understanding Hardness, strength, and toughness of materials

A building needs materials with a certain amount of elasticity so that if it is hit by something, it can absorb some of the impacts without breaking, and plasticity to ensure that if the impact is greater than what the material can handle without bending, it bends more than breaking entirely. It is important for people to understand how much so when they are trying to make something.

Modern automobiles are a good illustration of how plasticity functions; they are built with crumple zones consisting of materials that are flexible enough to bend and crumple during contact, absorbing the force to prevent the center, more rigid structure from breaking and gravely injuring the occupants.

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Read more: Understanding elasticity

Watch the video below to learn more about flexibility:

 

 

What is the difference between flexibility and elasticity?

Elasticity and flexibility are two distinct ideas and characteristics. In contrast to glass, which is likewise elastic but hard at room temperature, rubbers are primarily elastic and flexible (ductile) materials (brittle). The flexibility of a material has more to do with toughness than elasticity because toughness is defined as resistance to impact loading.

Therefore, elastic material can be extremely brittle or extremely tough (ductile). We might argue that ductility (flexibility) is related to the amount of energy that a material can absorb during deformation, whereas elasticity is the resistance of a material against permanent distortion (against plastic deformation). Glass fractures with far less force and is much more elastic and rigid than rubber. Glass is more durable, while rubber is less rigid.

When materials A and B are compared, material A deforms far less than material B, which has a smaller elastic modulus. B is more flexible than A because it deforms with a lot less force (stress). In other words, material B is more easily deformed, and this deformation may be elastic and reversible or permanent and irreversible (plastic).

Read more: Understanding a fatigue limit of a material

In summary

Flexibility is the capacity of a material to elastically bend and then recover its original shape after the application of a load. When elastic strain is applied, flexible materials can be reversibly stretched. Flexibility and elasticity are quite related but differences between them can still be perceived.

That’s is all for this article where the answers to the following questions are examined:

  • What is flexibility?
  • What are the benefits of flexible materials?
  • What are the applications of flexible materials?
  • What are the different types of flexibility?
  • What is the difference between flexibility and elasticity?

I hope you learn a lot from the reading, if so, kindly share with others. Thanks for reading, see you around!