ASTM D638 - 10

    Standard Test Method for Tensile Properties of Plastics

    Active Standard ASTM D638 | Developed by Subcommittee: D20.10

    Book of Standards Volume: 08.01


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    Significance and Use

    This test method is designed to produce tensile property data for the control and specification of plastic materials. These data are also useful for qualitative characterization and for research and development. For many materials, there may be a specification that requires the use of this test method, but with some procedural modifications that take precedence when adhering to the specification. Therefore, it is advisable to refer to that material specification before using this test method. Table 1 in Classification D4000 lists the ASTM materials standards that currently exist.

    Tensile properties may vary with specimen preparation and with speed and environment of testing. Consequently, where precise comparative results are desired, these factors must be carefully controlled.

    It is realized that a material cannot be tested without also testing the method of preparation of that material. Hence, when comparative tests of materials per se are desired, the greatest care must be exercised to ensure that all samples are prepared in exactly the same way, unless the test is to include the effects of sample preparation. Similarly, for referee purposes or comparisons within any given series of specimens, care must be taken to secure the maximum degree of uniformity in details of preparation, treatment, and handling.

    Tensile properties may provide useful data for plastics engineering design purposes. However, because of the high degree of sensitivity exhibited by many plastics to rate of straining and environmental conditions, data obtained by this test method cannot be considered valid for applications involving load-time scales or environments widely different from those of this test method. In cases of such dissimilarity, no reliable estimation of the limit of usefulness can be made for most plastics. This sensitivity to rate of straining and environment necessitates testing over a broad load-time scale (including impact and creep) and range of environmental conditions if tensile properties are to suffice for engineering design purposes.

    Note 5—Since the existence of a true elastic limit in plastics (as in many other organic materials and in many metals) is debatable, the propriety of applying the term elastic modulus in its quoted, generally accepted definition to describe the stiffness or rigidity of a plastic has been seriously questioned. The exact stress-strain characteristics of plastic materials are highly dependent on such factors as rate of application of stress, temperature, previous history of specimen, etc. However, stress-strain curves for plastics, determined as described in this test method, almost always show a linear region at low stresses, and a straight line drawn tangent to this portion of the curve permits calculation of an elastic modulus of the usually defined type. Such a constant is useful if its arbitrary nature and dependence on time, temperature, and similar factors are realized.

    1. Scope

    1.1 This test method covers the determination of the tensile properties of unreinforced and reinforced plastics in the form of standard dumbbell-shaped test specimens when tested under defined conditions of pretreatment, temperature, humidity, and testing machine speed.

    1.2 This test method can be used for testing materials of any thickness up to 14 mm (0.55 in.). However, for testing specimens in the form of thin sheeting, including film less than 1.0 mm (0.04 in.) in thickness, Test Methods D882 is the preferred test method. Materials with a thickness greater than 14 mm (0.55 in.) must be reduced by machining.

    1.3 This test method includes the option of determining Poisson's ratio at room temperature.

    Note 1—This test method and ISO 527-1 are technically equivalent.

    Note 2—This test method is not intended to cover precise physical procedures. It is recognized that the constant rate of crosshead movement type of test leaves much to be desired from a theoretical standpoint, that wide differences may exist between rate of crosshead movement and rate of strain between gage marks on the specimen, and that the testing speeds specified disguise important effects characteristic of materials in the plastic state. Further, it is realized that variations in the thicknesses of test specimens, which are permitted by these procedures, produce variations in the surface-volume ratios of such specimens, and that these variations may influence the test results. Hence, where directly comparable results are desired, all samples should be of equal thickness. Special additional tests should be used where more precise physical data are needed.

    Note 3—This test method may be used for testing phenolic molded resin or laminated materials. However, where these materials are used as electrical insulation, such materials should be tested in accordance with Test Methods D229 and Test Method .

    Note 4—For tensile properties of resin-matrix composites reinforced with oriented continuous or discontinuous high modulus >20-GPa [>3.0 × 106-psi) fibers, tests shall be made in accordance with Test Method D3039/D3039M.

    1.4 Test data obtained by this test method are relevant and appropriate for use in engineering design.

    1.5 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as standard. The values given in parentheses are for information only.

    1.6 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

    A3.1.1 This test method covers the determination of Poissons ratio obtained from strains resulting from uniaxial stress only.

    A3.1.2 Test data obtained by this test method are relevant and appropriate for use in engineering design.

    A3.1.3 The values stated in SI units are regarded as the standard. The values given in parentheses are for information only.

    Note A3.1—This standard is not equivalent to ISO 527-1.


    2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.

    ASTM Standards

    D229 Test Methods for Rigid Sheet and Plate Materials Used for Electrical Insulation

    D412 Test Methods for Vulcanized Rubber and Thermoplastic Elastomers--Tension

    D618 Practice for Conditioning Plastics for Testing

    D651 Test Method for Test for Tensile Strength of Molded Electrical Insulating Materials

    D882 Test Method for Tensile Properties of Thin Plastic Sheeting

    D883 Terminology Relating to Plastics

    D1822 Test Method for Tensile-Impact Energy to Break Plastics and Electrical Insulating Materials

    D3039/D3039M Test Method for Tensile Properties of Polymer Matrix Composite Materials

    D4000 Classification System for Specifying Plastic Materials

    D4066 Classification System for Nylon Injection and Extrusion Materials (PA)

    D5947 Test Methods for Physical Dimensions of Solid Plastics Specimens

    E4 Practices for Force Verification of Testing Machines

    E83 Practice for Verification and Classification of Extensometer Systems

    E132 Test Method for Poissons Ratio at Room Temperature

    E691 Practice for Conducting an Interlaboratory Study to Determine the Precision of a Test Method

    E1012 Practice for Verification of Testing Frame and Specimen Alignment Under Tensile and Compressive Axial Force Application

    ISO Standard

    ISO527-1 Determination of Tensile Properties

    ISO527–1 Determination of Tensile Properties


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 83.080.01 (Plastics in general)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code 13100000(Rubber and elastomers)


    DOI: 10.1520/D0638-10

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