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Home > Products > Test & Measurement > Strain Measurement > What is Strain
Basic Knowledge
What is Strain?
Strain is the amount of deformation of a body due to an applied force. More specifically, strain (e) is defined as the fractional change in length, as shown in Figure 1.

When a bar is strained with a uniaxial force, as in Figure 1, a phenomenon known as Poisson Strain causes the girth of the bar, D, to contract in the transverse, or perpendicular direction. The magnitude of this transverse contraction is a material property indicated by its Poisson's Ratio. The Poisson's Ratio n of a material is defined as the negative ratio of the strain in the transverse direction (perpendicular to the force) to the strain in the axial direction (parallel to the force), or n = eT/e. Poisson's Ratio for steel, for example, ranges from 0.25 to 0.3.

Strain can be positive (tensile) or negative (compressive). Although dimensionless, strain is sometimes expressed in units such as in./in. or mm/mm. According to Poisson's Ratio, we defined strain as . In practice, the magnitude of measured strain is very small. Therefore, strain is often expressed as microstrain (μe), which is e x 10-6.

While there are several methods of measuring strain, the most common is with a strain gage, a device whose electrical resistance varies in proportion to the amount of strain in the device. The most widely used gage is the rosette triaxial strain gage, which is shown as figure 2.

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