When selecting materials for an engineering application, critical mechanical properties of the material must be reviewed. Two such properties are yield strength and tensile strength. They are both measures of a material's resistance to failure, either by deformation or fracture. Despite this similarity, yield strength and tensile strength are two very different parameters.
When subjected to stress, a material undergoes recoverable deformation. The yield strength of a material represents the stress beyond which its deformation is plastic. Any deformation that occurs as a result of stress higher than the yield strength is permanent. Because of the linearity of elastic deformation, yield strength is also defined as the greatest stress achievable without any deviation from the proportionality of stress and strain. Beyond this point, large deformations can be observed with little or no increase in the applied load. Yield strength is measured in N/m² or pascals.
The yield strength of a material is determined using a tensile test. The results of the test are plotted on a stressstrain curve. The stress at the point where the stressstrain curve deviates from proportionality is the yield strength of the material. It is difficult to define an exact yield point for certain materials from the stressstrain curve. This is because these materials do not display an abrupt curve; rather the onset of yield occurs over a range. It is therefore practical to use proof stress as a representation of the yield strength.
Proof stress is measured by drawing a line at 0.2% of the plastic strain, parallel to the straightline elastic region of the stressstrain curve. The stress at the point where this line intercepts the curve is the proof stress. The yield strength of a material can be increased by certain material processes.
Often referred to as ultimate tensile strength (UTS), tensile strength is the maximum tensile load a material can withstand prior to fracture. It is a measure of a material's resistance to failure under tensile loading.
The tensile strength of a material is determined using a tensile test. It is the highest point on the stressstrain curve, which is plotted after the test. Tensile strength can also be determined using this formula:
Where P_{f} is the load at fracture, A_{o} is the original crosssectional area, and σ_{f} is the tensile strength, measured in N/m² or pascals. It is important to note that the tensile strength of a material is a specific value under controlled standard test conditions. However, in practical applications, tensile strength varies with temperature. At 100°C, the tensile strength of copper falls from 220Mpa at room temperature, to 209Mpa. These variations are compensated for by using a factor of safety, which is usually a fraction of the original tensile strength in design considerations.
The following are some of the major differences between yield strength and tensile strength:
Below are examples of the yield and tensile strengths of some engineering materials.
Material 
Yield strength (MPa) 
Tensile strength (MPa) 
Copper 
70 
220 
Aluminium 
95 
110 
Structural steel 
250 
400 
Cast iron 4.5% 
130 
200 
Stainless steel 
502 
860 
Titanium alloy 
750800 
900 
High strength alloy steel 
690 
760 
Chromiumvanadium steel 
620 
940 
941 
15001800 

Kevlar 
3620 
3757 
_{(Table Source: https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/youngmodulusd_417.html)}
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Smallman, R. E. and Bishop, R. J. (1999) Modern physical metallurgy and materials engineering. 6th edn. London: Butterworth Hieneman