How is Stress different than force?

akhemkaakhemka Forum Coordinator
How is Stress different than force?

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  • Stress is a measure of force intensity and can be expressed as F/A, where F is the force and A is the area that force is acting on.
  • Force cannot be directly used to determine whether or not a given body or material will fail. Stress is calculated from the force applied and the dimensions of the body and that stress is used when determining whether or not the body will fail.
  • A simple example to distinguish between the two is when you sit on a couch it doesn't deform much and is comfortable. But if you stand on the couch, it deforms more (and may get damaged). Although the force applied in both cases is the same (equal to the weight of the person), the area over which the force is distributed is smaller in the second case leading to larger stress. So stress (and not force) is used to determine whether or not a body will yield or break or get damaged.
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