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Mechanical Properties and Behaviors of Polymers


Credit Hours:


Learning Objective:

  1. Demonstrate fundamental understanding of solid mechanics: draw a free body diagram and employ the correct equations of state to solve two- and three-dimensional statics and solids problems.
  2. Articulate key concepts in rubber elasticity.
  3. Utilize time-temperature superposition to generate a master curve to fully describe the mechanical response of a viscoelastic material. Apply ???spring and dashpot??? models to describe nonlinear materials responses.
  4. Describe a rheology experiment of a non-Newtonian fluid: interpret and analyze raw rheology data, identify key phase transitions.
  5. Solve simple fracture mechanics problems. Demonstrate an understanding of polymer deformation mechanisms. Apply polymer yield criteria to predict failure resulting from a given loading scenario.


This course will focus on the mechanical properties and behaviors of polymeric materials. The course will utilize fundamental solid and fluid mechanics to understand the response of bulk polymers (solid and liquid, above and below Tg). The impact of deformation rate and temperature on the mechanical response of polymers will be covered in detail. The course will start with an overview of linear elastic mechanics, move to rubber elasticity, and then viscoelasticity (concentrating on time-temperature superposition). We will also cover fluid dynamics and the rheology of non-Newtonian fluids. We will conclude with a section on deformation, yield, and fracture mechanisms (focusing on those phenomena that are unique to polymers such as rubber cavitation and crazing). Time permitting, we will turn to a brief discussion of filled polymer systems (polymer matrix composites).

Topics Covered:


MSE 38200 Mechanics of Materials or equivalent is the corequisite for this course. Alternatively, any graduate student may take this course, with the understanding that a basic knowledge of statics and mechanics will be assumed. Additionally, students are expected to review and learn any basic skills (calculus, linear algebra, etc.) that are assumed to be a baseline for any engineering student taking a graduate level course.

Applied / Theory:

50 / 50


Homework sets will be distributed every couple weeks and answers (but not solutions) will be provided. Homework will not be collected or graded but each student will be responsible for learning the material.


There will be three (3) exams in this course. Each exam will carry equal weight.


Recommended Texts
  • IM Ward and J Sweeney
    An Introduction to The Mechanical Properties of Solid Polymers, 3rd ed., Wiley. ISBN: 9781444319507
    (The 2nd ed. is available in paperback for $67 on Amazon).
  • NG McCrum, CP Buckley, CB Bucknall Principles of Polymer Engineering, 2nd ed., Oxford ISBN: 9780198565260
  • MT Shaw & WJ MacKnight
    Introduction to Polymer Viscoelasticity, 3rd ed., Wiley ISBN: 9780471740452
  • PA Kelly
    Solid Mechanics Part I: An Introduction to Solid Mechanics, Online Resource:

Computer Requirements:

ProEd Minimum Requirements: