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MOHRS CIRCLE EXAMPLE: For the initial stress element shown, determine the principle stresses and the

maximum shear stress and show these values on properly oriented stress elements.


300 MPa

400 MPa
200 MPa


Initial Stress Element

(400, 200 cw) MPa

R= 403 MPa
200 MPa

2p = 29.7

350 MPa

2= -353 MPa

avg = 50 MPa

1= 453 MPa

2s = 119.7

(-300, 200 ccw) MPa


(50, 403 ccw) MPa

1. The normal stress on the x-face is 400 MPa. The shear stress on this face is 200 MPa and it has the
tendency to rotate the stress element clockwise. (This shear stress is considered to be positive) We
plot the state of stress of the x-face on the sigma-tau space as represented by the red circle in the
Mohrs circle figure.
2. Plot the state of stress on the positive y-face. The normal stress is -300 MPa which is a compressive
stress and a shear stress that tends to rotate the stress element in a counter-clockwise fashion. This
point is shown as the blue circle in the Mohrs circle figure above.
3. Draw a line between these two points. The point where this line crosses the normal stress axis is the
center of Mohrs circle. The normal stress at center of the circle is the average stress. Draw the circle
and compute the average stress.
avg =

x + y

400 MPa + ( 300 MPa )

= 50 MPa

The line from the circle origin to the first plotted point (red) represents the orientation of the x-axis of the
initial stress element. The line from the origin of the circle to the second plotted point (blue) represents
the orientation of the y-axis of the initial stress element. Note that on the initial stress element, these
axes are 90 degrees apart. On Mohrs circle, they are twice that, or 180 degrees apart.
4. A right triangle forms between the first plotted point and the average stress as shown shaded blue in the
figure. Compute the length of the sides of the triangle using the values of x, avg and xy. Compute the
radius of the circle using the Pythagorean Theorem:

R = (350 MPa )2 + ( 200 MPa )2 = 403 MPa

The magnitude of the radius is also the magnitude of the maximum shear stress.

5. Using the radius of the circle and the average stress, compute the principle stresses.

1 = avg + R = 50 MPa + 403 MPa = 453 MPa

2 = avg R = 50 MPa 403 MPa = 353 MPa
6. Next, determine the angle between the x-axis and the positive normal stress axis in Mohrs circle. This
angle is labeled 2p. Determine this angle by inspection of Mohrs circle and the inverse tangent

200 MPa
= 29.7
2p = tan 1
350 MPa
7. By inspection of Mohrs circle, 2s, the angle from the x-axis to the maximum shear stress, is equal to 90
degrees plus 2p.

2s = 2p + 90 = 29 .7 + 90 = 119 .7
8. Show the results on properly oriented stress elements:


2 = 353 MPa


There is never a
shear stress on
the principle stress


1 = 453 MPa

Principle Stress Element

avg = 50 MPa
avg = 50 MPa
max = 403 MPa

Maximum shear stress will

always have the average
normal stress on each face.

Maximum Shear
Stress Element
The rotation on the part between the x-axis and the maximum shear and principle stress elements is in
the same direction as is shown on Mohrs circle. The angles on the part are 1/2 the angles found on
Mohrs circle. Keep in mind that these are the maximum stresses found at one point on the real part.
Note that the angle between the maximum shear stress and the principle stress elements is 45 degrees.
You should be able to verify these values using the stress transformation equations.