What is the property of not shattering, in for example a brisant explosion, called? And what kind of steel would I want that has this property?

  • $\begingroup$ For what application are you using the steel? $\endgroup$
    – grfrazee
    Jan 28 '16 at 16:44

There are three (or four) possible terms for what you are asking: resilience, ductility or toughness (a steel that is resilient, ductile and/or tough)

A material's resilience describes its ability to absorb energy by deforming elastically. Its ductility (or malleability, there is a slight difference between the terms, but its not relevant here) represents how much energy it can absorb via plastic deformations. Its toughness encompasses both elastic and plastic deformations.

These terms are actually quantifiable and are equal to the area beneath the stress-strain diagram. Resilience equals the area under the elastic regime, ductility under the plastic regime, and toughness under the entire curve (and is therefore equal to the sum of the material's resilience and ductility).

stress-strain diagram representing resilience and ductility

If the second part of your question was asking for specific steels, that's out-of-scope for this site, given how different steels are available in different countries.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The answer would be more complete if it mentioned impact toughness, and maybe some tests of such: Izod, Charpy, Drop Test, etc. Just because a material appears tough at low strain rates doesn't necessarily say much about how it behaves at high strain rates or in high-velocity impact, like bullet impacts and shrapnel. All the same, solid answer. $\endgroup$
    – wwarriner
    Jan 28 '16 at 23:49
  • $\begingroup$ @starrise, while I agree that would be relevant (even more relevant than my actual answer, given that the OP is asking about explosions), such things are out-of-scope for this brain. $\endgroup$
    – Wasabi
    Jan 29 '16 at 9:38

This would be the opposite of brittleness, 'toughness' seems like the right term but 'ductility' might also apply.

  • $\begingroup$ Correct opposite of brittleness is ductility $\endgroup$
    – Fennekin
    Jan 29 '16 at 10:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Fennekin thanks, wasn't sure which it was $\endgroup$ Jan 29 '16 at 10:44

I believe @squigbobble is on the right track. The issue is related to crack propagation, namely the energy to propagate the crack in the material. The reason ductility plays a big roll here is that ductility "dulls" the tip of this crack requiring greater energy to continue opening it. This slows the rate of crack propagation significantly.


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