Components used in mechanical engineering usually have to bear high mechanical loads. It is, thus, of considerable importance for students of mechanical engineering and materials science to thoroughly study the mechanical behaviour of materials. There are different approaches to this subject: The engineer is mainly interested in design rules to dimension components, whereas materials science usually focuses on the physical processes in the material occurring during mechanical loading. Ultimately, however, both aspects are important in practice. Without a clear understanding of the mechanisms of deformation in the material, the engineer might uncritically apply design rules and thus cause ‘unexpected’ failure of components. On the other hand, all theoretical knowledge is practically useless if the gap to practical application is not closed.
Our objective in writing this book is to help in solving this problem. For this reason, the topics covered range from the treatment of the mechanisms of deformation under mechanical loads to the engineering practice in dimensioning components. To meet the needs of modern engineering, which is more than ever characterised by the use of all classes of materials, we also needed to discuss the peculiarities of metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites. This is reflected in the structure of the book. On the one hand, there are some chapters dealing with the different types of mechanical loading common to several classes of materials (Chapter 2, elastic behaviour; Chapter 3, plasticity and failure; Chapter 4, notches; Chapter 5, fracture mechanics; Chapter 10, fatigue; Chapter 11, creep). The specifics of the mechanical behaviour of the different material classes that are due to their structure and the resulting microstructural processes are treated in separate chapters (Chapter 6, metals; Chapter 7, ceramics; Chapter 8, polymers; Chapter 9, composites).