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By G. R. Palin

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Extra info for Plastics for Engineers. An Introductory Course

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Hardness The term hardness cannot be precisely defined, as it comprises many characteristics of a plastic. The only way in which an estimate can be made is to carry out a number of standard tests, each designed to study one of these characteristics. The more important ones which are studied are: (a) Indentation under load and after the release of the load. (b) Resistance to abrasion in terms of loss of weight or change in optical properties. The optical properties usually studied are transmission and reflection.

In the case of plastics which do yield, failure for all practical purposes occurs at the yield point. The yield stress increases as the temperature falls, but a point is reached when a transition from tough to brittle occurs. This may coincide with the glass transition point, but the high stresses at break can cause structural changes, and the tough-brittle transition cannot be assumed to occur at this temperature. Below this transition point the plastic breaks before yield and the brittle stress also varies with temperature.

Because creep is the result of a viscous movement in the plastic, the effect of a small stress for a long period can be just as great as that of a larger stress for a shorter period. A plastic will creep to some extent if it is subjected to any stress, no matter how small, for a continuous period. This considerable practical limitation must be accepted. However, plastics, particularly thermosetting ones, can be used with fillers, metal inserts or in laminates for the manufacture of load-bearing units.

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